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However, more we fight it, greater hold it will have on us, and we compound stress. It takes energy to stuff it down and that takes its toll. Besides it doesn’t work.
The first step is to recognize and accept it. “Nothing’s either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” said poet, and this applies to all our feelings, including anger. They are. They happen. They’re there for a reason, which should be noted.
Judging our emotions only compounds stress. Even in Bible it says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin. Do not let sun go down on your anger.” [Ephesians 4:26] The New Living Translation phrases it, “Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you.”
It gains control over us when we do one of two things – either ignoring it, or reacting to it in knee-jerk fashion, and doing something harmful.
What’s alternative? Sit with anger. Experience it. Acknowledge it. Then move yourself to higher center of brain, neocortex, and figure out what to do about it, if anything. Respond, don’t react. Put a pause in between feeling and action. Be willing to do nothing, while feeling it at same time. But don’t ignore it.
Better Anthony’s wife had told him each time she was angry and asked for changes rather than just throwing keys on table one day and walking out. Then it was too late. There was too much water under bridge, too much resentment, too much to deal with.
When we stuff it down, it’s likely to come out in “kick dog syndrome” as well. Some unsuspecting person will be brunt of our resentment toward someone else, or we’ll get drunk, or crash car, or trash our life in some way. Anger is energy.
LET IT PASS
One way to deal with anger is to learn to forgive. This is a long learning process for most of us, but, of course, we have plenty of opportunity to practice it. Unjustices occur all time, and we have all been wronged. Learning to let go of this anger is part of Emotional Intelligence.
One reason this is a good policy is because many of most grievous injustices can’t be undone. An apology wouldn’t be enough.
Therefore, we forgive, and we do so for our own benefit, not benefit of perpetrator. The anger will eat us up, while having little effect on object of our anger, which means we are twice victims, and more fool.
USE IT (POSITIVELY)
Channel energy. When your boss makes you angry, go chop wood when you get home. Use anger over your divorce to flame through graduate school. Get angry at opposing team and win football game. Write poetry when your mother dies. Master Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Concerto when your wife runs off with another man.
NAME IT, CLAIM IT, AIM IT, TAME IT
This is another method for dealing with anger. Name feeling and claim it. It’s your anger.
Intellectually speaking, someone could have said same thing to someone else, and it would’ve had little or no effect. YOU are in equation! “Aim it” means know where it’s coming from. Don’t slap your child because your partner infuriated you. “Tame it” means learning to self-soothe.
Developing your emotional intelligence can help eventually to modulate your feelings. (So can therapy.) You experience them less strongly after time, if you work at dealing with them as they come up.
DON’T REPRESS IT, DON’T EXPRESS IT, CONFESS IT
This is Paul Pearsall’s formula. He has a Ph.D. in psychoneuroimmunology and is author of “The Pleasure Principle.” His work on anger is compelling, as he has studied effect it has on our immunology system, which is our health.
Repressing anger makes us sick, and so does expressing it. There’s a plethora of research showing that just recalling an angering event causes same reaction as if it were happening again in real time. Why do this to yourself over and over again? Wasn’t once enough? Skip war stories, and skip bypass, yes?
“Confess it,” says Pearsall, meaning roughly that you acknowledge you have it, and that maybe you aren’t “yourself,” or thinking straight. You take a break. Breathe deeply. Count to ten. Think it over. Move on.
YOU MANAGE IT, OR IT MANAGES YOU
Learning to manage anger is part of emotional intelligence. We are never far from two-year-old throwing a tantrum. “We never grow up,” someone said, “We just learn how to behave in public.” The difference is self-awareness and tools – understanding emotion, being able to stop, self-soothe and think it through, and not letting it get better of us.
©Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach and Consultant, http://www.susandunn.cc . Offering coaching, business programs, Internet courses, teleclasses, ebooks, and EQ coach training and certification. Mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or to sign up for FREE ezine. Put “ezine” for subject line.