Let me start by saying, no one can banish anger from their life forever. We all get angry, and we need to express our anger (safely) when it does arise. What I would like to focus on here is finding ways to ensure that it doesn’t take over our lives, and offer a few ways in which to safely deal with anger when it does arise.
Why are you angry
We think of anger as something that suddenly bursts through us, out of nowhere. But the truth is, it is often the result of many smaller things that have compounded themselves into what we express as anger.
Are you angry right now? I don’t mean steam-coming-out-of-your-ears rage here. We can spend many parts of our days wandering around with a small simmer of anger bubbling inside us. And we might not even realise it.
It’s also important to remember that anger takes many forms: from mild irritation, to frustration, to infuriation, they all manifest themselves within our bodies and minds in different ways.
I ask again: are you angry right now? And is it because of something that is happening right now? Or is it a case of a few things that have added up over time? We must tap into our emotions in real time in order to properly dissect them.
What are you angry about
Knowing what triggers you into feelings of anger is such an important step in learning to banish anger from your life. If we can predict a trigger, we can circumvent it. And we don’t have to live through the trigger, we can keep a handle on our anger.
There are obvious triggers, such as betrayal and hurt, and then there are the more subtle ones. These are the ones you need to look out for. These are the ones that add up inside and lead to a meltdown over literal spilled milk. Perhaps you feel frustrated over long queues, or you feel yourself becoming irked when people gossip around you. Take note of them all.
Why are you angry about it
Now that you know what pushes your buttons, you need to get to the root cause. I’ve spoken about this in a previous post on patience. Anger is a symptom. It is not the problem. See if you can uncover your own root causes.
For example, if I go into a rage because my ideas were not listened to in a work meeting, the problem here isn’t that people weren’t listening. It is that I feel deep down that if people don’t value my opinions, then I have nothing to offer. And if I have nothing to offer, then I am unloveable.
It’s hard work. But extremely rewarding when you get to the bottom of your anger.
How to banish anger
The final part of this journey into anger management is learning how to let it go. We’re taught that “just let it go” is the weak option, the one that avoids confrontation. But in reality, it takes a lot of strength to consciously banish anger.
How do you do this? Well, triggers will always have a way of finding you – you cannot avoid all triggers in your life, it’s simply a part of life’s daily setbacks. But you can choose to stop and analyse before you respond to these triggers.
Knowing the underlying problem you face when a trigger presents itself is the secret. In my earlier example, I can choose to stay calm and practice active listening in that meeting. I can repeat to myself internally that I am of value, not because of my behaviour, but because of who I fundamentally am as a person.
It doesn’t happen overnight – this is a lifelong practice. But the more mindful you become, the quicker this process takes in real time.
If you take one thing from this article, know that anger is not the only option. It’s the easy one, the immediately satisfying one. But it can leave you feeling alone, disappointed in yourself, and it can stunt your development.
Once more with feeling: anger is not the only option.