Control Your Anger, Or It Will Control You

Anybody can become angry, that is easy, but to be angry with the right nperson and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everyone’s power and is not easy

Aristotle

Of all of the emotional states, anger is the most harmful. It causes people to lose perspective and act irrationally. Worse still, it lingers. You can’t get angry at someone or something, take a few deep breaths and then be back to normal. Giving in to anger  could put you in a foul mood for the rest of the day or week. When this happens, you risk hurting more than just yourself. Unintentionally, you find yourself snapping at loved ones, finding fault or shutting yourself away from them through no fault of your own. All because someone pissed you off at work or on your commute.

Anger, when managed well, can be a force to bring about positive change. Contain it, bottle it up and unleash it in your work or in the gym, and you will find that fire in your belly driving you to hit all of your work targets or power through your workout. This is an incredibly difficult balancing act, as you have to be careful not to turn that anger towards anything or anyone else other than what you are focusing it on.

In order to control you anger, instead of letting it control you, there is a lot of work to be done first;

  • Self Awareness. First things first, you need some kind of idea regarding what you want from life, who you are, what you value and what makes you happy. After all, this is the baseline against which you measure your daily life. Living in accordance with your beliefs and values makes you happy. Being forced to go against what you value and hold dear, on the other hand, leads to frustration and disillusionment.
  • Triggers. As you self-reflect, try to identify the triggers for certain emotions. When do you feel happy? What makes you angry? What brings on certain emotional states and why?
  • Responses and consequences. Let’s look at anger. What happens when you get angry? How does it affect your work? How does it impact your interactions with others? Do you have any control over it? Do you deal with it quickly or does it linger? Does it cause unintended problems in your personal or professional life?

Once you’ve reminded yourself who you are, what you value, what you believe in and what makes you angry and why, it’s time to work out some strategies for dealing with this dangerous emotion. This is why it’s important to be self-aware, because the best way to change your mood is by doing something positive that brings you peace, enjoyment or relaxation.

This will inevitably vary from person top person as we are all different, so you have to find what works for you. Here are some of my favourite ways to stop anger in its tracks, as an example;

  • Take the dog (or just myself) for a walk. Simply taking yourself out of that situation, changing scenery and getting active can work wonders. I love being outdoors, so a walk in the park or the woods is an instant mood changer.
  • Look for an outlet. It’s not always possible to drop everything and go for a walk to clear your head, so you need a back-up
    • Write it out. I always carry a notebook, and will often write out everything that is pissing me off. This helps to clear my mind and I feel like a weight has been lifted. More importantly, I am able to read back what I have written and see what caused my anger, why and what I could do to stop it from happening again.
    • Gym. Get it out of you system by getting sweaty and releasing some endorphins.
    • Throw yourself into a project. Turn all of your nervous energy towards something productive, be it a DIY project at home or a work project.
    • Reach out to a friend or loved one for a chat. Sometimes, just having someone to listen can do the world of good.

Left unchecked, anger can cause untold harm in your personal and professional lives. That’s why it’s important to be proactive. Learn to recognise the warning signs, and always have a few strategies up your sleeve ready to stop it in its tracks. After all, if you don’t learn to control your anger, it will end up controlling, and ruining, your life

 

A Poison Tree (William Blake)

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.