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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Managing and Eliminating Anger

One of the biggest hurdles in my life was overcoming anger.

The root cause of anger, like all negative emotions, is fear. Often our fears are entirely based on the belief systems we have acquired coupled with our false sense of self. Ego.

I had always been an angry person. I know how that came about. Most of the time, I was able to repress or suppress my anger. I have met people who actually believed they have "cured" themselves of anger issues when in fact- all they have managed to do is bottle it up inside. Some can't manage to even bottle it up or repress it. Still others think they are entitled to anger. They don't even try to hide it. They simply run around terrorizing the people they think are demonizing them.

Have you ever heard someone say, "I can't control my anger?" That is as ridiculous as saying I can't eat anything except potato chips. Completely false. More accurately, they may not believe they can control their anger. Or perhaps they simply do not know how to eliminate anger. Or they truly have acquired a belief system that enjoys being angry. They choose anger.

People without anger issues are no better at resolving anger for others than a piano teacher that can't play a piano but tries to teach people to play. Perhaps the best credibility- comes from us angry souls that have scaled that mountain. That's not to say we didn't learn a lot from the examples of people that don't have anger issues. Sometimes those calm people were my role models. Sometimes, we looked at those people quizzically. Sometimes those calm and serene souls looked back at us the same way.

One of the goals in my life was to eliminate anger. While I haven't achieved 100% success, I have come pretty close. As I look back over this past year, I can honestly say I have only been genuinely angry twice. Was I justified? Nope. In fact, both instances were avoidable. You see, I chose to be angry.

The absolute cornerstone to eliminating anger is an absolute refusal to take other peoples' actions and words personally. That must be coupled with the same absolute refusal to make assumptions. Those two things, when committed and practiced rigorously, will eliminate (in my case) about 90% of anger causing situations.

It is fine tuning that other 10% that takes a little extra work. Those tend to be long term situations where people have uncovered your "buttons" and enjoy pushing them once in awhile. I risk manage those situations by preparing and risk managing those contacts well in advance. It might be as simple as dinner at someone's home or a glance at caller ID to let me know who is calling. Other situations arise, traffic incidents or the neighbors' dog, or perhaps his rude owner. My other neighbor throws loud parties that last all night. In many of those situations, because those situations tend to rise suddenly, I use a circuit breaker. As soon as I feel a negative emotion or threat, I no longer act. I pause and reflect.

I will give you a real life example. Last week, my friend's truck was parked on the street in front of my house. He is in Hawaii and I parked the truck there while he is out of town. Although it was directly in front of my house, it's positioning causes my neighbor to have to parallel park. The neighbor cannot just swoop in the spot in front of his house because the vacant space normally in front of my home- is no longer available for swooping. So he has to back in. The next morning I found my friend's truck had been egged. No other cars were egged. Although common sense indicates my neighbor was mostly likely responsible, I chose not to make that assumption. Confronting the neighbor would have just gotten a denial, perhaps facilitating some future feud. Revenge or calling the cops would have the same result.

I took the truck and washed it before freezing weather set in. I parked it across the street and out of his way. I let him "win." He can now swoop in again. My neighbor has no idea who I am. Not bad for a 6'4", 260 lb. "girly" man who wrestled drunks and maniacs for 25 years. Hey, I didn't say this would be easy.

I am committed to the process. I meditate. I refuse to take any thing personally and I don't make assumptions. I prepare for and manage "high risk" emotional situations before they occur. I "circuit break" any time I feel threatened, attacked, or a negative emotion. I process it and remember- it's never personal. I can let people bonk my car with eggs, that doesn't have anything to do with me. I can't assume it was the neighbor. I can't control the thought processes of people that think doing things like that is a good idea. The only thing I can do is control how I perceive the world, accept it, and not spend my evening trying to figure out some way to extract revenge. It's a lot better way to live- this sleeping at night with a clear conscience.


  1. Love it... I laughed out loud when reading about the truck getting "bonked" with eggs... I think it was just the word "bonk". Anyway, anger can feel more enjoyable and empowering than hurt feelings... but, that illusion quickly fades into depression, and often self-loathing. What you present here is the path to recognizing one's TRUE POWER, and that it has nothing to do with force. It is that calm place of freedom which comes with the ability to pause and choose one's response. Thank you for sharing. Now I am on to put out to the Universe a healthy dose of Anarchy. :-) Yippee!

  2. Not sure Brian...........Anger is one of the hardest emotions to bring under submission!
    Many people use anger as their motivator, it gives them the push to right wrongs and bring down dictators, so anger does have a place in our fight to perfect ourselves.
    That being said, just being angry in general, with no real culprit for our anger is very self-destructive. It prevents personal growth and uses valuable energies that could better used in fighting the Good Fight!

    Very thought provoking post none the less! I always look forward to you sharing your perspective, so keep 'em coming!

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