A person cutting a piece of paper with scissors. Anger


Losing your Power

Anger is an emotion we are all familiar with. Maybe too familiar. It’s like a demon that just sits there, sometimes festering, waiting to jump up and make an appearance. The thing is that it’s not just an emotion.

Anger is more complex than it first appears, because it’s cause comes from a variety of reasons. It’s an emotional outburst, a reaction, that has its roots because of something deeper.

Just like any other emotion it can be controlled, but this comes with a price if it’s controlled by suppressing it, rather than expressing it the right way. But that is like the cure to the illness. A better way of controlling anger is figuring out what causes it and what our trigger points are – what is it that gets you angry.

What is my trigger of choice?

When we get angry we don’t just decide to be angry. There’s a backstory to the reason we get angry and each of us has their own trigger points. Now, emotions are not limitless. We are more alike than most people would like to think.

Each of us, though, does have their own trigger points.

By a trigger point, I mean that something that sets you off to get angry. I recall a film where the main character gets angry when other drivers didn’t indicate to turn.

Looking at this small scenario the anger is not really the fact that the person doesn’t indicate. The main character may dislike laziness, may be a law abiding citizen and feel that all should abide by the law or our main character could simply be a sociopath or a psychopath.

In other words, what triggered the reaction was the failure to indicate. The feeling that accompanied that was anger. But what was the feeling prior to the anger? There lies the true reason for getting angry.

Our trigger point is something that we believe should be abided by and not broken. It depends on our beliefs, our fears, our ethics and our morals. And because of these factors, each of us will have his or her own triggers points.

Emotional Triggers

It goes to follow that each trigger will be associated with an emotion. Anger is the outcome.

If you look at the reason why you got angry the last time, what would you attribute the reason to?

Did someone let you down? Where you asked about something you don’t want to tell? Did you feel disappointed in someone’s behaviour or the way that someone reacted?

Lets go deeper.

Did you feel disappointed? Were you disappointed by someone? Did you feel cheated? Were the instructions you gave not understood and you were questioned again, or they were not followed? Did you lose control? Was it because of a lack of control? Was it because you got jealous? Did something happen that you felt was unfair? Are you in an environment that you feel people around you don’t understand you?

Questions, upon questions, upon questions. There are plenty more and each reaction of anger can be a combination to a number of these emotions. That’s why it’s so personal.

But the bottom line is always the same. We get angry because we choose to loose control. And we direct the blame outwardly. Instead of choosing to not react and consciously gaining control. Easier said than done. It’s possible and it’s a choice, a decision.

The causes

It’s not a plain black and white answer here. But, there are some common answers to this.

Anger arises as a result of

    • Shame
    • Embarrassment
    • Guilt
    • A lack or loss of control
    • A feeling of being let down or disappointed, in ourselves or others
    • Jealousy
    • Circumstances that are not to our liking (this is because of a lack of control)
    • Unfairness
    • Lack of justice (someone else breaking the law, not abiding to law, getting away with something they should not be)
    • Lack of purpose
    • Insecurity

This list is by no means complete. If yours doesn’t appear on here add it. But, I will ask you to refrain for just a while as I explain something.

All of the above, including the last are affected by our ego and our self image. There is not a single factor above that isn’t caused by our ego getting hurt or because of a belief about ourselves as a result of the self image.

Oddly it includes justice. Our idea of what is right or wrong is not the same as someone else’s, who has grown up in a different environment as you. That doesn’t excuse the action, but it can explain it. It’s our own belief that it affected and that is linked to our self image and ego.

Even as I write this I am a bit conflicted that my ego and self image could be the result of my anger. But, at the same time, I realise that all that we believe to be right and how things ought to be done and ought to be, are a reflection of our beliefs and ideas, which are on the outward part our ego and in the inner part our self image.

For example, If we feel that we have not been understood, it’s because we see things from our perspective.

I’m an ex-soldier, a veteran, so some things, such as discipline, are close to my heart. But in an environment were discipline is lax and life is not so strictly bound, I face personal challenges because I am the odd one out. My level of discipline will be different to others. But their level of discipline will be based on their own experiences and I have to keep that in mind. I have to adapt without letting myself down.

If I had to change the way I do things just to fit in and please others, again it would boil over to anger because I am suppressing who I am. So there has to be a healthy balance, a mutual understanding.

The ego and the self image play a massive part in this.

Mixed Emotions

Each emotion that leads to anger has its cause in what we hold in our ego and self image, our beliefs, ideals and fears.

Beliefs such as a lack of confidence, of self esteem, the discipline to do what must be done and needs to be done, the feeling that we can’t do something but someone else can. The feeling of loss of control in a situation. There are fears we don’t recognise until we look at the reason for our anger.

We get angry when certain environmental factors don’t meet the criteria that we expect to be met. We allow external circumstances to control us.

But, holding onto anger is worse. A build up of anger will eventually explode in an uncontrolled manner and most likely at a time we least expect it. Pent up anger is the worst there is, because it is a result of a mixture of emotions that erupt because of, sometimes, nothing, but most of the time directed towards the person that we feel is to blame for that cause.

At the worst of times, we direct our anger towards someone we feel is not able to respond to us, to stand up to us – a person we feel to be weaker than us.

Dealing with Anger

Lets not sugar-coat this – to deal with anger is a choice. You must want to deal with it and not approach it with an “I’ll try it” attitude. To try means not to succeed. A boxer doesn’t go into a ring to try and box or try to win. They go into the ring to win, to give their best.

Dealing with anger is exactly that, because it takes effort, understanding and forgiveness. You have to be able to forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made and for the anger you have. You need to understand your anger and your trigger points, so you can recognise them.

You need to learn to speak and communicate your anger in a way that is more productive. Even better, to be able to communicate what makes you angry.

You have to find a way, one that works for you, where you can avoid the anger or deal with it.

For example, take the person that cuts you up at the junction. You know that is one of your triggers, that conflicts with your beliefs and ideals. The fact still remains that it has already happened. There is nothing you can do about it – it’s in the past. And since it’s in the past, it’s already gone. You are still were you are.

Move into a place in your mind until you realise that you are in the now and that you have not been affected. You could run possible scenarios in your mind as to what could have happened and what you could do, but you are in control of your thoughts. Only you. And you can control those thoughts to bring yourself to a point of calmness.

Easy. No. But worth it.

You can pre-program and reprogram your subconscious mind on how you will react to your trigger points. Think about the last time you got angry and what caused it. Run the whole thing in your mind and watch it as if it’s a film on a screen. Go through the emotional turmoil it brings with it, the anger, the shame, the embarrassment and whatever other emotion that comes up.

Then go through it again, this time changing it where you want it to change for the better of all involved. And again, feel the feelings that go with this outcome. Go through this a few more times, until it feels like that is exactly how things happened.

Doing this primes your subconscious to respond the way you want, rather than you being out of control of that response.

Anger is our way of reacting, on the most, rather than responding, to situations that don’t fit our ideal of how things ought to be. But none of us are perfect because we are human and we do make mistakes. The ability to accept this gives us the insight we need to improve as a person and a human being.

The Poison Within

This is the one part I want you to take away more than anything else.

Imagine you are holding a snake and it bites you. It makes no sense holding onto that snake. You let it go before you’re bitten again. Holding onto anger is the same as holding onto a snake.

Never hold on to anger. My dad always told me, “Never go to sleep angry”. I was young and thought them strange words. Now I see the wisdom in them.

When we sleep our subconscious deals with the feelings before sleep. If that is anger then it deals with the anger. During sleep is when we take things in more than any other time, because our mind is relaxed. And thus anger becomes a part of us in relation to the event or situation it came from. We create another belief.

When we get angry we give away our strength and our power. We let external circumstances control us instead of us being in control.

Anger is also a poison for our body. And each time we get angry we recreate the poison. Dr Masaru Emoto showed the effects of emotions on water. Reflecting this to us, made up of 60% – 80% water, what effect can anger have on our body?

Like all emotions, anger will affect us physically.

Do not confuse controlled aggression with anger – it’s aggression, not anger, that you use in the gym to complete the last repetition. Bruce Lee referred to this as “emotional content, not anger”.

To move from uncontrolled anger to a controlled response, means that we take back our power, our self determination. It means that we are in control of our mind, our thoughts and our body. We get closer to making a stance against external influences and consequently the eventual outcome of our lives.

Anger is an emotion that with time, patience and effort, can be transformed into acceptance and, in some cases, love. It’s your choice.

How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.
Marcus Aurelius

Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
Ecclesiastes 7:9

Photograph by: Pro Church Media on Unsplash

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