Have you ever heard anyone say “I love it when I’m angry”? 99.99% of the times the answer would be NO. Deep down everybody is aware that how dangerous of an emotion anger is. As Robert Greene states “Anger is the most destructive of emotional responses, for it clouds your vision the most”.
Like most of the people, my experience wasn’t very pretty with anger. From the year 2014 to 2017 I was a slave to anger; anger controlled me. Back then when I got angry, a lion would emerge within me and all of the sudden I was the most courageous person ever born. Now when I reflect, I realise that I wasn’t courageous at all, but I was reckless, a fool. I feel no guilt saying that because that is the truth. I got in trouble countless times because of my anger and I paid a heavy price for it.
You can read about controlling your anger on many blogs and see countless videos on YouTube, but the most important question to ask is- does that work? Are you getting the results? Are those solutions making sense to you? Like most of you, I devoured those blogs and videos but couldn’t find the solution that works (at least for me).
One of the most common advice you’ll find is “wait and count to 10 or 100” and then respond. The idea behind this activity is that when you count, It is going to take time and your anger will wear itself out and go away. Another common advice you’ll find is to “stop and don’t respond at all, for a whole day”. Unfortunately it doesn’t work for many people and people eventually forget this and get back to the same old behaviour that they have no control over.
“Speak when you’re angry and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret” – Ambrose Bierce
The problem in those solutions is very apparent; there’s isn’t any strong idea behind those methods. They just gave us the solutions and said- just apply it whenever you feel angry, without adding a reasonable reason behind it. Anger by Its nature is an emotion that overrides our intellectual capabilities. In other words, anger suppresses our human side and brings out our animal side, which then takes over. So when you’re angry the last thing you want to do is count to 100 or wait a whole day. Isn’t that the case? Anger prompts you to react and makes you forget about any counting activity or any other reason to stop. Our limbic system is way stronger than our neocortex. However, like many of our bad habits, anger can be controlled through appropriate knowledge, relentless practice, awareness and reflection.
Here’s the formula:
Knowledge + Awareness + Relentless practice + Reflection = More control over emotions
5 strategies to take over anger
1. Study rational thinking
In other words, READ! I never found any particular solution for my anger from blogs or videos particularly made on this topic. I found it in indirect ways.
As a person who wants to grow in many areas of life like the most of you, I had other areas to think about and work on.
After not getting any reliable solution, I moved on and jumped to read about rational thinking as it is an imperative skill to have in order to make good decisions. Emotions always get in the way of good decision making, so I started to read more and more about emotions and how to overcome them.
Because I was reading about the human behaviour as a whole and not just one emotion alone, I was exposed to a wide range of knowledge. As a result I started to notice similarities between all the emotions. Some emotions stay underneath and influence us unconsciously, while others, such as anger often emerge on the surface and affect our lives and circumstances directly.
Reading makes you more and more aware about your behaviour and lets you understand why you act the way you do and what are some of the patterns that exist which affects your life. You may also notice some of your weaknesses that the people have been taking advantage of without your even knowing.
When I started reading, I wasn’t able to stop myself from bursting out with anger right away, but, it’s the process that took place afterwards that helped me stop myself a little bit the next time I was about to burst. After that anger burst or whatever actions I took, I started to reflect and started to ask myself questions like: was that necessary? What made me do that? Is it my weakness? What I could have done differently? And much more questions.
Studying your behaviour will help you in hundred different ways and anger is just one of them. It’s a slow but effective process and as long as you’re willing to improve yourself, it’ll pay off. I have been doing It since 2017 and it has helped me tremendously. More than I could have ever imagined.
2. Look In the future
Wouldn’t you all agree that long term thinking and vision is something you have to have in order to succeed? Well, I heard you saying- YES! You are probably exercising this mentality every day in your business, relationships and health. You make strategies keeping the future in mind, you choose partners keeping the future in mind, and in the same way, you exercise so that you can benefit in the long run and would be able to outlast competitor.
So let me ask you a question: how often do you apply your long term thinking at the moments when you’re angry? Now you might be saying “aren’t you contradicting yourself? You just said you can’t think these things when you’re angry.” Yes I said that. But I also mentioned that it can be learned and controlled, when backed by reasonable reasons and relentless practice. Remember that I told you, it’s the process that takes place after the anger, when the anger has done its part (damage) and is gone, that is going to bring changes.
Once the anger is gone, ask yourself: what did I just do? and does it align with my future goals? Hundred percent of the time, the answer will be NO. Then comes even more important question to ask: Can what I just did hinders me from achieving my goals in any way? Meaning, can the consequences of my actions become an obstruction in my path? If the answer is yes then you better write it down and never repeat that action again.
For instance, assume person A is a very ambitious man but got this one temperament problem. He has this dream job that he’s working hard for and is certain to attain that goal of his. But unfortunately, he gets into a fight and because he can’t control himself, in burning rage he ends up killing a person. Now he is convicted for murder and going to jail for the rest of his life.
Think about it. How destructive of an emotion anger is; let it take over for a few seconds and it can ruin your whole life. All of A’s plans and ambitions are of no use now. IT’S OVER.
3. Write things and quotes down that moves you
As simple as it may sound, it is very effective. When reading and studying human behaviour I came across many phrases that made all difference in my mentality. Some lines and paragraphs just kind of fill the void space in your knowledge that makes you say “Aha GOT IT!” and all of the sudden every word you read makes even more sense. That’s where the quotes come in.
Have you ever thought why Quotes exist and why are they necessary? Why every wise person has quotes? If you haven’t, don’t worry, neither did I up until this moment in my life when things started to make sense (when awareness started to develop).
We can basically define quotes as- wide knowledge compressed in little words. In other words, massive wisdom in few words. Quotes are a certain set of words that explains a great deal of things. Since it is not possible to remember every single detail of any topic, quotes let you remember the overall idea of anything. Generally it’s good to understand the whole idea behind a quote before you believe in your version of wisdom by interpreting it the wrong way.
Quotes will stick to your head if you know the idea behind them. Quotes are very helpful in remembering information. Use them to keep yourself in control. They’re quick access to wisdom. Make a list of quotes that helps you become a better person. Read them often and you’ll start to internalise them and soon you’ll start to realise that now even when you’re angry, all of the sudden those quotes will start to popup and you’ll be able to control yourself. I’m challenging you, Prove me wrong!
4. Ask yourself the end result
This may sound obvious but the truth is, the more obvious anything is the less we think about it and that’s where we make mistakes. Sometimes we’re just wasting our energy for no reason and we have to find the solutions ourselves. For instances, recently my 2 cousins came over and I noticed they fight a lot. And when I say a lot, I mean, a lot. One would do something and other would get mad at him and would burst out in anger. One day I called the elder cousin who is around 16 and asked him – what’s the point of your fighting and wasting so much energy when at the end of the day you guys play together and eat at the same table? He couldn’t say much.
Now you may say that they are immature but no, this same thing has many variations. Sometimes you’re quarrelling with your parents, sometimes with your wife and your siblings. Deep down you know that in the end how it’s going to be. Sometimes it’s just not worth it to put up a fight and argue for no reason. You can be arguing with someone the whole day you already know wouldn’t listen to you no matter what facts you present. Ask yourself again, what am I going to gain? What am I arguing for? Instead, find ways to avoid the argument, find solutions for yourself.
Arguing with someone you already know wouldn’t listen is foolishness and stupidity. You’re going to waste your energy which you can utilise in productive things, and the most important thing you’re going to lose is your PEACE OF MIND, which may lead to even more tense confrontations and uncomfortable situations.
“The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it” – Dale Carnegie
5. Practice, it’s a muscle
I’m sure you have heard the phrase “practice makes a man/Women perfect” (little alteration). As I have mentioned earlier, it is not going to happen overnight. Good things take time, patience and great deal of efforts. It’s a muscle that you’ll develop over time. And if you keep applying the methods mentioned above, slowly but surely you’ll see the results.
There are two things to keep in mind:
First, if you fail to control your emotions sometimes, specially, anger, don’t beat yourself up. It’s a part of learning and making progress. Progress beats perfection every single time. Just keep in mind that everybody fails and everybody goes through this. Making mistakes and failing isn’t the problem as long as you don’t give up. Fail, reflect and get back up again. Keep trying and eventually you’ll see the results.
Second, be proud of yourself that you actually did it. If you keep trying, eventually there’s going to be a point, where, you’re about to get mad and anger starts to take over, but, at the same time, a part of you will stop you and make you think about all the things you have been putting in your mind and you’ll become aware about your anger and the consequences that might ensue. The point this happens anger will starts to lose its grip on you and will keep losing.
Celebrate your victory, take a moment and say good things to yourself. Encourage yourself to keep going the way you’re going because of the person you’re becoming. At the end of the day life is short and extremely unpredictable, a virus that we can’t even see has taught us that (yes I had to mention this). so live a happy life and stop getting worked up.