Developing Immunity to Anger

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” — Buddha

Anger generally backfires. When we are angry we are less intelligent. Anger comes from the reptilian part of our brains. It gives us energy to fight to survive. Anger is a natural emotion that we certainly need to own and deal with. The only thing worse than exploding irrationally is holding anger inside and denying it. It comes out in other ways, usually passive aggressive ways that end up making us feel worse.

Most of us blame our anger on an external stimuli — “He made me so angry”, “That guy cut right in front of me” — etc. The real cause of anger is a combination of what happens to us externally and more importantly what we choose to think about that stimuli.

Anger is a habit. We look at events in a certain way that makes us angry. By accepting this, it gives us control to change our thoughts, which ultimately will change our lives. We are responsible for how we feel and think.

Some of us are afraid to give up anger because it means we are to blame. Someone needs to be punished. Anger can be positive. The problem is when we use it to get our own way or to justify a behavior, feeling or event. Anger begets anger. The more we use anger, the more angry people around us get. Anger is a way to impact others, it can be a form of emotional blackmail.

“The more anger towards the past you carry in your heart, the less capable you are of loving in the present.” — Barbara DeAngelis

We have all been immunized against childhood diseases. You can also immunize yourself against anger. When we become less susceptible to anger we can have better ways of dealing with difficult times in our lives. Here are three steps to immunize yourself from unnecessary anger:

Step 1: The opposite of anger is a feeling of peacefulness and calmness. Notice when you feel the most peaceful in your life and practice that feeling. Check out your breathing and your thoughts. Close your eyes for a few minutes and take a few deep breaths, notice how this will immediately clam you.

Step 2: Check out your triggers to anger. Think of certain things that make you angry. Let’s look at rude drivers. When some one tails you or cuts in front of you give your response a number between 1 and 10. 1 being very little reaction, 10 being enraged. Write down the very first sign that something is going to make you angry. Now practice your calming techniques. Visualization of a peaceful place, breathing deeply etc. Keep this up and the event that you imagine will slowly lose it’s power to make you angry.

Step 3: Reframing. Find a better way to look at it, in other words CHANGE YOUR THINKING, CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Look at your assumption about the meaning of the event. Let’s go back to the rude driver. Your assumption that the person is rude and trying to make you angry will indeed make you angry. Why not look at it like maybe that person just got some bad news and is in a hurry to deal with it. That changes the entire feeling! Is there a hidden benefit to this situation? You can practice being in your calm state.

Remember most events will soon pass! Is it really worth the upset??

Have a Peaceful day today!

— Karen