Let’s continue our conversation about the underlying causes of anger. By now you understand that anger is a secondary emotion triggered by the brain to protect you from vulnerability. Unfortunately, if you’re suffering from chronic anger, your brain’s emotional triage is no longer working efficiently and in your best interests. There are serious repercussions for long-term stressors including anger. See the emotional and physical impacts of anger. Remember, the goal is not to eliminate anger altogether, but to ensure that anger does not consume your life.
As we delve into this month’s trigger – uncertainty – you may feel some resistance and discomfort; that’s completely normal. Your brain means well, yet sometimes it can act in direct opposition to what will benefit you the most in the present moment. Uncertainty is not “bad” in itself; it’s our tolerance of uncertainty that determines our reaction and the subsequent effect on our lives.
“The only certainty is that nothing is certain.” Pliny the Elder
People will do just about anything to avoid facing the unknown despite routine habits in which we do exactly that. Crossing the street, for instance. There’s no certainty we’ll make it across, but most of us proceed without a second thought. And how about love? When we choose to love another human being, there is absolutely no guarantee they will love us back; or, that they will still love us a year, two years, 20 years from now. Or, that they won’t hurt us at some point in the relationship. In fact, love is such a risky endeavor it comes with its own anger triggers.
We cling to the idea of control and certainty in spite of overwhelming evidence that these are nothing more than illusions. A product of our brain’s effort to avoid dealing with fear and the uncertainty of life. Most often, we experience uncertainty as worry or anxiety, which can be triggered by emotional upheaval, life changes, new possibilities, and shifts in perspective.
The best way to deal with uncertainty is to build up your tolerance for the ever-changing and uncertain world we live in. Here are a few actions to help:
Engage uncertainty – Don’t shy away from the unknown; face it head-on. Acknowledge it’s there and welcome the possibilities.
Stop associating uncertainty with negative consequences – Many of us equate “uncertain” with “bad.” However, it is just as possible for uncertainty to lead to good, excellent, or even neutral outcomes. Ditch your expectations (these can lead to other anger triggers, like disappointment and regret, which will cover next month).
Be here now – A lot of times we get stuck in our heads and forget to enjoy the present. If you find yourself obsessing over the what-ifs, try one of these activities:
- Write in your journal; have a real life conversation – no phone, no screens, no tech; go for a walk or a run; craft or create something with your hands. Do whatever will interrupt your current thought pattern and redirect your thinking to the positive.
Think how bored you’d be would be if everything in life were certain. Embrace the possibilities!
Take Time to Ponder:
- “When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.” – Eckhart Tolle
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- 11 Ways Emotionally Intelligent People Overcome Uncertainty
(Personal Insight MD, LLC, PeopleTweaker, and Insight MD does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are feeling extreme anger with thoughts and actions harmful to yourself or others such as physical/verbal abuse or acts of violence, find yourself self-medicating with alcohol, illicit drugs, etc., expressing your anger in such a way that threaten relationships or your job, etc. seek professional help immediately and call 911 if necessary if you find yourself in an out-of-control situation or have the urge to hurt yourself or others.)