Do you have a fiery personality that ignites emotions like anger and irritability at a moment’s notice? While you can use outrage for good, it can manifest into negative consequences easily. With these steps, you can transform anger into a positive force you can leverage.
Why am I angry?
Have you ever asked yourself why you’re angry? Do you find yourself getting red in the face, throwing things, or yelling at people but don’t know why?
Anger is a secondary emotion or reaction triggered by the brain to protect you from vulnerability. It’s the brain’s defense mechanism for perceived threats to your well-being. That’s why anger is known as a secondary emotion. It’s triggered by a primary feeling, one from which your brain is wired to protect you. It’s a process born of our primal fight-flight-or-freeze instincts.
In essence, your brain performs emotional triage; automatically. Within seconds of sensing “danger,” it prioritizes your reaction based on the offense.
The American Psychological Association defines anger as “an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong.”
Transformation rarely happens overnight, nor is it easy. But there are steps you can take to begin the journey that can ultimately help you convert all the energy brings to the table and into meaningful action.
How to control your anger
It’s not your imagination. Anger has many faces. You can feel fear, anxiety, rage, overwhelm, depression, apathy, and withdrawal.
It manifests in us in many different ways leading to a number of health concerns.
Now, I am not saying there is not a time, place, and good reasons for anger. But the frequency, intensity, and chronicity of this disruptive emotion matters.
You need to find a way to channel your anger, so you don’t explode!
Instead of becoming angry, find happiness with these four steps:
1. Be compassionate
2. Be grateful
3. Speak in
4 Speak out
5. Agree to disagree
Let’s get started with this transformation!
Transform your anger into something positive
Start by understanding the causes of your anger. Identify your triggers, the intensity of your emotions, and physical symptoms in an anger diary.
After a few weeks, look for trends or patterns? Does fear, uncertainty, or love trigger it? These are some of the more common ones.
Now that you know your anger patterns and likely the physical signs of your anger, develop a tactic to stop it in its tracks.
Douse the fire of negative energy and transform your hostility, irritation, and outrage into something positive.
1. How to find compassion in life
When you start down this path, understand everyone deals with anger in various degrees. It even impacted licensed clinical psychologist Russel Kolts. In a powerful TEDx Olympia Talk, Anger, Compassion, and What It Means To Be Strong, he talks about the moment he realized it was time to transform his anger so he was no longer irritable.
His wake-up call came when his son was just three months old. He had a lot of work to do, and his son wouldn’t go down for his morning nap. Like many parents who have tip-toed their sleeping child to the crib, Kolts said his son woke up the minute he sat down to work. Guess what? He got angry! He realized how silly it was that he was upset his 3-month old son did what newborns do – cry!
Have you had an ah-ha moment when you realized its time to find tools to manage your anger?
If not, think back on previous experiences where you struggled with anger. Kolts says now look back on that situation with compassion.
He finds compassion gives him a way to deal with anger. He says he’s a better person by showing kindness.
As Kolts points out, we don’t choose our temperament. So, if you have a temper or get mad easily, work with what you’re given.
Kolts uses this anger management technique successfully with violent criminals, and it works. How will you make it work for your life?
2. Learn about the benefits of gratitude
If you have a hot personality, it may be easier to feel anger and outrage over a situation rather than grateful for it. Think about it. Is it easier for you to list off the things that went wrong with your day rather than went right?
FastCompany explored why it’s so easy to feel outraged rather than thankful. Villanova University assistant psychology professor believes the human negativity bias is to blame. It goes back to the days when we were hunters and gatherers. This is the same fight or flight reflex that triggers our stress.
While times have changed, our brain still works that way. It’s always processing information and alerting us to dangerous conditions. In fact, our brain has to process more information now than when it did when those hunters and gatherers had to scan the horizon for danger.
It’s not just that our brains are programmed to think this way, negativity surrounds us. Whether it’s on the news, other people, or the stress of work. Our world is filled with anger, so it’s understandable if your life is filled with it too. It’s inescapable. But, it’s imperative that you rise above the anger and practice gratitude. In return, you’re inclined to feel happier.
FastCompany points out the benefits of practicing gratitude in the workplace. Employees are more productive and work together better as a team. Think about it – if your coworkers are grateful for your contributions you’re more willing to help them and go above and beyond.
Studies back up this theory and show positive impacts in the workplace!
Health benefits of gratitude
There are benefits to gratitude in your own life too. Find out how gratitude heals!
You’ll not only feel better; you’ll lead a healthier life too.
When you transform your anger, your health follows. Studies back this up. A life filled with gratitude, rather than anger, leads to improved heart health according to research at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Also, the American Psychological Association found patients who used a gratitude journal for eight weeks showed lower levels of several inflammatory biomarkers. The list of positive health impacts goes on and one from lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans, lower stress and depression and so on.
3. Speak in: Use a gratitude journal
To show kindness, you need to acknowledge the anger rather than blame others for feeling that way or blaming yourself for it. Take a moment to breathe when you sense it burning within. Breathing is powerful, as mindfulness shows. With anger, you often act on impulse, but if you focus on your breath, you’ll find kindness rather than irritation.
Find a way to increase your self-awareness of some of the stories you tell yourself and to express your feelings in a safe environment, e.g., gratitude journaling.
Reflect on the positive things in your life and write them down. If you spend five minutes at the end of every evening focusing on something you’re grateful for, it changes your outlook. You become a glass half full rather than half empty person.
When you practice gratitude, you’re taking compassion one step further. It’s difficult to be grateful and angry at the same time, but it’s not impossible!
4. Speak out
If you’re not the journaling type, speak out. Turn your energy into something positive by volunteering or voting. You’ll feel better after too!
You can also literally say something or set an example.
5. Agree to disagree
That’s a hard one, but it’s powerful. When it’s evident there are irreconcilable differences at play, what good does it do to continue arguing. It just escalates the situation and intensifies the fire within you. Nothing gets resolved in the end.
So, if you agree to disagree with someone, the situation deescalates quickly.
If it makes you feel better, you can even verbally acknowledge the differences and say out loud I agree to disagree. Or you can walk away from the situation and internally know you did that because there’s no way to resolve the situation.
(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.)