It was a rare moment as a parent. I was in awe as the sun shone on the table. I had the full and undivided attention of my teenager. It is such a rarity in this highly engaging world that I cherished the moment as long as I could. What I thought would be a fleeting event lasted for a full 2 hours. I was in heaven. It started with a question. This simple question lead us through a half-century of life experiences. Mostly focusing on all the ways I had failed. In the end, we both saw how all the failures, when tallied together was the secret to my success.
What was the question? “Mom, how do you deal with anger?”
Today, I wanted to share with you the process that I have learned over the last 40+ years that helps me deal with my own anger. It is a simple process, but if it can help a 13-year-old hormonal teen deal with her anger, I thought it might be of benefit to you, too.
When I am angry, I know that it stems from only two areas. Anger is very simple and isn’t complicated. It is quite direct, actually. When that emotion takes hold of my heart and mind, I know that one of two things has occurred:
I’m angry because there was an expectation that wasn’t met.
I’m angry because I’m afraid I’m not going to get what I want.
I see anger as my dearest friend. This emotion is not my enemy. This is the emotion that keeps me from falling into the pit of depression. If I choose not to address my anger and I try to hide the emotion, deny it or in anyway deal with it in a non-direct manner, this causes huge emotional imbalances within me. Anger must be dealt with directly and in total honesty or the emotions of guilt, rage jealousy, fear, grief or depression will start arriving into my life.
As I continued to share with my daughter about how to deal with anger as a “early warning system” to darker emotions, she understood the breathing exercises I would use and why I would go off by myself anytime I found myself rising to anger.
The next time you find your emotions boiling and anger becoming the primary emotion in your field, ask yourself these questions:
Why am I angry?
Will I get what I need?
Will I get what I want?
What am I afraid of?
Is that guaranteed to happen?
While I’m asking myself these questions, I am also forcing my body to breathe. I’ve noticed that when I get angry, my breathing becomes shorter and quicker like I am ready to run a race (fight or flight response kicks in) to discourage this enzymatic cascade of endorphins in my body’s system, I force myself to take deep breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth. The inhalations are shorter than the exhalations and in three breaths I’m calmer and can get back to thinking without the emotions driving my thoughts.
As expectations are shattered and as life shifts and changes, anger is an easy emotion to find yourself in. Be gentle with yourself. Find out what you are afraid of not getting or what expectations you set up for yourself that have not manifested. Figure out if it is worth loosing your happiness and passion for life to be angry. And then take the advice of my children, “Breathe, Mom. It’s not worth getting angry over this, just breathe.”
Janine Bolon, Fool & Founder of The8Gates, writes your story of success. Find out how she does it here: http://the8gates.com/old/contact/