What are the payoffs for anger? I would argue that at first glance there are no positive feedback mechanisms that we could associate with anger, but believe it or not there are actually justifiable reasons to get angry that we keep hidden very deeply in our subconscious minds.
When we find it difficult to handle a situation or when we feel frustrated we choose to get angry to shift the responsibility of what’s happening to the other person instead of taking responsibility ourselves. It is easier to blame someone else when we feel defeated. Sometimes we use anger to manipulate those who fear us. Anger draws attention and can make us feel powerful and in control.
Anger is a good excuse. We can lose our temper and then excuse it by saying that we could not help reacting in the way we did. We sometimes get our way because people would rather placate us than face our destructive anger. If we want to avoid intimacy, we can use anger to divert the situation away from us having to be vulnerable. We can get other to feel guilty when we lose our cool by having them think that somehow they did something to cause us to lose our cool.
We can feel sorry for ourselves after losing our temper and then get others’ pity too. There are many other reasons why people choose to get angry, but these are the main ones in my mind. I know that these are hard to accept, but somehow we must face these twisted reasons we have for getting so angry before we can change anything. When we have done that we can start reducing the effect anger has in our lives by implementing the following steps.
Get in touch with what you feel when you get angry and remind yourself that you can change your way of thinking. Be aware and you can then control a new flow of thoughts that would avoid you hurting others. Try to postpone your angry reaction and do this for lengthening periods of time until you realize that you can control those explosive moments when you lash out at everybody else.
When you are trying to use anger to teach a child or a loved one something try to fake your anger by raising your voice without actually getting angry. Remind yourself when you are angry that no two people are exactly the same and that your getting angry because someone does not react the way you would does not allow them to be themselves. You need to allow others to be who they choose to be and when you start thinking like that you will find yourself getting angry less often.
Ask a loved one to give you a signal to show you when you are starting to exhibit signs of anger and stop when that signal has been given. Excuse yourself if you must and be aware of why you chose to get angry at that exact moment. Keep an anger journal in which you record every instance when you got angry and describe it all in detail. If you are a busy person just having to do this menial task will also have you try to minimize the time spent writing events down and will help you develop different patterns of thought and behavior.
Try being physically close to someone while you are angry even when it is natural to not want to do so. Keep holding that person lovingly until all your feelings have been addressed. You will find that you will soon stop shouting and address the person you are communicating within a more loving way as well.
Talk with those who are most frequently the victims of your anger when you are not angry and talk about what the triggers are for that anger and how you both plan on defusing that anger before it gets abusive to either party. Defuse anger by trying to get in touch with what you are feeling and how you believe your partner is feeling. When you delay shouting by a few seconds you will find it a little more difficult to launch into the tantrum you were planning on indulging in.
Get rid of the expectations you have for your loved ones and you will find that your anger will already be less than before. Count out loud – I know a very old strategy, but heck it worked for our grandparents. Why would it not work for us? Remember that you never need to get angry. It is not natural or “just human”. If you think about anger like this, it will be easier to work on eliminating it from your life.
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