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3. Find the triggers and roots
By keeping an anger journal, it will be much easier to identify and break patterns that trigger an episode of extreme anger.
Bad traffic, idiot drivers, conniving co-workers, a slow waitress, a computer that constantly freezes up, and delayed or canceled flights are examples of things that bring out the beast in some people. Others may get angry at a certain time of the day, week, or month.
What triggers your anger?
Once you recognize a pattern in the types of events that trigger your anger, it’s time to dig deeper and find the roots.
What past experiences have compelled you to react the same way?
Finding the root of your anger may take some time; you might have to sleep on it for a while. In the meantime, whenever the beast starts to come out…
4. Hit the pause button
Picture this. A guy named Michael has terrible day at work and he can’t wait to go home to get some peace and quiet. When he arrives home his 11-year old daughter and some of her friends are playing in the living room. He tries to find a quiet spot in the kitchen, but his wife is in there with her friends—the mothers of her daughter’s friends.
So, Michael heads off to his bedroom. Still no luck. Every 10 seconds he can hear a loud chorus of “oooh’s” and “ah’s”. His 17-year old son and some friends are upstairs in his son’s room playing video games on the Wii.
Feeling robbed of his peace and quiet; Michael can sense the start of an avalanche of anger. It began with a feeling in the pit of his stomach shooting up to his head, causing a sensation of heat and pressure.
Blood started rushing to his head. Depending of Michael’s pigmentation, the extra blood flow could cause his face to turn red. (I remember reading somewhere that this is probably where the term “hothead” originated.) At a moment like this logic typically goes right out the window and it did.
Michael erupted. He started yelling at the top of his lungs about not getting any respect and not being able to relax in his own house after a hard days work. His wife and kids were embarrassed and their friends were, too. For the next few days Michael had more peace and quiet than he bargained for because nobody was talking to him. Can you say “silent treatment”?
Please understand that I’m kind of on Michael’s side. Michael’s anger was understandable, maybe even justified depending on how you look at it, but the behavior was destructive.
Million-Dollar Question: What was the best thing that Michael--or anyone else for that matter--could’ve done?
Pretend life is a DVD player, hit the pause button, and take the proverbial deep breath.
In an article called With Friends Like These, I explain the scientific validity to the age-old adage: count to ten. Taking at least a 6-second pause allows a bit of logic to return and the wave of emotion to subside. (Well…at least a little.) Hitting the pause button also gives you chance to…