Anger or aggression is probably the most misunderstood emotion we humans have. And therefore in the biggest need to be managed. It can be a beautiful gift or an ugly curse.
In order for us to manage our anger effectively we need to keep two basic cornerstones of emotion in mind. One, emotion has a survival function and two; emotion is energy in our system.
Understanding anger through these two lenses will help us manage it. In my mental map of anger, the survival function of anger is to protect us from unfairness.
Unpacking this belief system that anger protects us, there are two important elements to keep in mind. The first is that our brain automatically moves away from any unfairness and move towards fairness and secondly; we are talking about perceived fairness or unfairness.
This perception is guided by our goals and desires. We may desire something and set a goal to have it. When we get it, we experience a positive reward. When something or someone prevents us from obtaining our desired goal, we easily experience this as unfair as we believe we have a right to our desired goal.
An important part of managing our anger is to educate our perception around our rights. We then need to align our desires and goals to this created standard. This education needs to enable us to distinguish between real unfairness and imagined unfairness. Real unfairness normally has an objective standard to which it can be measured. Imagined unfairness normally is a creation of our selfish ego.
Just as important is to be very clear about what the obstacle really is. What often happens is that we have an obstacle in one part of our life, say for example at work, but we are angry with our spouse. Make sure you know the true source of your anger.
Thinking about anger as energy in our system, we know that energy cannot be destroyed. Therefore, when our perception of unfairness creates this emotional energy; we need to direct it appropriately.
How we choose to direct this energy determines whether we mastered our anger or whether it has enslaved us.
Left on its own, anger tends to be destructive. It wants to break through the obstacle on its way to the desired goal. Often this is exhibited in verbal of physical violence.
But what most people do not realize is that like all emotions, anger also has a flip side. The opposite of destruction is creation. We have the ability to either break through the obstacle or build a bridge over it. The energy is in our system, we can decide in which way it will flow.
My invitation is to choose to let the gift of anger build a better world.
When managing this flow of energy, we can ask the question, what would the constructive way be to get to my goal? How can I get what I want and have a positive relationship?
Yes sometimes there is an obstacle that needs to be removed. Just remember demolishing is not the same as destruction. Use your energy wisely.
Still managing and on the way to mastering.