Managing your Anger

Anger can be a gift

Master your anger

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.

Anger is the deepest form of caringBut 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.


Disciplining our Fear

In an interview just after Nelson Mandela’s death, Trevor Manuel said something beautiful of his experience of this great statesman. He said “Madiba disciplined his anger.”

For me, it is a profound statement. Its simplicity barely hides the latent power. We should all discipline our emotions, and the first point of order is disciplining our fear.

In the South African context of today, unfortunately, our politicians did not follow in the footsteps of our hero. Where Mandela focused on the improvement of all, todays politicians focus on the improvement of a selected few. The ripple effect of this, is that people act out against lifeless statues. Anger born out of the shared experienced of current injustice, is directed to historic injustices. In my mind, mostly because of denied fear.

This fear can be of many things – the fear of not being part of the select few that benefit, fear to admit that we made a mistake in voting as we did, fear that there will be discriminated against us. No matter what the fear – we need to discipline our fear.



Fear is a primary emotion. Any emotion, if not trained tend to hurt us. Just like riding an untrained horse, could end in injury, not training our emotions tend to hurt us. Contrast this to the joy and freedom that riding a trained horse brings.

Disciplining our emotions also brings freedom. Especially when we discipline our fear.

Fear wants to protect us. The survival function of fear is protect us from a threat. So when we experience fear, we should ask ourselves: “What is threatening me?”

Then, when we identify the threat, then we need to add the discipline by asking: “Is this threat real or imagined?”

Please, I invite you to pause and think about this. Most of what we fear, is imagined. Threats created by the media, other peoples insecurities or agendas, our own biases and stereotypes. Yet very few are life threatening. Sure life is full of dangers, but so what?

Again, I invite you, start believing in your own ability to overcome any obstacle, more that believing the popular gossip that was designed to enslave you. You are stronger than you think. Even if you lose everything that you hold dear – you will be able to start again. You have it in you.

Now, I challenge you. Confront your fear. This is the only way to overcome it and tame it. This is the disciplined way to act. This is courage, to proceed in the face of your fear. Be courageous.

A few month ago, I grew afraid of a certain group of people. When I realized this, I phoned a friend in that group and drank some tea with him. Now I have perspective. Like in any group, the majority are kind and friendly. the minority voice their fear in anger. I disciplined my fear.

With courageous discipline.


Speaking your Truth

I recently had the liberating experience of speaking my truth to a trusted friend.

Up to that point I was stuck. the issue was preoccupying me. I was aware of the fact that I spend way to much thinking energy on this issue, but regardless of this awareness, I was stuck.

I know this place. I see it in many of my clients. Now I can acknowledge myself for also being a beautiful human being. One that gets stuck and need someone to unstuck me. Someone to hold the space for me while I speak my truth.

Speaking our truth scares us. We have this preconceived idea that if we say what we really think and feel, we will be rejected. This fear come from a very deep need to be related. To belong, to be connected. And we tend to believe the lie that we will be rejected if we do speak our truth.

Listen, I often speak the truth to people. My clients rely on me for that. But I take responsibility for very seldomly speak my truth. Because, I too have this false mental map. And this fear got me stuck.

Having the courage to trust someone enough to speak my truth to them, unblocked me and gave me a deeper connection and acceptance. Increasing just that what I feared I would lose.

And I realize that this can become a new habit of expressing my integrity.

Ash Beckham gave a awesome TED talk on how to get out of the closet in everyday life and in every day relationships.

I find her insight powerful. Her talk started my journey on speaking my truth to those I care enough for. May I invite you to do the same?

In truth


How to turn small talk into smart conversation

How to turn small talk into smart conversation

This is very very helpful!

Tips from a comedian and a journalist on the art of going from small talk to big ideas — all summer long.

Imagine almost any situation where two or more people are gathered—a wedding reception, a job interview, two off-duty cops hanging out in a Jacuzzi.

What do these situations have in common? Almost all of them involve people trying to talk with each other. But in these very moments where a conversation would enhance an encounter, we often fall short. We can’t think of a thing to say.

Or worse, we do a passable job at talking. We stagger through our romantic, professional and social worlds with the goal merely of not crashing, never considering that we might soar. We go home sweaty and puffy, and eat birthday cake in the shower.

We stagger through our romantic, professional and social worlds with the goal merely of not crashing, never considering…

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Our debt to the universe and what lying has to do with it

Year ago a client shared an mental map he had of life. He said we all have a debt to pay to the universe. and we have a choice – pay it regularly or procrastinate and pay all the cumilated interest in one big payment.

Referring to an emotional debt, he was of opinion that we (especially men) need to cultivate the ability to be true to our emotional experiences, own it and express it in a constructive way. This was his way of paying of the debt on a monthly basis. If we neglect this, the emotional interest will build up and demand payment once of in the form of a heart attack, burnout or social loneliness.

This framework stuck with me and I think we can apply it to the embryo, the starting point of all personal power and happiness – taking responsibility for yourself.

I would like to disagree with my client on an important point, though. I do not think we have a debt to pay. I think we simple have an account. And it is our choice to build a positive saldo throughout life or borrow from the universe.

The sooner we choose to take responsibility for our life, the sooner we can build up an emotional nest egg, from which we can withdraw when life demands it.

Not taking responsibility for our life, is like using a credit card to buy stuff. You owe life the energy you are consuming.  And it seems life has a way of collecting.

So what has lying got to do with all this?

I think lying is the act of withdrawing from our account. Being truthful is the deposit.

When we lie. Especially when we lie to ourselves, we choose not to take responsibility. We shift blame and give reasons. Our cognitive dissonance kicks in and we do not want to accept that we are the cause of the life we are experiencing. We give our personal authority away and our mistakes becomes bags of regret that bog us down.

In contrast, when we own up. we make a deposit. When we choose to say “I am responsible” then we have the emotional energy to actually do something about our situation. We securely keep our personal authority internal. Then mistakes become fertile learning experiences and stepping stones to creating our vision.

The invitation then is, take responsibility for your life account and start building a positive balance.

Still depositing.