A Powerful Strategy For Managing Your Anger
In order to effectively manage your anger, you need to identify your initial “anger inducing” thoughts. In your first moment of anger, what thoughts or phrases often come rushing into your mind? Check all that apply:
□ “I won’t take this garbage from anybody!”
□ “This is so unfair.”
□ “This is impossible. I can’t stand it.”
□ “No one appreciates me.”
□ “How dare you treat me that way!”
□ “You are such a jerk!”
□ “They’re all out to get me.”
□ “You’re always putting me down.”
These thoughts are so negative and toxic that they can cause you to instantly become angry. These initial angry thoughts are often inaccurate assumptions that lack objectivity.
Once you’ve identified your initial “anger inducing” thoughts, you need to see if they are accurate. For example, when you think, “They’re all out to get me,” stop and make yourself recall examples that disprove this thought. Another example is the statement, “You’re always putting me down.” Does she ALWAYS put you down or does she sometimes affirm and encourage you?
Instead of simply accepting the initial thought, “This is impossible; I can’t stand it,” you need to evaluate it for accuracy. Why is it impossible? On further reflection, you will probably realize that it is difficult or upsetting rather than impossible.
“I can’t stand it!” is another anger inducing thought that needs to be evaluated for accuracy. Before you lose your temper you need to ask yourself, “Why can’t I stand it? Must everything in life be easy and pleasant? Haven’t I been able to stand similar situations in the past?”
What is the source of these anger inducing thoughts? In some cases, it may be a result of unresolved hurts from your past. For example, you may have been treated unfairly or harshly by a parent, a teacher or a classmate, etc. who bullied or gossiped about you.
Another possible source of these inaccurate thoughts is low self-esteem. Researchers have observed that those who struggle with low self-esteem often have difficulty managing their anger. According to Nathanial Brandon, Ph.D., self-esteem is the reputation we acquire with ourselves. He further writes in his book, “The Six Pillars of Self-esteem,” that, “self-esteem is the confidence in our right to be happy, the feeling of being worthy, deserving, entitled to assert our needs and wants and to enjoy the fruits of our efforts.” Self-esteem also includes confidence in your ability to cope with the basic challenges of life.
Even people with high self-esteem sometimes struggle with low self-esteem in one or two areas of their life. For example, you may feel good about your ability to do your job well, but you may dislike your appearance or your grammar.
If you don’t feel good about yourself, it is easy to misinterpret other people’s behavior and believe that they don’t like you and are even “out to get you.” In contrast, when you have healthy self-esteem, you are able to avoid taking things so personally. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow observed, “He who respects himself is safe from others; he wears a coat of mail that none can pierce.”