Conquer and convert your anger

To conquer a habitual anger response, it is helpful to start observing some of your thought patterns.

by Ada Porat — 

We often hear people say, “He made me angry,” or “I could not help getting mad.” These statements put the blame for becoming angry on others or circumstances outside yourself — ultimately disempowering you.

The truth is that only you can minimize anger. With a little time and effort, you can convert energy wasted on anger into something more useful.

Anger is the result of frustrated desire. Its developmental cycle is short and swift. First, you may start by having a desire or wish. There is nothing wrong with that, but when you add energy to that desire, it develops into a demand. As soon as the demand encounters frustration, you are into anger. Others may tell you not to be so demanding, but that is a lot easier said than done.

To conquer a habitual anger response, it is helpful to start observing some of your thought patterns. Observe the randomness of thoughts flowing through your mind. In observing the flow of these thoughts, recognize that some of them do not originate at the conscious level of thinking at all. They may be habitual snippets you heard on radio or television, or pieces of conversations you had years ago. And yet, these subconscious thoughts can still negatively influence your thinking and responses today.

Every behavior starts off with a thought, which evokes a corresponding emotion. At that stage you may believe you feel angry, depressed or humiliated. Pay attention to the process, and you will notice how every feeling is preceded by a mental discussion. The internal dialogue may sound like, “How dare she treat me like that. She has some nerve!” Even when you do not pay attention to this internal dialogue, you will experience the resulting emotion. Next, your emotions translate into behavior that is visible to others. You may lash out or go on the attack verbally.

The anger cycle, then, flows from thoughts to feelings to behavior, like concentric circles rippling out from an archery target — originating thoughts at the center, rippling outward to the next ring of emotion and spilling over into the outer ring of behavior. Of the three stages, behavior is the biggest and most visible aspect.

When you get angry, you actually lose control of your logical and constructive mental resources. Your anger also sends a signal to the adrenal glands to flood the body with stress hormones, and it may take hours to return to equilibrium. Meanwhile, you may have caused others significant pain by your outburst.

To break the cycle of anger, you first need to consciously become aware of your thoughts as they arise. Start noticing which ones irritate you or make your anger flare. Train yourself to retrace these trigger thoughts until you become aware of their presence when they arise. Noticing the thoughts before you respond to them is a significant step forward in managing your anger response.

Eventually, you will reach a stage of awareness where you catch trigger thoughts early enough to consciously decide not to get angry. You will be able to choose an alternative response to stay in balance and harmony.

When you can catch and respond to thoughts in this way, you are empowered over your emotional responses. Instead of feeling that people or circumstances press your buttons or make you angry, you will be free to choose a response. One choice is not to become angry. If you do get angry, it will be because you choose to.

Over time, this growth in self-awareness will restore the power over your thoughts, emotions and behavior to the rightful custodian — you. It will be a relief and an energy saver.


Ada Porat is an energy kinesiologist and life coach who helps people live their best life. or 602-283-4628.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 30, Number 2, April/May 2011.


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