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Leadership Thought #444 – If You Are Angry More than You’d Like To Be, Maybe The Problem is You

August 14, 2013

Free Man in Yellow Crew Neck T-shirt Pointing a Finger Stock Photo

Anger is a part of life. Everybody gets angry sometimes.  You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t access all your emotions occasionally.  However, I highly encourage you to pay attention to your dominant emotions.  If you start the day in a bad mood and it only goes downhill from there, then what did you expect to happen?  If your anger is too easily triggered by the actions of others, then why should you be surprised when people disappoint, annoy, or avoid you.  Often, we create the conditions under which we operate.  Personal energy is infectious.  Everyone we interact with is only feeding off the energy we put out.  Just experiment with frowning all day and smiling the next.  You will see a significant difference.  How are you showing up every day?  What impact are you having on the people around you?

A colleague I work with introduced me to the basic coaching question, “How’s it working for you?”  It is a simple but profound question.  If you do not like the results you are getting, then try something different.  You get nowhere good in life by banging your head against a brick wall.  All you do is feel bad afterwards.  Moreover, defending a position you should not is exhausting and pointless.  You won’t find happiness or contentment through recalcitrant anger only through positive action.  Are there areas in your life where you feel stuck and dissatisfied?  What are you doing differently to change this dynamic?

I don’t know about you, but I have a defensive almost visceral negative reaction when someone gets overly angry.  In addition, if the emotional reaction is disproportionate or out of context, then I start to wonder about that person’s mental stability and if there may be something deeper going on.  Unfortunately, unless that same person is willing to open up a bit and dig deeper into the root cause of their outburst, then nothing will ever really change.  Negative patterns emerge just easily as positive ones.  Ironically (and sadly), people tend to hold on tightly to what is holding them back.  They dig in at the very time they should let go.  Pride can be a big obstacle in our lives if we are not careful.   What, if anything, are you holding onto that you should let go of?

Always remember that what isn’t said is often more important than what is.  The lack of honest conversation only delays the inevitable and heightens the reaction.   Anger is typically the result of someone feeling wronged or hurt.  Fear also usually raises its ugly head in the background.  These feelings may be justified or not, but that is irrelevant from at least one person’s point of view.  You must understand what caused the pain before you can effectively deal with it.  Are there places in your life where you are causing or receiving too much pain?  Why? How can you begin the healing process?

Resolution of differences between two or more people only ever comes through open and honest communication (that is devoid of excessive judgment).  Overly judgmental people are usually angry at something.  They also tend to be poor listeners.   The most judgmental behavior is based on emotion not facts.   If you have ever had an argument with someone who has a poor grasp of the facts, you know what I am saying.  They attack you rather than listen.  Is there anyone you need to listen to more and talk at less?  Is it possible you could be wrong or partially misinformed about something?  Are you ever open to different points of view?

Finally, some anger you cannot work through on your own – it is deep seeded and complicated.  In these instances, you need to seek professional assistance to help to get through it.   This is nothing to be ashamed of.   Thankfully, many talented therapists are out there who can and will help.

Anger in and of itself is not bad.  Sometimes it is even appropriate.  There are no bad emotions, just bad actions.  You also should not remain in a space for too long that makes you feel bad rather than good.  Embrace your feelings but watch your actions.  If what you are doing is creating more not less negativity in your life, then something is wrong.