I’ll work sometimes with people who have trouble controlling their tempers. I’m not talking about people who occasionally get angry under more extreme conditions, I mean the sort of people who have an angry temperament. The sort that, for whatever reason, believe that the world is supposed to do more for them and if it doesn’t then they take it out in anger. In the worst cases this includes violence and based on my experience, both genders are equally guilty. So how can we improve these relations?
First we must impress on everyone that they do in fact have control over these feelings. A violent husband once told me he didn’t believe he had that control. I asked him if he ever got angry and hit his boss, or picked a fight with an enormous biker? He admitted he would never do that. I told him that was an expression of the fact that he does have the control he believes he doesn’t. In fact, the only reason he can’t make use of it is because he doesn’t realize that the control is legitimately his.
It may seem odd, but if anger is your problem then let anger be your guide. Actually focus on remembering the feeling of anger. You want to really get to know that swelling feeling that develops when you’re feeding more and more of the same unhealthy chemistry into a psychological loop. Remember how it races your heart and tenses your muscles and contracts your throat to change and speed up your voice. Remember that feeling and ask where it has lead in the past. What happened because you were angry? Where did it lead last time? What was the aftermath?
If you start associating that build of anger with negative outcomes in your life you will become more aware of the process of you adding to anger with your thinking. And just being aware of it will make you more capable of not doing it. And always remember that all thoughts weigh the same. You can change any one for any other. You just have to believe you can. And if you’re now actively conscious of the fact that you’ll be ruining your marriage or other relationship that you value, then you’ll be highly motivated to monitor your thoughts even more closely. It’s really not that hard. It just takes a bit of practice. I’ve seen people make big changes in short periods of time.
Use your emotions as signals as to where you thinking is, and then turn your thoughts as soon as possible if they are headed in a dangerous direction. If the emotions are unpleasant then the actions flowing from those thoughts are likely to do more harm than good. Even if you cannot immediately calm your thoughts down due to the chemical rush, just some time away from the situation will dispel the sensation naturally as your thoughts will eventually shift and your chemistry will follow. Just do your best to avoid action while you’re in an agitated state of mind.
Once you return to equilibrium try not to let your guilty thoughts prevent you from apologizing. It’s challenging at first but it soon becomes your nature. Once you repeat this cycle a few times it begins to feel more natural and that will continue right up to a day where you catch yourself being uncharacteristically patient. And then you’ll realize that you have reprogrammed yourself from being an angry person into a patient one. And you’ll also realize the process to do so was no where near as hard as you thought it might be. 😉
Here’s to a happy day
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.