- Ricka Robb Kohnstamm
Does your explosive anger burn yourself and others?
Anger, when approached with skill and awareness, can fuel healing action.
And, when not handled carefully or with awareness, anger can shoot up, hot and out of control, causing long-lasting damage that scalds relationships, families, and workplaces.
If I'm not being mindful, I might even blame my hot anger on someone else: "I've asked for the same thing at least fifty times! YOU WOULD HAVE GOTTEN ANGRY, TOO!"
My anger belongs to me and is mine to manage responsibly, no matter what.
Hot, explosive anger is dangerous for ourselves and others we care about - children, family systems, work mates, friendships, pets. It also masks the root problem with smoke and bluster... people run and hide instead of moving closer.
It is ironic that hot anger pushes people away, when what we really want is to fulfill a missing need... "I am missing something that I need, please hear me."
How do I cool the anger down so that I can use anger energy responsibly?
Here are four choices to consider...
Recognize your patterns. Start by recognizing your own anger patterns. When do you get heated up? Is it late at night? When you are hungry? When there is too much chaos around you? When you are requiring yourself to do too many things at once? Draw up reminders for yourself so that you know which combination of soothing medicines to choose - sleep, quiet, a small fist of walnuts, a hug. Simply recognize, without deflecting.
Identify the signposts. The energy of anger is important information reminding you (yet again) that a need is not being met. Instead of blowing your stack, take the time to responsibly identify what is missing... do you crave consistency? Do you miss a feeling of belonging? Are you in need of adventure? Do you need to feel seen and heard? Every single person has a right to have needs met and you are no exception. Request a needs list to identify missing needs before boiling anger reminds you.
Notice the choice point. When anger boils up, pause to notice that you have choice, then stretch out the choice point to consider more options for best next steps. It is a choice to let the anger boil over. It is also a choice to take a step back to consider the root need that is not being met, and to consider more helpful approaches to getting that need met.
Return to your right path. Notice what it feels like to take responsibility for staying on your own right path, which includes understanding your own anger and taking responsibility for it. Notice what your anger may really be telling you -
"I miss you and want to be back in good relationship."
"Your approval matters to me."
"I want to feel included in the family."
"You and I are a stronger team together and even though you bug me, I love you and want to work with you to find a better way."
"I want our relationship to be one of ease, not tension. I care about you."
"I am burnt out and need a break."
"This workplace is no longer right for me."
"I need more support to keep everything working."
"I am grieving and I need to feel seen by you."
Actions, aligned with values, support optimal health.