The workshops I run are not about helping people get rid of their anger. They are about helping people deal with anger more effectively.
Basically what I teach and use myself when dealing with any kind of disturbing emotion are three simple steps:
Consciously chosen response (rather than habitual reaction)
Let’s take the example in the picture and say I just got up and, still quite sleepy, I’m starting to make myself a coffee. I don’t drink filtered coffee but let’s say I did and in the process of preparing that coffee, I’m struggling to separate the coffee filters. If I were to find myself getting disproportionately irate at this struggle, I would recognise this as an alarm sign that calls for raising my self-awareness. So I would stop what I am doing, put my hand on my heart and ask myself: “Okay sweetie, what’s really going on here?” (Because one thing is for sure, it’s not the coffee filters that are the problem!) I might then become aware that I am still upset about something that happened the previous day or maybe I am apprehensive about something that lies ahead of me. Being aware now of what’s going on underneath the surface, I will then ask myself what I need (self-love) and choose an appropriate response to meet that need.
Getting angry about stupid little things can be a great alarm bell for noticing when something’s bubbling underneath and for raising our self-awareness. It's what I call an emotional smoke alarm.
If you have issues with anger and want to learn how to manage it and how to be calmer, the worst thing you can do is to try and get rid of it. The more you tell yourself “I mustn’t get angry, I mustn’t get angry” the more pressure you create inside of yourself and all that suppressed anger has no other way to escape but to blow up the pressure cooker you created. It’s not anger itself that we want to avoid, it’s uncontrollable outbursts of anger. Paradoxically, suppressing anger and not dealing with it, is exactly what causes these outbursts.
What I teach people is learning to detect anger as early as possible. We need to fine-tune our emotional radar to be able to detect the earliest signs of anger (or any other disturbing emotion for that matter) and deal with it immediately. We do that by refraining from judging and suppressing and instead choosing to walk towards anger with open arms and embrace it. “Hello anger. What can I do to help?” It’s about identifying the underlying unmet need and then choosing an appropriate response to meet that need.
As long as we judge ourselves for feeling angry and strive for a state completely free from anger I’m afraid we will remain slaves to our anger and anger will continue to lead us around by the nose.
It’s not anger that is the problem; it’s how we deal with it or rather not deal with it that is.