One of the important components of anger management is getting an understanding of where your anger is coming from so that you can work towards not only managing your anger when it comes up but also keeping it from boiling over in the first place.
Often the reason we get angry is due to our beliefs and expectations. We expect the world to run a certain way; we believe things should be a certain way; and when they don’t, the discrepancy between those thoughts and the reality lead to anger.
For example, you’re expecting the bus to arrive at 8:30. But it doesn’t show up until 8:42. It is natural to feel angry in such a situation, especially if you really need to be somewhere on time. But just because the feeling is natural doesn’t mean it’s obligatory. It would sure be nice for the bus to arrive when it’s supposed to. But who says the world should run that way? Holding the entire world up to your standard is bound to get you upset. Letting go of the requirement for everyone else to do things the way you want them is a much easier way to get through life.
That doesn’t mean you are going to let others walk all over you; if your friend is consistently late to meet up with you, you may choose to stop hanging out with them. For you to keep setting up rendezvous times and keep getting mad when they show up late is a poor approach to keeping your cool.
“But,” you may protest, “it is correct to be angry when someone does something wrong!” Sure, we should be angry when we see evil in the world. But how often do you find yourself exploding at the TV when the news shows a dictator enslaving his people? You may find it upsetting, but you probably don’t blow your top the same way you might when someone offends you specifically. Which is an indication that your anger is less about the wrongdoing and more about the personal insult. Changing your expectations doesn’t mean accepting wrong as right; it means not holding everyone else in the world responsible for not insulting you.
That is a belief that you are holding onto that contributes to your getting angry when other people don’t live up to it. The world really doesn’t have an obligation to avoid offending you. The world will run as it always has and always will – with some good people and some bad people, some fortuitous events and some unfortunate ones – and you will have to decide how you are going to live your life in that context. Are you going to put your emotional state at the mercy of everybody else on the planet?
Recognizing where your beliefs and expectations are setting you up for failure and frustration is a vital way of getting a handle on your anger. In future posts we’ll take a look at some of the common beliefs people have that are worth revisiting for the sake of your own happiness and success.
Learn more about our services for anger management here.