How to Get Rid of Your Anger
About the target of your anger (2:10)
The big question to ask about y:our anger (5:45)
How to take care of yourself when you’re angry (and two more questions) (7:55)
Anger as the entry point (17:30)
How to Get Rid of Your Anger
I love my work, but I have so much anger toward my director that it’s impacting our working relationship! It causes me continual anxiety and stress, and it’s probably damaging my relationship with this company.
I’ve tried everything! I try to hide it, I try to mask it, I try and get over it, but I keep getting triggered, and my anger keeps coming out again and again and again, every time I see his face or hear his voice.
What can I do, Beth, to get rid of this anger?!
I hear statements like this from clients, over and over and over again. Why? Because anger is one of those key symptoms that get manifested when we are feeling found out, embarrassed, insecure, or otherwise at risk.
In the work environment, many of us try to suppress or deny the anger we’re experiencing because, well, it’s just not appropriate. But through that denial, more anger and more resentment are generated, and from that suppression, the anger sneaks out sideways when we’re least expecting it.
Ultimately, suppressed anger is one of the primary ways that working relationships get destroyed, careers get stalled, and reputations go in directions that we are just not intending.
About the Target of Your Anger
When I ask clients, “What would be the absolute best possible thing that could happen to rid you of your anger once and for all?” they point to a target and say, “If that target were obliterated, I would be fine.”
As an example, they say things like:
“If my director were fired tomorrow, I would be great.”
“If so-and-so were no longer part of my workgroup, things would be just fine.”
“If that customer would start shopping somewhere else, I’d be great.”
You see, many of us carry the false belief that anger is about the target. But, in reality, the target simply justifies our anger and the energy of anger that we feel in our body. Wouldn’t it be lovely if simply saying, “Good riddance!” to the target of our anger was enough to make us never feel that anger again? But that’s not how it works.
Think about it: Is there someone in your life, right this minute, who you feel so much anger toward that their very existence is creating an obstacle on your pathway to success or happiness? Is there someone where just thinking about them causes you to feel an energy that you’ve labeled as anger?
I’ll bet there is because, at one time or another, there is for all of us. However, here’s the truth…
That person is simply a messenger for you, and while you may or may not agree with their actions, values, beliefs, or decisions, the energy you feel and label as anger is an indication that there is something more going on inside you.
You see, as you’ve heard me say before, the only person you can ever truly manage and change is yourself. So, if that person who is the target of your anger were to be gone tomorrow, guess what would be left? You and your anger. It would still be there. I’m sorry, but that is the simple truth.
The Big Question to Ask About Your Anger
To help you to understand this, I’m going to ask you to tap into your non-thinking mind, your subconscious, and ask it this question—
When have I felt this emotional energy – labeled as anger – before?
Now, don’t try to answer this question with your brain. When you ask it, just feel what comes up in your body, and see what you notice. It’s not likely to be a concrete answer like: I felt it before on January 5th, 2015, when I was in a relationship with Jackson or I felt it in 1998 when I worked for Lucy.
When you allow your thinking mind to go offline, the answer will show up more like a feeling or vibration or image. So take a moment now, and give your thinking mind permission not to attach to or manufacture thoughts. Take three deep breaths and then ask your subconscious: When have I felt the energy of this anger before?
You have likely noticed that this is not the first time you felt the energy of this anger, which is a trigger reaction. This familiarity is your indication that there’s something for you to work on, because removal of the messenger (aka the target) isn’t going to resolve it, and trying to get over it or fake it only means that the anger will come out and trip you up when you least expect it.
How to Take Care of Yourself When You’re Angry
So, how do you care for yourself when you’re experiencing the energy of anger?
Now, as we go through the next steps, I want you to know that all you have to do is read and allow what I’m saying to sweep over you. You don’t have to take notes or memorize them; you can download the steps and repeat this anger release process anytime.
For right now, do your best to let go of any thoughts of skepticism, and simply trust the process – because hey, it’s not going to hurt, and maybe when you let go of skepticism, you will actually feel a shift. So, tell your thinking mind, “Hey, I got this. We’re safe. This is just an experiment, so let’s relax and go with it.”
So if you’re ready, let’s begin…
STEP ONE: Accept that anger is not a pure emotion. Emotions are simply energies or vibrations in our body to which our thinking mind assigns a label. So when you exclaim, “I’m so angry!” you’re just selecting a label for that particular vibration.
Now, how empowering does it feel to know that you have a choice on how you label the vibration that you feel?
STEP TWO: Accept that anger is a combination of two vibrations. So, we’re also in the habit of labeling the multiple vibrations that often underlie our anger, labeling them as fear and sadness. Note that fear and sadness both have subcategories. Fear includes anxiety, embarrassment, shame, and worry, while sadness includes grief, loss, disappointment, and heartache.
It’s important to accept that anger is a combination of these two emotional vibrations.
STEP THREE: Ask yourself two more simple, yet really powerful, questions.
The first question is: “What in this vibration of anger am I most fearing?” or you can ask “What am I most fearful about as related to this situation?”
Here are some things clients tell me about their underlying fears:
“I’m fearful that my director doesn’t share the same goals that I have for our program.”
“I’m really committed to the outcomes that I believe are the right ones, and I came here to work for a director who also shares my belief. But he left right after I arrived, and I’m super-pissed off about that because I’m not sure my new director and I have the same vision.”
“I’m fearful and I’m sad that I might have to start my career over again in a whole new place.”
“I’m fearful that I’m beginning to be seen as difficult or shut down, and that alone will significantly impact how successful I am at this job.”
“I’m fearful that this relationship is not turning out to be the perfect relationship that I want. I thought it would be, and maybe I’m just not able to be in successful relationships.”
So, what in this space of anger are you fearing the most?
The second question to ask yourself is: “What about this situation is bringing up sadness?” or you can phrase it as “What am I most sad about within this anger?”
Here are some things clients tell me about their underlying sadness:
“I’m sad that the organization may go in a different direction than I have worked so hard to take it.”
“I’m feeling deep disappointment that the mentor I came to work for left right after I arrived.”
“I am so disheartened that this company that I put on a pedestal – I couldn’t wait to work in its culture and with the work that it’s doing – in reality, is different from what I thought it was and more flawed than I believed.”
“My heart hurts when I realize that my hope for this relationship may not be fulfilled in the ways I dreamed about.”
Notice if your energy begins to shift as you acknowledge where you’re feeling fear and sadness, as you get tapped into and acknowledge that.
STEP FOUR: Find forgiveness. We spend so much time waiting for and hoping for apologies from people we believe have wronged us – the people who are the targets for our anger. But remember, the only person you can manage, shift, or change is yourself. The only person there is any value in developing expectations for is yourself.
So, from each of those two powerful questions and their answers, you are now going to uncover things you just may want to forgive yourself for.
“I forgive myself for deciding to come here to work under someone without realizing that they were on their way out.”
“I forgive myself for blowing up at my partner when their behavior wasn’t aligned with what I had set as expectations for them.”
“I forgive myself for shutting down and withholding information when I was asked for input on something I didn’t agree with.”
“I forgive myself for responding to feedback in a way that was neither professional nor helpful.”
In other words, self-care and self-management are about giving yourself the apology or the acknowledgment that you’re waiting for from someone else. Remember, you can only manage yourself, and you can only truly make amends with yourself. Without self-forgiveness, all other forgiveness feels hollow or just not enough.
Anger as the entry point
Many in the world of psychology recognize that anger is not a pure standalone emotion but, instead, view anger as the entry point or pathway to all negative emotions. Often anger is a substitute emotion, meaning that we use anger to avoid dealing with negative emotions we consider too painful or distressful to experience, such as loss, sadness, grief, and disappointment.
So, when you ask these questions about the anger energy you’re feeling:
When have I felt this before?
What do I fear more about this situation?
What about this situation is bringing up sadness?
And you follow those insights with the question “What do I need to forgive myself for?” you’ve taken some very effective steps to uncovering and acknowledging what is percolating for you under the substitute emotion of anger.
Now is a great time to explore the dissipation of your anger and engage in this practice.
p.s. Are you dealing with distrust, drama, and chaos in your workplace? Well, if you are, you're not alone. There’s a great deal of uncertainty and confusion in the world, and it's instilling fear and vulnerability in people, as well as pushing their emotional buttons. If you feel your organization is being left out or left behind because it can't effectively navigate change, contact me. Let’s get together and dig below the apparent symptoms to uncover the real concerns, and build a plan to increase the forward movement of your team or organization.