As we all know, the effects of anger are bad and sad for all involved.
Sometimes, the negative consequences of an angry outburst can affect many people, play out over a lifetime and sometimes have ripple effects into future generations.
It is said that the Buddha taught that holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
Here is a technique, based on the Buddha’s teachings on mindfulness, to help you to know and change your anger.
When you next become angry, make a conscious effort to notice the anger arising and see if you can shift the focus of your awareness from the perceived cause of your anger to the nature and path of the anger within you.
Carefully notice how the anger arises, grows, peaks, subsides and dies within you.
Notice what happens with all of your senses.
Notice the sequence, the speed and the after-effects.
This is difficult to do at first. If you practice each time you feel anger arising within, you will become more skilful at being able to turn your focus inwards and observe what is happening to your whole ‘being’ as your unique anger life cycle plays through.
Over time, you will come to better understand your personal anger life cycle or the process of your anger.
You are now ready for making some positive personal change.
To make a change, simply choose to change one thing in your ‘anger life cycle’.
By doing this, you are disrupting a habitual pattern of behaviour – a well worn rut if you like.
Changes in personal habits start with one small shift in that well-worn pattern.
Even a small change can fundamentally alter your feelings of anger and also how you respond to a situation that has triggered your anger.
A possible Road Rage anger process/life cycle
1 Another driver cuts in front of you without indicating
2 You feel the fear of having an accident starting in your stomach. It feels like nausea and your legs become stiff at the same time
3 The nausea triggers a wave of heat that moves upward rapidly.
4 At the same time you notice your heart rate increase rapidly
5 You get a bad taste in your mouth and you hear a roaring of crashing waves in your ears
6 Your breathing becomes fast and shallow
7 Your thoughts become loud in your head – shouting profanities and you imagine strangling the other driver
8 Your thoughts start to become real words as you scream at the other driver at the same time as lowering your window with one hand and thumping the car horn with the other
9 Your foot hits the accelerator and you have a stronger urge to hit the other driver.
10 You erratically drive behind them until they speed off obviously in fear of their lives
11 As you realize they have gone, you continue to swear out loud and thump the steering wheel of your car
12 Slowly you feel the heat in your face drop back down through the body and your breathing becoming deeper and heart rate slowing
13 The nausea stays with you for another hour. You feel exhausted and wish you hadn’t got so angry
Now, make a change!
Next time this person feels the fear that creates the nausea in their stomach…and then gets that bad taste in their mouth….they
Take 3 deep breaths, as deep as they can
and then see what changes!
Like the above example, once you have experimented with changing one thing and then noticed what shifts and improves, you can confidently change other things in your anger life cycle too.
For example, when this person starts thinking of shouting profanities at another person, they could start visualising that they are sending lots of loving thoughts to them….and verbally thanking them for giving them this opportunity to practice positive change!
Wow, can you imagine doing that with someone you are getting angry with!
I have and I do practice this..and it is a fantastic way of turning anger into laughter!
Before long you will realize that you are becoming angry less and less often and certainly not as intensely when you do.
Watch, learn, experiment, review, implement, enjoy!
Love life, be loving and kind to the people in your life.
Life is too short to be angry!
Categories: Change Management