Anger is an issue to which many people seek help. It is also a subject that may come up in your life coaching clients. Fortunately, there are many ways to cool or redirect anger, and I’ll discuss a few of the better ones in this article.
The first step to resolving anger is to understand it. Anger is an evolutionary response to a threat. Adrenaline production increases and fight-or-flight reactions set in which, although these will negatively affect your short-term health over time, they also help you survive in a hostile world. In the past, when a fight-or-flight reaction happened to the stone-age man, it usually saved his life, i.e., he outfought or outran the saber-toothed tiger.
Times have changed, but not our responses. In today’s world without saber-toothed tigers, holding onto anger will only hurt you.
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” – Mark Twain
Its important to understand – and share with your coaching clients – that anger is not an efficient defense against things outside of you. The reaction itself arises in the Reticular Activating Systems (RAS) – what is commonly referred to as our “lizard brain” – and is therefore not rational. Anger also cuts both ways: while it may help you survive a physical threat, in the absence of one it also can undermine both your health and relationships.
Anger is an emotion you experience in the moment . . . at least until your conscious, reasoning mind can interject. As Plato said:
“There are two things a person should never be angry at: what they can help, and what they cannot.”
Of course, we are not computers. We don’t function purely on rationality alone. So don’t beat yourself up if you’re experiencing anger. In fact, do the opposite. Take the time to nourish yourself.
“The greatest remedy for anger is delay.” – Thomas Paine.
Take a deep breath. Allow yourself to feel and acknowledge the anger within you. Say hello to it. Then, let it go. This might take a while, even days, but the first deep breath will already be a relief. Be compassionate with yourself during this process. It is worth the time.
“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching
The mistake many people make, myself included, is repressing anger instead of releasing it. This can be even worse than acting on anger because it will build up inside of you like a toxin. Remember that anger isn’t bad in and of itself. It’s what you do with it that counts.
“Anger is an essential part of being human. People are taught to deny themselves anger, and in this, they are actually opening themselves up to hate. The more you deny yourself the freedom to be angry, the more you will hate. Let yourself be angry, and hate will disintegrate, and when hate disintegrates, forgiveness prevails! The more you deny that you are angry, in attempts to be “holy” the more inhuman you will become, and the more inhuman you will become, the harder it will be to forgive.” ― C. JoyBell C.
When anger comes up in life coaching, I like to use Dr. Craig’s Logical Soul® Forgiveness Process to “give back” that energy. This energy exchange allows balance to return. You can learn more about this unique Forgiveness Process at the next Logical Soul® Life Coach Certification course.