Anger Management

This morning I am coming to you from my laptop computer.  Normally I compose my daily emails from my home PC, but today I am doing it on the run and I am using my MacBook Pro.  For some reason my MacBook Pro is causing me incredible trouble trying to compose this email.  I won't go into details, suffice to say around every turn there's been a challenge and has resulting in me being very ANGRY!  

Anger is a powerful emotion that can turn us from being a happy and productive human being to a completely crazed lunatic. But here's the rub: to be a great leader, one must become a master of his emotions, which means in this case, controlling my anger!  And the funny thing about anger that I've discovered is when channelled well it can quickly dissipate, but when handled poorly it can multiply exponentially with huge consequences.  

Here are a couple applicable quotes:

  • "Anger is one letter short of danger" – Author Unknown
  • "Anger is a feeling that makes your mouth work faster than your mind" – Unknown Author
  • "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control" – Proverbs 29:11

So how does one control his or her anger?  Well, here are a couple additional tricks to controlling your anger:

Feel Your Anger, Don't Repress It

Many leaders were taught to repress their anger. Great leaders know this doesn't work. When you repress your anger two things can happen.  First, you'll probably get sick. Research suggests unfelt anger makes people sick. Common anger-related illnesses include chronic back pain, heart disease, high blood pressure, headaches, TMJ and depression.  Second, you can waste energy. Repressing anger is like holding a beach ball under water. It takes lots of energy.  Great leaders value energy, they don't waste it.  Express it in positive ways like mentioned above, or learn to pause and take a deep breath and then address the root of the anger in appropriate ways.

Take a few deep breaths

One of the most effective things you can do as soon as you start to feel the manifestations of anger is to train yourself to take a few deep breaths. Deep breathing can slow your heartbeat and lower or stabilize your blood pressure. Don't breathe from the chest—that won't help relax you. You need to breathe deeply from your diaphragm. If you're not used to doing this, take a hint from the American Psychological Association (APA): The APA recommends that you picture your breath coming up from your "gut" and slowly repeat a calming word or phrase, such as "relax" or "take it easy." Continue to repeat it to yourself while breathing deeply.

Press pause

When we're in the throes of an anger provoking situation, our brain starts to release adrenaline and other stress hormones. According to brain researcher Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, it takes less than 90 seconds for these chemicals to dissipate.  Here's how Bolte Taylor explains it: 

“Once triggered, the chemical released by my brain surges through your body and you have a physiological experience. Within 90 seconds from the initial trigger, the chemical component of your anger has completely dissipated from your blood and your automatic response is over. If, however, you remain angry after those 90 seconds have passed, then it's because you've chosen to let that circuit continue to run.” Getting used to briefly pausing in these stressful episodes is a smart move—it gives our brain time to enlist the left prefrontal cortex, which has an inhibitory circuit for the amygdala.

If you struggle with anger management, I strongly encourage you to practice controlling it.  Practice makes perfect!