My dad had a hair-trigger temper. The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.
I still grapple with anger sometimes triggered by the stupidest things.
Bad drivers are a good example. There are millions of them! But I’m learning to pause better when one of them pisses me off. I think of a famous quote by comedian, George Carlin.
Have you ever noticed that everyone who drives faster than you is an asshole and everyone who drives slower than you is an idiot?
The only person left at this point is you. Hmmmm…
That’s a very privileged place to be. You always get to be right. It might be a little lonely…but hey, you get to be right!
How we deal with our emotions of anger is 100% up to us. Nobody else has a role in how WE THINK about the event which triggered our EMOTION of anger. It’s not the job of the assholes or the idiots…just us.
But why is it so hard to own this? Why are we so tempted to blame someone else for our emotions?
When it comes to anger, I think the answer is an undeveloped awareness of the NANOSECOND of time between stimulus and response.
Just like well trained martial artists, an “anger ninja” sees things unfolding in slow motion. He doesn’t overreact to threats because he can see the “bullets” coming at him. He’s unafraid because he knows he can respond before they hurt him.
A calm, confident, secure man is able to identify a trigger in the making. He’s sees the events leading up to it in slow motion and he’s already planning what he will THINK about it when that nanosecond has expired. And this directly affects how he will FEEL about it.
It’s a very special skill but totally within your reach with awareness and practice.
I often use my mountain lion metaphor when referring to this calm, cool, confident, steady energy of a man who knows he’s OK. He reserves his energy for those very few things that merit the focus of his anger. It not easy as Aristotle noted many years ago.
I know about pissy anger, I’ve been pissy and I’ve been angry before. I know what it’s like to throw a hammer across the room or to scream at somebody in traffic, or to react in defensiveness in front of a lover or partner and just just lose it…to just lose your shit. I know what it’s like to just have an outburst of anger that you didn’t see coming that you can’t control.
I want to talk about how you eliminate anger.
I’m not saying we’ll never get angry, but how do you eliminate the bad effect that it can have on you when it comes up? And how do you think about it differently? Because once you do that, becoming calm, and becoming confident becomes a whole lot more natural for you.
So here’s what somebody taught me one time. It’s kind of woowoo so I’m going to warn you right now, this gets a little woowoo…but it works.
The secret to dealing with anger is, that there’s always a thought that happens a nanosecond before you get angry.
That thought happens so quickly, you don’t even see it. But within that nanosecond of thought there’s a two hour full feature film of something that you’re imagining that’s not right. It’s a feature film where you’re imagining that you’re not OK, that you’re not good enough. A movie that plays every memory you’ve ever had of not being OK, of not being good enough, of a time when somebody shamed you or criticized you, or condescended or belittled you into believing that you weren’t good enough or that you weren’t OK.
That movie happens in a nanosecond right before your anger.
This is proof that anger is really born from thoughts, the thoughts in your head. But we don’t believe it because we don’t see the thoughts coming. We don’t see the thoughts coming because they happen so quickly.
It’s that nanosecond.
So what I want you to do is to know that that supepr fast movie playing happens. To have an awareness of that – because it’s important. If you can’t see the nanosecond movie that’s causing that feeling of anger to swell inside you, then the anger takes over. So here’s something to practice with me now – or in those moments when you feel the anger swelling.
Right now, as you’re reading this article, look around the room, breathe deeply and answer this question for me…
Are you OK?
Right this minute…this very second, are you OK?
Yes or no?
If the answer is yes…pause, take another deep breath.
Are you OK now?
You were OK three seconds ago.
Are you OK Now?
Are you still OK?
Are you going to be OK, 10 seconds from now?
Are you going to be OK, 30 seconds from now?
How about a minute?
How about 10 minutes from now?
Are you going to be OK then?
The reason you’re going to be OK 10 minutes from now is the same reason you’re OK right now.
The reason you’re going to be OK when you wake up tomorrow morning is the same reason you’re OK now too.
Because right now you don’t have any movies going through your head that you’re not OK, that you suck, that you’re going to fail at work, that you’re going to get fired, that you’re not going to have enough money, that you’re never going to be in love again, that your wife is going to leave you, that you’re never going to have sex again, or nobody’s ever going to find you attractive again.
Any of those things that we think could happen or might happen, that might define us as being unworthy, unattractive, undesirable, or just plain old, not good enough…they’re just thoughts and they play in that nanosecond before you get angry, every time.
Anger comes from feeling like you’re not good enough.
It comes from feeling that you’re not OK.
And the secret to overcoming anger and becoming calm and confident in yourself is knowing the truth.
You’re actually always OK.
You were OK two minutes ago. You were OK one minute ago when I first asked you if you’re OK.
You’re still OK, right?
I don’t mean this to be this 70s woowoo I’m OK, you’re OK thing.
This is a deep dive into the truth about your well being.
It doesn’t come from other people.
It doesn’t come from what anybody thinks about you what they say about you, how attracted they are to you, whether they stay married to you or not, none of that matters.
You have to have a spiritual level of knowing that you’re actually OK.
At this very moment.
Are you still OK?
So that’s the point.
Eliminating anger is really getting control of the idea that thoughts cause your emotions.
That nanosecond movie that happens right before you have an angry outburst. A flare up of temper, wanting to defend or argue or criticize somebody.
It comes from that thought that you’re not OK.
Because whenever you really are OK, when you’re really feeling your mojo, on those days, when you’re really feeling good, you have no cause for anger.
You have no cause to defend or criticize anybody.
Because you’re OK.
So what I want to teach you is that you can conjure, or you can build up this feeling of that you’re OK.
In those times when you’re about to outburst with anger, I want you to ask yourself, wait a minute, what just happened in my head?
What was the movie that just played that told me I’m not OK?
That’s how you’re going to do it.
That’s how you’re going to become more calm and more confident and realize that those butterflies and those jittery feelings of anger and unrest aren’t real. You made them up. You played the movie in your head all by yourself, and I want you to learn to play a different movie.
And the title of that movie is…I’m good.
Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy. ~ Aristotle
I don’t subscribe to the belief that ALL anger is bad. When channeled with FOCUS and PURPOSE and INTENTION anger can be an intense and formidable tool.
The challenge is pausing long enough to develop focus, purpose and intention.
Without focus, purpose and intention anger is just unbridled, scattered emotion. It’s almost always ineffective, self-sabotaging and “hugely” unattractive.
But with focus, purpose and intention, I believe anger morphs into a very productive passion. It’s measured, deliberate and appropriate. And as a result it no longer resembles anger in it’s original form.
The question we must always ask ourselves is, “Which man do I want to be?”
Plato said it more elegantly than I. When it comes to channeling anger you should choose wisely.
There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot. ~ Plato
Let’s make this practical.
How can you channel anger about your job, your boss and your pay into something more focused, purposeful and intention?
When it comes to any aspect of your struggling relationship, what would a measured, deliberate and appropriate response look like?
Bottom line: There is always a more productive way to channel our frustration and anger if we just pause long enough to change the nature of our response.
When you develop this muscle your life will change forever. I promise.
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