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Taming Anger: A Practical Guide

How does anger affects us?

Lot's of people struggle with anger either themselves or have to deal with others who do.

This affects their work, relationships and general day to day mood.

We want to give some actionable advice to remove unnecessary rage from your lives.

You’ve had a long arduous journey to the airport. At many points you thought you would never arrive. Thanks to ample train delays, ambiguous foreign signage and your pulsating hangover.

You finally arrive at the haven of the airport ready to check-in. You've been dreaming of an overpriced, over-salty and dry bit of airport munch, the dryer the better. It will give you more of a break from the facemask.

After a considerable queue, you get to the check-in desk to be told that your ticket exist. It transpires that because you missed the outbound leg of the flight your ticket is now invalid. If you want to get home today your only option is to book another ticket. ‘Don’t worry though sir, it's only £400’ . Ironically, this the total amount you budgeted for spending money while away.

What do you feel?

Anger, confusion, blame, and regret? Or do you get off on the fact that happened to someone else and not you… sicko!

Well, this exact situation happened to me last week (at the time of writing). I was on my way back from Snowbombing festival and ready for bed.

I wrote the above in a tone to show how one could choose to feel about the experience. Actually I went through the experience almost entirely in a state of equanimity.

I even asked myself, when I was safely on the plane, whether I was dead inside. Incapable of rage or feeling anything at all.

Personally, I used to be very quick to anger or outrage, especially when I was hungry. Many of my closest friends will testify, which made me reflect on how I've improved my mindset. If in fact I haveied and I am not a character in Flight Simulator v3000042.

So how did this play out…

When I was initially hit with the news that my flight was invalid my heart of course sunk, I then did all I could to reason with the guy behind the desk:

‘Really…..? Please check again?’

‘There must be another way’

‘Is there anyone else I can speak to?’

‘There is absolutely nothing you can do for me?’

'No "Good Guy discount" you can offer?'

‘There’s no sneaky cheap flight that can offered to me based on how bloody polite I have just been?’

In doing so I could comfortably say I did everything in my control in the moment. Everything else is was of my control.

So why would I rationally concern myself with that which is outside of my control?

I could have been rude or shouted at the airport guy. I could've stayed angry at the injustice fantasising about an alternative reality where I was spared the extra expense.

Those almost default human reactions wouldn’t have made me feel any better though. They would have just been a reflection of my emotions happening to me, my lizard brain taking me for a stroll, rather than me being in control.

As we have said before in our blogs, nothing is good or bad until we think it so.

How we feel about something is a choice, an option in the moment.

Is it good for you to choose anger?

I’d argue it doesn’t benefit you, and it especially doesn’t benefit others.

When returning to baseline, any anger reflected outward will come with anxiety and regret. You'll feel you’ve let yourself down and damaged the image others have of you.

Listening to Derren Brown’s book ‘Happy’ a quote I fell in love with was ‘Anger is just proof of how unrealistic your expectations were’

If you expect perfection and a smooth ride you are setting yourself up for failure. By lowering your expectations of the world, you can only be pleasantly surprised.

Was it unrealistic for me to expect there to be no hiccups? A journey from Austria to Madrid involving 1000s of complex logistical components. All needing to work in conjunction to allow me to transport myself across the continent.

I think it probably was.

Out of 100s of times I have used public transport, this is the first time this has happened. What amazing luck that I got away with it until now!

To put it into perspective watch this video to see how many people AJ Jacobs was able to thank for his simple cup of coffee.

It could have been much worse, what if I couldn’t get home at all… fuck that would have been bad.

So as I said earlier, I was, but for a few heart palpitations, unaffected by the above.

This isn’t because £400 is peanuts to me (far from it). Or because I am soulless (I hope) or because I am so laid back I simply just let life happen to me and don’t give a shit.

It's because I was able to think rationally in the moment. This allowed me to tap into the type of person I desire and choose to be and then act and feel accordingly.

Which actually made me feel good about the situation afterwards. I was pleased with my own self-development.

It's something I have been working on for many years. How do you act rationally when you are in a state of irrationality? It is probably as paradoxical as it sounds.

For those who are prone to anger, inward and directed at yourself is just the same. I’d encourage you to start asking yourselves ‘how does it serve me? Is it helpful for me and my relationships?’

If it isn’t serving you, we are in agreement.

Apart from sports and competitive environments it's more harmful than it is helpful.

How to deal with anger

When you next feel the blanket of red rage wash over you start using some of these tactics and let us know how you get on

  • Recognise you have the choice how you feel about something
  • Ask yourself if your anger is helpful to you
  • Lower your expectations and remember we live in an imperfect world, there’s beauty in that
  • Explore in your mind how much worse it could have been
  • Is there any upside or silver lining you can extract
  • Breath
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously
  • Walk away
  • Smile

In my opinion anger is like drinking poison and hoping someone else dies. Interested to hear other people's opinion though!

I will close on a lyric from the Bristol band Idles 

‘Not a single thing has ever been mended

By you standin' there and saying you're offended

Go ahead, tell them what I've intended

I'll say what I mean, do what I love, and fucking send it’

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