Time and again, as a consulting healthcare speaker, someone will unburden their heart to me concerning their problematic anger. From these discussions it’s clear that they consider anger to be somehow intrinsically negative. Sadly if you believe anger to be in some way “bad,” it’s improbable you’ll ever figure out how to deal with it in a productive way. This essential point is crucial to augmenting your overall emotional intelligence.
Anger can be, on occasions, an entirely appropriate response . It’s a power driving personal and organizational change. Anger can empower you to take the (often difficult) action vital to establish long-term change. So, first off, the initial reframe I want to suggest is that you don’t have difficulties with anger, you have a problem with mismanaged anger.
The next aspect to grasp is that anger can be aimed internally as well as externally. This “internal” rage can negatively affect your health. There is ample research to suggest that unsuccessfully controlled anger has detrimental biological consequences to the heart and lungs
It’s also very important that you appreciate anger management from a dual biological-psychological perspective. As an author and healthcare speaker, it’s clear that , for the most part, individuals don’t take this dual approach. (Even healthcare experts, such as doctors, nurses and cognitive therapists, sometimes don’t understand this vital distinction. Which is why, in my role as a wellness motivational speaker, I focus on this important issue.)
The Biology Of Anger
As you endeavor to handle your fury, it’s fundamental to be aware that it’s driven by a deeply ingrained neurological circuit that’s far more vigorous than most folks assume. A hardwired structure that arose to safeguard our forebears in a significantly more perilous setting.
A central element of your emotional brain is named the amygdala. It’s a vital element of your brain’s early-warning system. Every category of perceived risk (physically dangerous or otherwise) can activate this structure. Once stimulated it generates an array of biological responses. (Each and every one of the “symptoms” of fury such as a rapid heartbeat, tension in the neck, facial flushing and a knot in the stomach.) What’s more, this entire mechanism operates at an unconscious level. (FYI: This neural pathway, vital to your comprehension of anger, was established by Professor Joseph LeDoux.)
The Psychology Of Anger
Now you’ve appreciated the power of your emotion pathways, let’s focus on the (equally important) psychological aspects of anger management. Psychological research has revealed that our self-talk is full of negative stories. (When I discuss these stories in my healthcare speeches, it’s clear that audience members relate to them.)
One kind of story (described in detail by cognitive therapist Albert Ellis) we tell ourselves is bursting with absolute words like “never or completely or I can’t”. Examples of this kind of story include: “You can’t do that is this establishment.” And: “She’s always carping.” Or: “We have totally failed.” These tales produce a “black and white” standpoint that leaves you lacking any choices. Without a doubt “It’s a total disaster,” doesn’t leave you with much “wiggle room”.
A Healthcare Speaker’s Combined Approach
Here is the anger management strategy I explain in each and every one my healthcare speeches; a combined biological-psychological approach. The drawback with trying to deal with your rage using a strictly biological approach is that the unhelpful story you’re inventing will re-trigger the amygdala. That said, trying to reevaluate an upsetting story is difficult if you haven’t properly dealt with the biological element of your anger response.
The ideal way to get the biological component of your anger under control is to regularly practice some type of relaxation technique. Individually, I’ve found out that meditation is most effectual. On a regular basis taking nine minutes (yep, it doesn’t take long) has worked wonders. When life gets a little too tense, it has enabled me to “observe” my upsetting thoughts and feelings pass by without getting “hooked” by them.
Re: the unhelpful stories. Merely acknowledging that you’re being upset by a story you’re telling yourself can be very successful. In addition, you can argue (with yourself) against your negative narrative. Case in point, if you’re stuck in a downhill spiral of “what if” questions, think precise percentages and likelihoods. Sure, it’s vaguely possible you’ll get made redundant but what’s the genuine probability (without the emotional aspects)? Or, if your self-talk contains plenty of imprecise absolute words like “total,” “completely” and “never,” swap them with relative words like “occasionally”.
Bottom line: Whatever anger management tools you choose to adopt (and healthcare speakers have a ton of them) always take a combined biological-psychological approach. This is the critical clue to boosting your EI, including coping with your rage.