I have a short fuse. Always have had. Perhaps it’s my upbringing. Perhaps it’s my German heritage. Perhaps I just have a giant bug up my bum. Who knows!
What I have learned recently is that it is a completely useless emotion. All it does is make me hot and bothered and ruin a perfectly good day … well not a perfectly good day … a mediocre day covered in baby spu and negotiating with a mini terrorist to “put the permanant marker down!” as he jumps up and down on his bed. But in a nutshell, I don’t like anger.
But really, what purpose does anger serve? It’s not a survival emotion like fear that helps you run away from a woolly mammoth that’s chasing you. It’s not a perfectly justifiable emotion like sadness or chocolate cravings to get you through tough times. And it certainly doesn’t magically change the behaviour of the idiot you are angry at. See, it’s useless!
- Firstly you need to be able to recognise the anger, easy right? Nah, when you’re a real hot head like me and anger takes over your brain all you can see is the poor fool standing in front of you that triggered it. So instead start to recognise the physical signs – like, feeling hot under the coller, clenching your fists, shoulder tension, teeth gritting, raising your voice (this is a big red flag for me – I get really high pitched and escalate like a kookaburra);
- Then, pause, stop and say this to yourself “hang on a cotton picking second, this looks like anger to me … is anger going to help me … does this anger serve me … you do realise that this anger will pass soon”.
- This pause will give you a moment to evaluate, because anger can try to tell you a lot of lies – like, “Big Buddy deliberately left spilled chocolate milk in the fridge expecting fairies to clean it up and then blamed it on the kids just to antagonise me … I WANT A DIVORCE”). Ask yourself, is what your brain telling you true, is it compassionate or kind, is it wise, does it help me in any way? Most of the time the answers to those questions will be no.
- Breathe. Take a couple of deep breaths. If you can without looking like an idiot, in through the nose, and out through pursed lips.
- Finally, allow yourself to let it go. Most of the time we jump to anger in an ill-informed attempt at self defense despite there being no real danger. Allow yourself to let go of whatever expectation or assumption or standard you have hooked yourself onto and which is driving the anger – like for me “Big Buddy seriously takes me for granted and expects me to be his cleaning lady even though I do every other blinking thing for this family – WELL NO MORE DAMN IT!”. There are so many lies and assumptions in this statement my brain throws at me. Once I recognise that, it is so easy to let it go.
Then, and only then, try to engage in a conversation with said idiot. If the anger is still bubbling under the surface do what I tell my toddler to do … walk away … for your own sake.