Think of all the people, situations, events that make us really angry! It’s easy to find these anchors and blame them for our anger, but research shows that the real cause of our anger is often not the person, event or situation but how we THINK about these things. The way we think about these things is often subtle and deep-rooted, and not the first thing we point to as the real cause or source of our anger. In truth, our own thinking about people, events and situations is the source and cause! (fancy word: cognitive distortion). This is how it works.
Someone really upsets me because he/she insulted, criticised, disagreed, rejected or did not love me (or all of the above!). Consequently I see this person as my ‘enemy’ and I now resort to counter hurtful measures – overt or tacit. My actions now lead to polarisation in the relationship and even a state of interpersonal warfare. In reality it’s my own thinking patterns – the internal voices that I hear or often don’t even hear – that create the emotional reaction.
This internal thinking causes me to feel inappropriately angry or morally superior because my value system or my self-esteem is wounded. Since self-esteem is essentially my own thinking about my own worth – it can only go down if I put myself down. No one else can do it for me! I do it to myself, and put blame on someone else.
To control this anger, I need to figure out my own thinking first, listen and understand the ‘voices’ in my head that shape my emotions and reactions, and then start re-programming or disabling the impact of these voices or thinking. Sounds a bit easier to say than to do it by oneself. Here’s where working with a trained partner can help you.
(We’d be happy to work with you as your coach /coaching supervisor – for a couple of pro bono sessions – to help you break out of this cycle! Connect with us on firstname.lastname@example.org)
Check out details of our ICF accredited 125 hour ACTP Executive Coach training program being held in October and December in Bangalore, on this website’s ACTP/ACSTH page. Why not use this as an opportunity to visit India / Bangalore?
Reference: Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy – Dr. David D. Burns, HarperCollins e-books