My wife says I have anger issues and I admit I lose my temper more than I’d like. She says I need to work on this, but I’m not sure where to start. Is there anything I can do in the moment to calm down and stop losing my temper?
The first thing you must understand is that your anger problem is really a fear problem.
Anger happens when something (or someone) triggers your core fears. The following principles explain your two core fears and how they affect you.
Principle 1: There are only two states from which you can respond to any situation. You can respond from love (and focus on honoring, edifying and validating the other person) or you can respond from fear (and focus on what you need). Every other response or emotion fits into these two categories.
Principle 2: There are two core fears which drive most human behavior. They are the fear of failure (that you won’t be good enough) and the fear of loss (that your life won’t be good enough). The fear of failure is a fear of not being loved, valued, appreciated or wanted. The fear of loss is a fear that you won’t have what you need, want or deserve.
Principle 3: When you experience fear you automatically cast the other person as the bad guy and yourself as the good guy. In order to do this, you will conveniently leave out the good in the other person and the bad in you.
When you experience anger it is usually because you feel ripped off, short changed, unloved, dishonored or mistreated in some way. Take a minute and think about the last time you were angry.
Was it a fear of loss issue or a fear of not being loved, wanted, honored or appreciated issue?
Anger management starts with figuring out what you are afraid of and learning to manage your fear by choosing trust and love (the opposites of fear).
It is also going to mean choosing to see the other person accurately, someone like you, (a work in progress doing the best they can with what they know) and ditching the need to cast them as the bad guy.
Here is a procedure (set of steps) for gaining clarity, seeing the situation accurately and calming yourself:
1) Step back and ask yourself — What am I afraid of here? What am I seeing as a threat to me? Why am I afraid of this? Which core fear is this about?
(Remember that no person or situation can diminish you. Your value is infinite and absolute and whatever happens, this situation is in your life to teach you something.)
2) Figure out why part of you wants to be angry? What is being angry about this giving you? What is it costing you?
3) What is this situation showing you about yourself? How is it giving you a chance to be more loving, wise and mature? What is it here to teach you?
(This situation is in your life to serve your process of growing and learning. When you figure out the lesson, you may see the situation differently and calm down.)
4) Step back and make sure you are seeing the other person (if there is another person involved) accurately. What are they afraid of? Which core fear is driving their behavior?
(All bad behavior is about THEIR fear about themselves. It is not really about you. This means all bad behavior is a request for love and validation.)
5) Choose to see this person as you see yourself. Try to see them the way God would see them. You have the same value and you are both scared, struggling, divine, amazing beings in the classroom of life. Neither is perfect nor all bad. You are the same.
6) Let go of your fear by choosing to trust God and life. Trust that your value isn’t on the line and that your life is the perfect classroom journey for you.
7) Let go of fear by choosing love. How could you choose to be loving towards this person you are angry with?
(This doesn’t mean you trust them or let them hurt you again. It may just mean sending love and forgiveness their way, from afar. Or it could mean giving them the validation they need to quiet their fear.)
8) The only moment in which you have any power is this one. This is the place where you get to decide who you want to be and how you want to live. There are only two choices — love or fear.
How can you claim that power and choose to experience this moment in love? What response would be the most productive and loving one in this moment?
Keep this procedure on hand and run through it when you get angry. After you have done it a few times, you will have it in your head.
If anger continues to be a problem, I highly recommend you get some professional help to change your thinking and eliminate your fears.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of ldslifecoaching.com and claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.