Coach Kim, would you consider a follow up article about what communication skills you are referring to in this article? And could you teach us more about what anger really is? It sounds like it isn’t what we think it is...
I have written many articles about how to have mutually validating conversations (a conversation where both parties leave feeling heard, honored and respected for their right to their perspective and ideas). Here is a link to some of them. The basics involve showing up for others and listening first, before asking them to listen to you. If you know how to do this, there are few conflicts you can’t work through.
On the subject of anger, there is more to understanding where it comes from and how to deal with it. When you (or someone else) becomes angry, you are actually having a fear problem. Though it doesn’t look like it on the outside and you won’t feel scared, as much as mad. But you are angry, because one of your two core fears have been triggered. When you are angry, it is either because you feel insulted (which means your fear of failure has been triggered) or you feel mistreated or taken from (which means your fear of loss has been triggered) or both.
All anger is based in one or both of these fears being triggered. Think about the last time you got angry with someone or at a situation. In what way did you feel threatened, mistreated or at risk? Did you feel you were made to look bad or told you were wrong or bad? Or was someone discourteous, rude or unkind to you? Anger always involves some kind of mistreatment or injustice, and these all trigger your core fears.
The interesting part is that the groundwork of fear that created a place for your anger was laid long before the offending event happened. If you didn’t already suffer from fear of failure and you weren’t already afraid you weren’t good enough, you wouldn’t feel insulted so easily. People who have rock solid self-esteem and see their intrinsic value as unchangeable, aren’t nearly as easy to offend with slights, insults or attacks. Their good self-worth makes them more bulletproof and less affected by fear triggers. You could insult them and they would probably just let it slide off.
The same goes for fear of loss. If you didn’t already feel unsafe in the world and see people as a threat, you wouldn’t be afraid of mistreatment or get defensive as easy. People, who see the universe as a wise teacher, providing perfect lessons, are more likely to see a personal growth opportunity in mistreatment. They are less often offended or angry.
When your journey brings you an anger experience, you can process the emotion (instead of reacting) and figure out what it is here for. If you choose to see life as a classroom (all about growth and becoming) then every experience is here to serve you in some way. Try some of the questions below to process your anger.
Choosing to see every anger experience as a chance to grow (instead of just mistreatment or insult), means you can turn every situation into a win. If this is hard to see because an offense is particularly painful, you may want to seek some professional help to work through it. Or make sure you read my forgiveness article from last week – it might also help.
You can do this.
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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.