Being Masterfully Angry- whats that?
This energy helps protect us.
It gets us justice.
It supports us in going after what we want
Yet we demonise it!
Here are three elements to reflect and change about our anger:
Our triggers + our reactions + our expressions.
- Triggers are when we feel threatened, powerless, treated unfairly and disrespected.
- Our reactions are both in mind and body. The body feels a surge of energy, galvanising to take care of us. Our mind may say ‘I don’t like this’, ‘ ‘how dare they’. We exaggerate others’ behaviours and label them. We say ‘they won’t understand’.
- Our behaviours are fight, flight or freeze.
Here is what we can do instead :
- Become aware of triggers so we do not react.
- Listen to inner chatter in our mind and ask ‘Is it absolute truth?’
- Breathe and take ourselves to ‘calm’ first.
You may find this TED talk on anger interesting:
Ruchi, a senior leader of 20 years worked in a team of senior experienced peers. She shared that her leader often ended up losing his cool. He got provoked by a comment and then used judgemental language in front of her peers. At times he would lose his temper in front of her team. She felt small and talked down to. In her words ‘’It felt like I was in grade school being shouted at’’.
She had been working with him for 3 years. His angry outbursts had affected her self confidence. She began second guessing herself and walked on egg shells in her attempt to keep things from flaring up. She said ‘’I have lost face in front of my team. I wonder what they think of me now after seeing me so powerless’’.
Coaching her meant addressing many parts of anger as an emotion:
- Unpacking what triggered him; and could she work with lowering those triggers?
- Reexamining her story of smallness and her fear of giving him feedback. We looked at getting over her fear of doing that.
- Challenge her beliefs on the many ways to express anger.
- Skilling her to learn calm in a storm.
- Seeing his anger as a toxicity that belongs to him. Let her not take the burden of it as it was evident he had outbursts with other people too.
- Upskill her to find the language to confidently say what she needed to say.
- Learning on Boundaries.
- Provide herself the permission to move out of that team instead of struggling.
- Standing in her strengths and appreciating who she is as a leader.
Ruchi had a few tough conversations calmly. Clearly the leader did not like it too much. Within 6 months she also moved on to another organisation and to a role that fit her ambition.
I had my own learning around anger and finding a voice. Here are 10 of my learnings that helped me be constructive:
- My anger is by me, from me and in me. Others don’t ‘make me feel it’.
- Beneath my anger is often fear, sadness, shame, embarrassment, hurt and worry.
- I get angry when someone points out something about me because an element of it is true and it is in me.
- Knowing my triggers helps me- mine are disrespect and blame.
- My anger in the now,. at times, has a backstory in the past. This person or situation reminds me of something old. I need to resolve and grow up from the past.
- I am capable of pressing the ‘pause button’ and taking a deep breath. This creates a gap to think.
- I can build skills and language to say what I want to. It is possible.
- Anger and respect can go together.
- I can walk away from chronically angry people – I do not have to change the world!
- I am more than my anger. I am beautiful, valuable, worthy and powerful.
Do you have other learnings around anger? Please feel free to add to this list.