Deflecting Anger

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It is almost impossible to remain unphased and unaffected by a constant diet of stressful problems, dilemmas and negative experiences in your life. There are certain side-effects associated with the frequency of these events, and the most common side-effect comes in the form of built up anger.

There are two types of anger worthy of speaking about. The first is the type that results in loud, obnoxious, rage like responses and reactions, and the other is more subdued – a type of hurt brought on by life itself and its accompanying struggles and disappointments. While this type may be internalized and festering like a cancer, both can result in a pervasive dissatisfaction for the status and quality of ones life and frequently turns into depression.

Although anger serves a purpose and has been labeled as “bad”, it doesn’t have to be — instead it can be a powerful motivator toward constructive action. First and foremost, the best way to deal with the anger, is to address the source of the anger, however, in the heat of the moment, it is more important to deal with your reaction and response to the anger. I am talking about the outbursts, yelling, cursing, crying, threatening, intimidating, controlling, shutting down, or whatever your learned response to anger is.

One of the best ways to keep negative responses and reactions to anger at bay is to ask what I call “anger deflecting questions“. These are questions that you consciously ask yourself immediately after you sense the oncoming tension, and before overly reacting to the stimulus. By employing these questions, you deflect or change the course of oncoming anger and you begin to take back control, while teaching your brain a new and more appropriate response to anger.

Anger Deflecting Questions

1. What if I’m wrong? 

During moments of anger, people react so fast that they don’t properly evaluate or rationalize the facts. We always hear about acts of violence that happen as a result of mistaken identity, or police that may shoot someone who had a cell phone in their hand, but it was mistaken for a weapon, or someone noticing their significant other texting or using social media and making the assumption its an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend when it fact it could be a relative. Asking the simple question “what if I’m wrong” [about my assumption or interpretation of events] diverts your attention into different areas, and allows you to be more subjective and open-minded before rushing to judgment.

2. What else could this mean?

When someone says or does something that provokes you, or when a particular circumstance arises that would provoke you to anger, the brain almost immediately within milliseconds forms a conclusion, an assumption, an interpretation of what just took place and applies a meaning to it. The meaning you give it will be the spark which activates your reaction and response. By asking “what ELSE could this mean”, the brain will then go on a creative search to form different conclusions about the situation, thus providing you with new possibilities and options. If nothing else, this strategy can yield significant results, at least enough to help you keep your cool and manage your state.

3. How else can I respond?

Bad or sad things will happen, and mean or cruel things will be said, and unfortunate outcomes do take place. In those cases, depending on the set of circumstances that causes the anger, you may not be able to give new meaning to what happened. For example, if a thief breaks in your house and steals your possessions, asking “what else could this mean” may not help at all. Asking instead, “how else can I respond” focuses your attention away from the specifics of the issue and squarely on your reaction and response to it. You do have a choice in your response. This is vitally important since your reaction to the event will be the bedrock that determines it’s emotional impact, as well as the associated memory that will be forever attached to the event.

You are in control, you do have options and the choice is yours to manage your anger, or to let anger manage you. For more on this subject, see my blog article titled, “Put A Spin On It”.

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Brian Tucker

About the Author:

Many of the best Life Coaches began their quest out of a deep desire to help others. Not me. I never wanted to help anyone, but me! I had my own issues, insecurities, and unsettling feelings of living well beneath my potential and capability. I sought out Life Coaching as the answer to my own personal limitations and went on a search for the best and finest teachers I could find. Once found, I began to surgically change every adverse characteristic, thought process and behavior I could identify. It was a total self-renovation, impacting my sense of optimism, energy, income and overall results. It was after seeing such improvement and positive change in my life that I pursued coaching as a profession to aid and assist others. In essence, I became my own first client and since that time have helped hundreds of others experience the same sense of newness and self progression. I am a Certified Life Coach, Hypnosis Practitioner, and Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP, and owner of Begin Again Life Coaching in Chicago, Illinois, USA.