Anger is an emotional response. It is probably the most vilified emotional response on the planet. Because it has been so vilified, people are desperate to know what to do about their anger and they are especially desperate to know how to not be angry anymore. The good news is that there is a hack you can use with anger and once you use it, you will no longer feel powerless to your anger itself.
Before I give you this hack, I will say that if you want to understand anger in depth, you can watch my video titled: How To Deal With Anger. I want you to remember the following statement. I want you to engrain it into your mind. Anger is about unworkability. If you feel anger, it means that you perceive something to be unworkable. When something is unworkable, it implies that you are powerless to it staying the way it is. And if there is anger present, you really need that particular something to change or else it is a “lifetime sentence of pain”. So think of it like this, if you perceive something to be causing you pain or threatening to cause you pain on an emotional, mental or physical level, you need to change the situation so you can feel good again. If you believed that could happen and knew how to do it, you would feel empowered and so, you wouldn’t get angry. But if you perceive whatever is causing you that pain or posing that threat to be unworkable, you feel immediately powerless.
I’ll give you some examples of how the perception of unworkability is what anger is about. A woman gets angry because her husband’s socks are on the floor, which is a chronic pattern of his, despite the fact that she has asked him not to do it. What really hurts her about it is that it makes her feel like he does not care about her. Maybe what she feels is unworkable is ‘getting her husband to consider her’. A working mother gets angry because she feels judged both ways, other mothers judge her for working when she has a child to prioritize and colleagues judge her for having a child when her priority should be work. What really hurts her about the situation is that it makes her feel like she’s never good enough. She’s afraid that her child will see her this way when he or she grows up. Maybe what she feels is unworkable is other peoples’ extreme and impossible standards… Her inability to change anyone’s mind about what she should do. A man gets angry at a friend of his when his friend gets into a specific college and he does not. What hurts him about the situation is that he feels inferior to his friend. It feels unfair that his friend had more support for getting in than he did and so, the odds were stacked for his friend and against him. Maybe what he feels is unworkable is getting support.
Your anger then comes in to try to rescue you from that powerlessness. In this way, your anger is a protector. It exists as a last-ditch effort to try to restore some semblance of empowerment within you. If you think of un-workability like a wall that is up in front of someone’s face and is solid, anger is similar to a grenade that looks to try to destroy the solid, unchanging nature of that wall.
If you listened closely, you would see that everything I just said suddenly makes the behavior of toddlers make more sense. Their anger is about not being able to bring about the things they want and need in order to feel good. Their anger is about a lack of empowerment. They are at an age of autonomy where they need to be able to develop their own desires and also experience the process of being able to bring their desires to fruition. Kids turn into angry kids because they feel zero empowerment to turn their lives into what they need their lives to be in order to feel good and so they are trapped in pain. Adults are the same. So many adults have simply grown up having been conditioned to believe that they have no capacity to make whatever situation they feel angry about change so that it feels good. They are disempowered relative to whatever area of their life they feel angry about.
When children experience pain or threat, their empowerment needs to be enabled by the adults in their life. But this does not usually happen. Usually, the adults in their life re-enforce their dis-empowerment. For example, a child really wants a bike, but their parents don’t have enough money. Instead of helping a child to brainstorm and take actions that may empower the child to be able to get that bike, they usually say something like “You can’t have the bike, we don’t have enough money”. If a child is in pain about something the adult is doing when they are together, instead of sitting down to help him or her to voice what is upsetting and come up with an alternative way of interacting, the parent will say “suck it up”. Parents reinforce the idea that the environment belongs to them, not the child. Therefore, the environment that the child is in, is unworkable. As a result, they grow up to believe that they are genuinely powerless. A person who struggles with chronic anger, is a person who learned that things were unworkable, even if things are workable.
Your anger always reveals what in life you feel dis-empowered about. But because anger is such an unconscious process, people almost never directly name and work with whatever feels unworkable so as to empower themselves more relative to whatever feels unworkable.
Whenever you are angry, use the anger as an alarm bell, alerting you to the fact that in whatever situation you are angry about, you feel there is something that is unworkable. Ask yourself this question: What in this situation do I feel is totally unworkable? Name it directly.
From there, all your energy should go towards consciously figuring out what to do about that perception of unworkability specifically. First of all, is it really unworkable? Maybe you can tell whoever is involved in the situation what you feel is totally unworkable so that you draw their attention to it so that they can problem solve that unworkability with you. What could I try to do so that the situation that feels unworkable is workable instead? Only if it is truly unworkable… you can ask yourself: if I accepted that unworkability, instead of simply accepting that my life will be pain, what would I do instead?
We have the tendency to make our anger about empowerment in the surface changes, when it is really about something deeper. For example, If the woman who is angry about her husband’s socks sees that the unworkability is about feeling like her husband cares about her and considers her, she is not going to pour her energy into how to get him to pick his socks up off of the floor. She is going to address the area of disempowerment in her life, which is feeling cared about and considered. Therefore, restoring workability to that area of her life may include things like communicating this to her husband, attending relationship counseling which may make the relationship better or make her aware that she is not in the right relationship, doing shadow work with her root wounds around not feeling loved in childhood, committing to the mastery of relationships and seeking out people to teach her about that, spending time around people who consider her in what they do etc.
When you are able to identify the true perception of unworkability underneath your anger, your anger will dissipate. It will dissipate because it is no longer trying to rescue you from that threat because you have consciously chosen to be empowered by going directly towards it instead. You will instead drop down into the way that unworkability makes you feel such as pain, sadness or fear. You are staring at the resistance directly. And doing so puts you squarely in the empowered seat of strategy. If you are looking directly at the unworkability, suddenly you can begin to see what strategies will and wont work for creating workability in it. It will cause you to do totally different things to resolve the situation than you would have done originally. You may even see how the things that anger may cause you to do to create workability, like raising your voice or getting violent or walking out the door is the wrong strategy and might instead make what is already unworkable, even more unworkable.
You did not come here to put up with things the way they are. You are meant to be empowered. Anger directly reveals those areas where empowerment needs to come back into your life, as long as you are willing to see the unworkability that your anger is trying to call your attention to directly, so as to strategize how to make it workable instead. In other words, your empowerment is about facing your disempowerment. Finding workability is about calling out what doesn’t seem workable and doing so, renders anger… obsolete.