What is anger?
Allow me to answer a submitted question to help answer this question and how to overcome it.
Podcast version: HERE
"I need help with discipline. How do I stay calm and not get angry?
I've been trying now for a while to become a more disciplined person.
I am a person who has never been super disciplined, and it is kind of that I need some fuel to start doing something seriously or maybe try not to fall into this old habit.
For example, I've been trying to improve my anger. Still, I always find myself coming back to a point where I was before, like if I was not trying at all, or even maybe when I do my little exercise of thinking about what I've done in the day, I realize that moments of anger that I had I didn't even think of any quote or try to calm my anger.
Therefore, I would like to know how I could be a more disciplined person to be a better person."
My Response if we were in a coaching setting. Although without being able to ask questions I may assume or use scenarios to fill in the gaps.
First, it's clear to me you sincerely want to change, and it's important to you. Awareness and seeing that it's important to change is the first step, and you're ready for the next step.
What is anger?
A negative emotion, right?
Where do all feelings come from?
Every single emotion? Good or bad?
They come from thoughts, nowhere else. This must be understood and felt in your bones, your marrow. If there's any resistance or but's about it, then this is where your journey to change will halt until you do accept it.
It's assumed that negative emotions come from external sources but that's simply not true. We are taught this at a young age, I personally believe it's due to the consumer culture. Think about it, we are fed stories that Santa Clause is real and will make us happy. A teddy bear or blanket will inject feelings of safety, security, and joy.
An example wasn't provided in the submission, so if we think of a situation like driving, a car is driving super close behind you in traffic, and from your vantage point, your perspective, your opinion, your judgment, your rules in your mind, they are WRONG. If you believe they can inject feelings into you of anger, rage, upset, frustration, make your furious, what does that mean?
You're a slave to external stimuli. You're giving your power away.
Because if you believe that driver can inject feelings into you, you also believe that someone that cuts in line at the grocery store can also inject feelings into you. Your feelings are based on your thoughts, nowhere else.
Show up in life the way you want, instead of letting it control your experience. This is empowering and taking ownership of your happiness.
Believe it or not there is time and space between a thought, feeling and behavior. Each step. With greater awareness, and a slowed down mind you'll realize this and no longer will you be hijacked or a give your power, vital mental and emotional energy away to things external.
A busy mind, a sped-up mind results in being a victim of thoughts NOT THE PERSON, WORDS, OR A SITUATION. Our thoughts, how we create meaning from the external things that are happening.
"Choose not to be harmed, and you won't feel harmed. Don't feel harmed, and you haven't been." — Marcus Aurelius.
Anger, at some point, offered some protection for you. A habit, a neural pathway in your brain to your left brain, serves you in some way. It worked once, twice, and several times. Your brain is designed to pull you towards what feels familiar and good. So sometime in your past, this kept you safe.
Mental fitness involves developing a strong relationship with oneself and life, enabling the ability to handle life's challenges without being overwhelmed by external factors.
(to learn and understand more about left brain, right brain I have a mental fitness class offered a couple of times a year; check it out HERE)
What will rewire or change this mental habit or neural pathway is to practice, literally putting yourself in places that have a tendency to anger you. Start with small angers. Traffic is always a great place to practice, in my opinion. Lean into the feeling. Thank the alert, the negative emotion. Simple that's all a negative emotion is an alert signal. Nothing more. If you fear it, avoid it, suppress it, get frustrated with it, these all keep that neuropathway strong, in fact it strengthens it. Leaning in means being curious, being open to discovering how its served you and how it can be shifted to a new more empowering emotion. Leaning in, means thanking the message, taking a deep breath, and accepting that it served you in the past, however, you want to think, feel and behave differently from now on. So this question poses what you currently feel, HOW DO YOU WANT TO FEEL?
Perhaps the answer is (must be 10 powerful positive emotions, because the strongest emotion always wins and a negative emotion has 3x the punch of a positive): safe, proud, in control, strong, brave, curious, willing, open, eager, happy, at peace, calm…
What action follows these words and the energy they offer? With the traffic scenario, it might be tuning out the car behind you, moving into a different lane, and focusing on the music playing in your car. Maybe it's observing the vehicles in front of you and memorizing the license plate numbers or states. Maybe it's super curious about where everyone's from and going. Perhaps it's going into your body and feeling your toes, your calves, your butt in the seat… all these are ways to activate your right brain due to becoming more focused on one or more of your five senses. I find looking through the lens of gratitude and appreciation for something in that moment helps shift from left brain survival brain to right brain where emotional freedom is. These are examples of mental exercises, training your brain to be present in the moment vs being lost in thoughts, rumination, anger, frustration etc.
Quotes, however very lovely, the offer sparks of wisdom they are never within reach when we are in the throws of life. They will undoubtedly be hard to access from any negative emotional state. When coming from a negative emotion, we can't access wisdom, clarity, insights or inner knowing. It's often a heavy feeling that's dark and tunnel vision. So trying to access a quote, or affirmation from a negative state isn't possible. Have you ever lost your car keys prior to being late for an important meeting? I have, and I check the same places 1-2-3-4-5 times. When in a panic, or a negative emotion, I can factually say I don't think clearly.
So the next step after awareness, slowing down, is going inside yourself, accessing your empathy, compassion, and curiosity. When practicing this on more minor situations, you're gathering proof that it works, reassuring your nervous system and brain this is ok; this is familiar and feels good when you've chosen to take a peaceful approach over the angry approach. In time it will become a natural way of navigating situations and circumstances that used to trigger you.
Hope this helps. Please share this with anyone you believe would benefit from the insights. Post a comment below, I read and reply to them all. Thank you in advance!