There are two main ways to exercise oversight over anger. Express or Repress. Both good and bad governance exists. As with governance, there are good and bad forms of expression and good and bad forms of repression.
A google search on ‘how to constructively use anger’ produces “About 12,700,000 results (0.48 seconds)”. Most of them tell us to breathe, calm down, think before acting, etc., etc. Of course, these are all crucially valid for anger within the moment.
What about the anger we carry around within us for weeks, years, decades – anger that may be showing up in another form such as depression, anxiety, headaches? One day, something triggers you and only then do you realize you are carrying anger.
If you are fortunate enough to come face-to-face with your own previously repressed anger and recognize it as such, then you can do something about it.
Embrace it. Say thank you, anger, for visiting. Ask anger what insight it has come to give you. Next, follow the advice of those 12 million articles i.e. don’t do anything rash or regrettable. Then, dump onto a page all the reasons you are angry. Do not judge. Do not edit. Do not correct spelling or caps. Go back to when you were three years old. Let the reasons flow out of you. Whatever pops into mind. Write EVERYTHING down.
Let’s say you end, for now, with a list of 38 things. Great. Quickly go through each item on the list and evaluate if it is something that can be changed. If it can, write beside it – ACTION.
Do it quickly, so you don’t overthink it. At this stage you do not need to know the how.
Next, quickly go through the list again and see what pattern is emerging. For example, are some of the actions related to you doing something for yourself;
Continue to see patterns and put an A, B, C or D against each one, for example,
A: Me. What I have control over
B: My Industry. What I can have influence over
C: The World. What I can have influence over
D: My family. Accept
Notice that most things have three possibilities of action/non-action i.e. Control, Influence, Accept.
Sum up the total number of A, B, C, D, and calculate the percentage of the totals. For example, 61% of actions are within your own control. 26% you may be able to influence. Perhaps, you categorized 13% in the accept bucket.
When you feel angry and frustrated, what can you do with this fiery energy? How can you put it to good use? You may be angry because the situation means a great deal to you. Anger can be a way for you to discern what matters a lot to you. Anger is triggered by different things for different people. It may even support you to identify your top values. What is the thing you get most angry about – what is behind that? Which of your values is triggering that strong emotion in you? If you are searching for your purpose, your anger may show it to you. Your anger may show, to you, what you are passionate about.
Do this exercise and your anger may prompt you to take action in a healthily constructive way that benefits you and others.
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