I’m going to deal with rage in this one. My angle isn’t going to be the typical one. More about the control of our negative emotions so they can be allowed to enhance and be the catalyst versus a detractor. With rage and anger so relevant in this age of instant access, self-awareness and our ability to pause before reacting is a skill forgotten or dormant. We’ve forgotten how to use our inner voices. We get switched on to playing defense so easily. When you go into a defensive posture, you’re really no longer effective in rationally thinking through your next choices. Our reptilian brains flip to fight or flight, mostly fight.
Our inner drill sergeant is so good at their job. Passing harsh judgements at others. Yelling at us. Making us doubt our actions and work. Making us feel unworthy and weak. We need to understand we can unhook from this thinking. I found I had to have a better relationship with myself to really get there.
Our brain is incredibly agile in creating distorted stories based on the input it receives. I cannot tell you how many times with my wife or team at work I’ve gotten triggered by something it distorted and did some unintended damage. Before I knew it, I wasn’t seeking to understand with positive intent anymore, I was trying to survive and finding myself in a defensive posture. You cannot truly listen to learn when you’re in a defensive posture. You’re looking to respond and push back.
Our brains really can manufacture some inaccurate stories. They literally happen everyday. I found myself looking at a group of peers I was excluded from being a part of and I couldn’t help my brain from thinking I didn’t belong or even be worthy enough to be with them because none of them approached me to hang. They must not like me. They’re probably talking about how awful I am as a peer. Of course this is just nuts, because nothing could be further from the truth. I just needed to get off my butt, be assertive, and come to the table with some value they’d like to be included. The effort was all on me. I let my reptilian brain take control. We rarely see things the way they really are. Keep that in mind when rage flares up or you getting upset.
These dubious, inaccurate stories leave us conflicted or waste our time. – Susan David
Don’t fake optimism, deal with the rage or disappointment. There are several researchers that have discovered forced optimism teaches you nothing about dealing with the problem at hand. It will come back. And, like a diet we thought was helping our poor eating habits, it comes back three fold worse with potential to do more damage. Don’t suppress those negative thoughts or emotions, get them out there and deal with them. Put it down on paper, do some deep diving to get to the truth of it or the why. You’ll start to recognize them with this practice so when they surface in the future, you’re much more effective in dealing with them positively.
That monster growing in you, the boiling rage and anger, befriend it. Self-compassion cannot be possible without recognizing and listening to your emotions. When those really big moments (like something super negative in your life that leaves you destroyed) by practicing self-compassion, you will be more prepared to work through it. 2012, there was a study produced by David Sharrah around divorces. Those that went through the divorce procedure using self-compassion versus self-criticism were much faster at recovery and getting back to a positive life. Think of self-compassion as the leash for that monster. A choke chain.
Last practice to really deal with those destructive behaviors and make them an asset over a detractor from your journeys, practice mindfulness. Not the monkish sit around for an hour trying to fill that space with nothing kind of mindfulness. But, rather one where you create pauses in your life where you can just be present. When you can pause in the midst of your angst and anger, you think more rationally in dealing with it. You’re playing offense. Mindfulness is the practice of paying purposeful attention to something, in this case our anger or rage. Specifically, brain scans of people that have used mindfulness as a best practice showed incredible strength in the parts of their brain that are responsible for stress, memory, empathy and positivity. Their brains grew more neuron pathways and the ability to process more input. They physically changed their brain capacity! Incredible.
What do you really want from your life? We have to come to terms with the social contagion that’s around us at the touch of a finger. We get negative and angry, because we allow the negative social contagion to infect our realities by putting ourselves in it or being a part of it. I’m talking about the feeling you get when you want to jump into a fight on social media, because you’ve just reading so much of it, it’s now warped your thinking. So much so, you decide to fan the flames and become part of the issue versus a solution to figuring it out and truly changing it. If you wrote a letter to your future self, what would you tell yourself? Try it! I bet there will be at least some scenarios in there you will tell your future self to avoid at all costs becoming a part of the negative moments that come up. In those moments you may have shown people the ugliest version of yourself. The self, you’d be appalled to see, embarrassed by.
Kind of passionate about this topic, because I have triggers and I battle the flip of that switch everyday. But, what I found with all that lifting around best practices above a much more rewarding life. An incredible life. A richer life. An awareness and a presence to it that is tuning itself everyday by what I learn from it. One moment at a time. Your agility with rage and anger needs to have distance between yourself and your actions as much as possible. Give yourself the space to examine those feelings you have before you act on them. Find constructive solutions to your frustrations. Engage that monster as fully as possible. In the long run, you’ll become the best version of yourself and for others in your life.