See yourself at a business meeting. Perhaps tensions are high because sales are low. Look around the room. Pay attention to how different individuals handle the stress.
Some smile and swallow their anger. Others make jokes. Some leave the room. Others get loud. Others get even louder.
What do you do when tensions take over the room?
It's not about questioning if you do get angry. Rather, it's how do you show your anger. Even more, it's about what's underneath the anger. That's the real question.
Whatever you call it, anger is real and needs to be addressed. Yet, please be aware that anger is a secondary reaction to the stress. It is the deeper stress and anxiety that is rarely discussed. Once you look underneath the anger you can manage it more effectively.
Let's take a quick trip back to the past.
Instead of a business meeting see yourself sitting at the dinner table when you were a kid and conflict showed up. Did your family duke it out in a contentious way? Did they scatter as fast as possible in all directions? Did someone, maybe even you, just stay frozen, like a deer in the headlights?
There are three main ways we all learned from early on to handle conflict: Fight, flight or freeze. These are the ways our ancient ancestors behaved and we have genetic memory to keep these ways of responding in our behavior patterns, even if they're no longer the best ways anymore.
Here's an updated way of looking at what fear and anxiety do to us:
- Anger: It happens all the time and it's a way of telling you to adapt and adjust. It's a force that can help you learn to manage relationships so they don't dissolve or end up with a lawyer to fight your battles for you. How you handle anger now is directly related to how you handled anger as a kid. Take time to connect the dots from past to now. Then you need to do some hard work to reverse how you respond when your buttons get pushed.
- Betrayal: When conflict comes we tend to pick sides. There are three sides to consider just like fight, flight or freeze. You are either for, against or play neutral. When someone we thought we could trust goes over to the other side, the dark side, we feel betrayed. Betrayal is hard to reconcile. However, if not tended to, it can erode relationships for years, even a lifetime. This is about feelings of being abandoned or ignored and how you handled the discomfort of being left out or pushed aside.
- Chaos: Like anger, chaos can be used for good or naught. In the midst of confusion, when nothing seems to make sense, if you just stand still, you can come to a new understanding of what is going on. When chaos leaves you breathless, take a time out. Think about how you asked, or did not ask for help in the past, who came to your aid and how did the swirling chaos settle down for new beginnings to more positive times.
If you're addicted to anger and you need to be in control, run, don't walk to get a coach who will help you with the ABC's, the whole picture. Anger is a symptom. Get to the underlying anxiety so you can make changes quickly. You'll be healthier and more joyful in all your relationships.