Why is everyone so angry!? Well… maybe not everyone, but in the last few weeks I feel like I have been met by anger and frustration at every turn. A neighbor even left a note on my car claiming that I was *insert expletive here* because of my parking. While I do my best to lead with compassion and understanding, everyone has a breaking point, right?
I let myself wallow in anger and self-pity for a little while, but once those emotion waves passed, it was time to dig deeper. Imagine anger as the very top of an iceberg. It sticks out of the water for everyone else to see but the more vulnerable emotions lie just below the surface. I was immediately enraged when I found the note on my car. I threw the note into the street and started planning my revenge! Anger was stepping up so that I would not be overwhelmed by embarrassment, inferiority, and helplessness.
While it can feel satisfying to sit in anger, it keeps us from acknowledging our deeper emotions and finding balanced resolutions. If I had stayed in anger, I may have written a nasty note and left it on the other person’s car. This could have snowballed into an unnecessary confrontation. Instead, I identified my vulnerable emotion, recognized that my ego had been hurt and from a place of compassion, I set an intention to be more patient with others.
Becoming familiar with the anger iceberg can be helpful in managing your own anger as well as understanding others.
Dealing with your own anger: The next time you are angry, thank it for coming out to protect you, and then get curious about the emotions at the bottom of the iceberg. Use the list below to help you identify emotions that may be triggering your anger. Naming those tender emotions can move you more quickly out of anger and into a calmer space of self-compassion and rational thinking.
Dealing with others’ anger: Remind yourself that anger always serves to protect. If someone is coming at you with anger, they are also experiencing painful emotions. Remembering that the angry person is suffering, can help you respond with neutrality or understanding instead of becoming defensive.
Interactions lead by anger never end in both parties feeling satisfied or heard. Imagine the potential understanding and healing that can occur when you turn “You are so stupid! Why the hell did you do that!?” into “I am feeling abandoned and scared.” Stop beating yourself or others up for feeling angry. Imagine it as a trailhead to self-awareness and discovery!