Do you know that feeling when you’ve been waiting in a long queue for 20 minutes and you’ve only moved up what fells like inches? Or when your boss gives you bad feedback that you know is untrue?
I’ve been there – and I know how annoying it can be.
But even though it’s frustrating when things don’t go the way we want them to, complaining or blaming others only makes the situation worse.
So, if whining is not a good choice, what can you do to deal with anger constructively?
Option 1: Channel your anger into exciting projects
Anger is a powerful force. And many people use this force for destruction. It seems to take hold of the parents who beat their kids, the politicians who wage wars and those who struggle with auto-aggression.
But how come some people channel their anger and use it for the collective good? People like Mark Zuckerberg who programmed the first version of Facebook after his girlfriend broke up with him. Or a close relative of mine, who got fired from her first job and decided to set up a competing business in the recruiting industry.
What do these people do differently?
Well, one thing they’ve learnt is to harness the transformative power of anger. While you can use your angry energy to destroy what people before you have created – you could also choose to use it to create something new.
All that matters is toward which goals you direct your energy. You can choose to project your anger onto the people around you, leading to fights and arguments. Or you can direct it at yourself, destroying all that you’ve achieved and creating a big heap of frustration, failures and disappointment.
But anger can also motivate you to get started on exciting projects. Anger can give you the courage to make your dreams come true.
The best way to use your anger constructively is to visualise its transformative power. Let me show you how by taking you on an imaginative journey:
You are standing amidst red and black clouds of smoke, unable to see what lies before, behind and around you. The air is hot. Your feet are hurting. And you’re struggling to breathe through the dense clouds of smoke. You know you need to get away.
To the serenity of nature. A beautiful meadow with grazing cows, or a sunny beach upon which waves fall gently. A little breeze of air that tickles your soft face, and the wet sand that soothes your burnt feet.
You recover quickly and you start to create. In your imagination, you become the pretty girl or guy you’ve always wanted to be. You feel happy and grateful for every part of your life. You’ve created a thriving business by helping others, and you don’t have to worry about money ever again. You live comfortably, with your family and friends – and you rejoice all the positive moments of your life. Deep inside, you know you are walking the right path in life, and you feel fulfilled.
How do you feel after reading these lines? Do they resonate with you?
What I’ve tried to do here is show you how you can use the power of visualisation to transform negative emotions like anger and use them to support your goals. I highly recommend coming up with your images and using your imagination to channel your anger into exciting projects.
Option 2: Interrupt the spiral of anger
You can also look at anger as a series of negative thoughts that all come together and make you feel annoyed, frustrated or enraged.
For example, you might be thinking to yourself ‘My boss is such a micro-manager’ . And then one thought leads to the next. ‘She doesn’t let me do anything on my own. I feel so controlled by her. Why can’t she just leave me alone?’
Each of these thoughts can make increasingly frustrated with the world, causing your anger to spiral.
But rather than getting caught up in the anger spiral, you can deliberately stop after each negative thought that comes to your mind – and find a way to view it positively.
Thoughts like ‘My boss is such as micromanager’ can become ‘Thankfully, my boss is quite a micro-manager, as this means that we also pay attention to all the little details on our project. This nicely complements my working style, as I like to focus more on the big picture’.
You can also change ‘my boss doesn’t let me do anything on my own’ to ‘I will find ways in which I can work independently and still contribute to the team.’
Do this for all the negative thoughts in your anger spiral, and I promise you, it will change your outlook on even the most frustrating situations.
Option 3: Identify and let go of your triggers
Sometimes, it doesn’t seem to matter how much you try to think positively – and regardless of what you do, you still feel angry.
In these situations, it is helpful to look for your triggers – situations, words, colours, etc. that make you particularly angry.
These triggers can bring unresolved emotions from the past to light. Suppose you always get angry when someone criticizes you or compares you to someone you think is better than you. One thing you can learn from this experience is to view critique as a helpful form of feedback.
But maybe there is also a deeper cause – like the fact that your parents always criticised you for not getting good grades and kept comparing you to your elder sibling, who was – at least in their eyes – the perfect student.
In this case, you might find it easier to let go of your anger by forgiving your parents for the constant comparison, your sibling for being better than you, and most importantly yourself for holding a grudge and not finding a better way to deal with critique sooner.
Forgive yourself for feeling angry – and let go of the anger you felt about old events. Forgiving all involved people frees the shackles of your past, and makes you feel better in the present.
You can use anger in a positive way by:
- Using the power of visualisation to channel your frustration into heart-felt projects
- Challenging negative thoughts and interrupting your anger spiral
- And lastly, identifying and letting go of old triggers
Now pick a time when you felt angry – and use of the techniques above to turn your negative emotions into a positive experience.
Let me know in the comments what changed for you after using these techniques!