How to Control Your Anger and Find Peace of Mind


Imagine… John thinks of himself as a laid-back, generous guy. The day someone cut him off in traffic, John lost it and began yelling and screaming at the other motorist. John comes up next to the car, cuts him off at the red light, and begins to shout at him. When the light turns green, the other vehicle merely drives away while John continues to yell at him from his car.

As John continues driving and “cools off,” he reflects on the incident, feeling regret and humiliation for his actions but also justified; the other vehicle had no right to be so disrespectful as to cut him off. John’s mind will keep returning to the occurrence, bringing many emotions at different moments. John realizes that his actions were inappropriate and will eventually accept this himself, promising to “act better” the next time. After all, he is a wonderful guy.

John is having lunch the following day. A man is standing next to his table, yelling into his phone. John gives the intruder the evil eye and makes a few obnoxious remarks about “this rude person on the phone,” at which point the cell phone user retreats. John feels bad about his behavior for a while, but then he rationalizes it by thinking that the other person should not have been talking so loudly. Like the driving one, the mobile phone incident will haunt John’s thoughts, and the rage game will conclude the same way: with John promising to “act better” the next time. John, after all, is a genuinely good man.

John is not someone you would want to spend time with. To be clear, he is not, but he thinks he is. John suffers from a temper problem and an inflated sense of self-importance. John’s typical response to an incident where his anger leads to action is to beat himself up and swear he won’t do it again. John cannot fulfill this commitment.

Why? For the simple reason that John has convinced himself that he is a lovely and pleasant person while he is neither. Sometimes he may even question his fury and inability to manage it. But he’ll never get somewhere with this line of inquiry since he’s not even conscious that he’s an angry guy; he’s just thinking about it. Because John does not recognize his erroneous self-perception, he will react angrily in similar situations. His fury does not stem from external causes but from himself; he thinks he does. If he doesn’t learn from his mistakes, he’ll keep making the same ones repeatedly.

Indeed, the driver and the loud cell phone user were wrong. In any case, an altercation could have broken out, with very catastrophic consequences. These seemingly insignificant occurrences will continue to plague John, and if he doesn’t alter his responses, he may one day be in a dire predicament.

John can “think” all he wants about what causes his short temper, but that won’t help him because he won’t become consciously aware of his behavior. The mind is responsible for thinking, while the spirit’s role is awareness; the latter does nothing but observe before slowly providing the answer in the form of waking.

To calm down, John must accept that his perception of himself is inaccurate. He doesn’t have to beat himself up because he gets angry quickly; he has to take it. Then, instead of trying to stuff down his anger as it arises, he should observe it as one follows a passing bird. In that split second of silence, when he is watching his fury without judging or condemning it, he realizes he is angry. At that moment, he is doing more than just learning to manage his anger; he is “waking up” because he often feels angry. It’s enough to say something like, “Wow, that makes me angry,” followed by, “That’s interesting,” to gain insight into the source of the anger. In the following nanosecond, you will experience a state of pure awareness, free of all mental activity.

John can behave as an objective observer of his own life by taking this step. He has distanced himself from his feelings over the incident. John is “waking up” to realize that he has power over his emotions and can choose how to respond to situations that generally cause him fury. John’s ability to break the cycle of his prior behavior is directly related to his awareness of the distance between his anger and the occurrence. Habitual behavior and responses characterize the actions of the vast majority of people. By examining the motivations behind your actions and reactions, you can “aware” yourself and “wake up.”

Some may suggest this is like “counting to three” before getting furious. However, this is not the case. Most people will clench their teeth and count off angrily from three. As a result, they never come to terms with who they really are and will always react negatively to life’s setbacks. However, individuals can find calm by connecting with their authentic selves and letting their fury pass through them without interpretation. This spiritual strength is where their authentic self and their understanding reside. You relax serenely on the shore (peace) instead of braving the wild surges of the ocean (emotions).

If John keeps practicing this “awareness” whenever anything wrong happens, he will eventually realize that his actual nature is unaffected by the petty actions of others. Eventually, he will recognize the things that infuriated him no longer do. He now finds humor in situations that used to infuriate him. He will finally come to terms with who he is and, strangely enough, become the wonderful, pleasant guy he always imagined himself to be.

At the meetings and conferences of Fortune 1000 companies worldwide, Bob Garner blends his talents as a corporate entertainer and an empowering speaker, talking about performance and productivity.

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