Anger as a powerful and often heroic emotion is well portrayed in our movies and books. Right from vengeance to violence, all of it, supposedly arises from anger.

It so happens, that having grown up, we feel that it is just and right to get angry because of what others do.

We feel that something happened – someone said something or did something, or something was not done as we wanted it, and that lead to our anger. Right?

Wrong.

Anger is largely a matter of what you’ve been telling yourself about the situations around you. Anger is about the few thoughts that quickly cross your mind just before you get angry.

Taming your anger is all about changing what you tell yourself.

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Imagine this: There are two guys, both stuck with a fairly annoying autowala.

Guy A: Can you take the shortcut?

Autowala: Are you nuts! The police will catch me! I’m not going to take that road!

Guy A (thinks): Dammit! how dare he tell me he won’t take the short cut! I pay his fare, I decide where he should go!

Result: Gets into a useless argument with the autowala.

Guy B: Can you take the shortcut?

Autowala: Are you nuts! The police will catch me! I’m not going to take that road!

Guy B (thinks): Well, it is annoying that we need to take the long cut, and while I can try to convince him, he definitely does not owe it to me to choose that route. It’ll be uncomfortable, but I guess I’ll manage

Result: May or may not convince the autowala, but will not feel as pissed of or annoyed.

The difference between guy A and guy B is that while A assumed that the situation is personally angering for him, guy B looked at it differently and did not place unreasonable demands on things he could not control. He also brought down the drama in the situation.

Some common thoughts and beliefs that piss us off, and which we could reframe include:

Feeling under threat • I could get hurt here • This is dangerous

Feeling there has been an injustice • This isn’t fair • You’re completely wrong

Feeling something/someone has prevented us from doing something • You can’t stop me • Get out of my way

Feeling someone has attacked or criticised us • You’ve really upset me • Don’t treat me like that

Feeling someone has violated or broken a rule which is important to us • That’s not right • You can’t do that.

How to change these beliefs:

  1. Don’t blast out immediately after the angering circumstance.
  2. Take a breath and count backwards from 10.
  3. Find the belief that’s making you angry, maybe it’s one from the list above.
  4. Question it as follows:

(1) Is there another way to seeing this?

(2) What would someone else do?

(3) What are the chances of that happening?

(4) What is the worst thing that could happen?

(5) Am I right to think that?

(6) Will this matter in 5 years time?

(7) What is this worth?

The biggest trigger of your anger, is what you tell yourself. Changing that will make you a calmer person.