- How Cool Can YOU Be?
How Cool Can YOU Be?
It’s not easy to stay cool when it seems other people are unable to control their emotions and their behaviours. It’s not easy to stay calm when just a few damage and steal the property of many. It’s not easy not to avoid being incited into an angry state and remain peaceful and positive when the disrespect and carelessness of others affects the comforts of our lives. And sometimes it’s hard not to get irritated even at those who advise us to stay calm! Anger is the sign we are losing our cool. It has been called the ‘incendiary’ emotion. Irritation and frustration are early warning signs. The deeper, more subtle, forms include resentment and jealousy. And the subtlest form is often disguised in that cloak of apparent humour that we know as ‘sarcasm’.
Is the world becoming an angrier place? Some would say yes including one major national newspaper who, a couple of years ago, did an extensive survey and named their report The Age of Rage! However the media does like to magnify our emotions for obvious reasons. So a pinch of salt is usually required! Perhaps the more important question for our personal reflection is am I becoming grumpier…generally? Again many people would say yes simply because the world is moving faster, and despite all the wonderful gadgets we now have we feel less and less in control of the events in our life. Not to mention the speed at which we are being called to live. And not to mention our medias delight in bringing us the worst of the news…first and fast and often with their own forms of fury!
And it seems the mythology the surrounds our personal and collective angers are becoming stronger and more entrenched. These are the myths that have us believing anger is a ‘natural’ emotion, that anger is a ‘necessary’ release, and that angry behaviour is ‘normal’ behaviour.
There also seems to be many more good reasons to be angry. Bankers and rioters, dictators and footballers, politicians and terrorists are all presented as easy excuses to create our own private emotional heat! And yet it seems only a few people will reflect deeply enough on their angst to notice that in our angry moments we are losing self control, losing the ability to think rationally and losing the plot entirely, as we become clinically insane, for a few moments at least.
The idea that anger as a sign of insanity is seldom noticed even less acknowledged. Why? Because we find it hard to ‘see’ that whenever we make our selves angry we are trying to do the impossible, which is either change the past or control other people. Fortunately it’s also impossible to stay angry. Do try and you will likely notice how you start laughing after a while.
It’s those early warning signs that we need to watch out for in those moments of irritation and frustration. They start to embed themselves as habits within our personality and before we know it, like a creeping vine in the garden, they start growing and reaching into all areas of our life. Then, when full blown anger strikes the ‘red mist’ descends blinding us to our common sense and taking over our behavior. As we ignite our indignity our blood pressure rises and we become instantly ‘reactive’ as we lose our cool.
But if we don’t want to get to the roots of anger and cut it off at the pass, which is always within our own consciousness, there are also some logical and rational reasons for embarking on the ‘inner work’ of NOT getting angry, especially at home and in the workplace.
1 Self Sabotage
We all know from personal experience that whenever we are angry we are the one who suffers first and most. The equivalent at a physical level would be stabbing our leg with a knife. Not something we choose to do most days!. So why do we become angry? One reason is we forget that we have a choice! We don’t have to react angrily as there are many other ways to respond. But until we see and accept emotional responsibility we’ll feed the fiery monster in our heads.
2 Bad Example
Someone is always watching us and reverting to anger sets an example for others. Whether it’s our children, our staff or our colleagues, by becoming frequently irritated or frustrated we are saying it’s OK and even good to be upset. We will likely water each others vines of irritation and frustration during our cappuccino conversations with lines like, “I was so mad with them…Wasn’t that just awful…I’m really upset with…”
3 Loss of Control
We usually get angry when we don’t get what we want or when someone doesn’t do what we want, or does do what we don’t want! In such moments we lose control of our emotional state and therefore our words and actions. This loss of self control then becomes a habit and starts to induce mental tiredness and fractures are likely to start appearing in our relationships.
4 Loss of Respect
We lose the respect of others for our loss of self control. As a result of this loss we diminish our self-respect and then end up directing the anger at our self. This sets up a vicious cycle that becomes difficult to break.
5 Others Become Closed and Defensive
Whenever we target others with our anger they see it as an attack so they close ranks around their own thoughts and feelings and become defensive. Open communication becomes difficult if not impossible. They may even return the anger and before we know it we are at war. All wars large and small have such a dynamic somewhere at their origin.
6 Takes Time and Energy to Repair the Relationship
When we project our anger on to another the relationship is damaged at best or breaks down at worst. If a task goes wrong it’s not so hard to repair but if a relationship goes wrong it usually requires much more time and energy to mend.
7 Create a Culture of Violence
If we are seen as the leader or have a position of responsibility we become the initiators and sustainers of a ‘culture’ of violence. Anger is not only a violent emotion it is the precursor to violent behaviour. It even has its own ‘glorified form’ in what we call revenge. This is why we find ourselves in a somewhat peaceless world almost wherever we go.
8 Personal Health
The scientists have proved that the emotion of anger generates physical chemicals in our body known as cortisol and adrenaline. Over time both chemicals will harden our arteries and eventually affect the health of our heart. So even at a physical level an attack of ‘the angries’ can be debilitating and perhaps fatal over time.
9 Takes Time to Restore Calm and Self Control
Following any outburst of anger, or even the quiet simmering of resentment, it also takes time, attention and energy to restore our inner peace and self control. Energy that could be creatively deployed elsewhere.
10 Perpetrate a Myth
Whenever we become angry we tend to perpetrate the myth that someone or something else is responsible for our emotions and feelings. We disempower our self by believing that others are to blame for ‘making us angry’. We then start to see our self as a victim when, in truth, no one else is responsible for our emotional suffering. When the red mist does descend, in such moments anger is a mental and emotional disease that has no cure. We can only wait for it to pass, as it always does…fortunately. But there is a way of prevention. However it’s not going to be possible to free our self from the habit of anger creation until a number of personal pennies have dropped and induced a few AHA moments including:
1 It’s not them it’s me
2 I can’t control anyone, only influence others
3 I cannot change the past only my perception of the past
4 In the world out there all is as it is at all times!
5 I don’t need anyone to ‘make’ me happy
6 I CAN be an inspirational source of peace for others until they reconnect with their own inner source
7 Justice is ultimately a rebalancing of energy and it moves at its own speed – it’s not my job to enforce it, even in my own mind!
It’s obviously not cool to be uncool, but to maintain our emotional equilibrium and be the purveyors of the balm of calm in all situations at all times, is no small challenge for many of us, if not most of us, in these ‘interesting times’! It’s just as well the one thing we can never lose at the emotional level is ‘choice’. Question: When you lose your cool what are the three most frequent reasons?
Reflection: Being upset is doesn’t create change – why?
Action: Practice an AHA per day during this coming week.
An edited extract from Don’t Get MAD Get Wise available from Amazon
The last two Clear Thinking e-articles were:
Are YOU a Seeker or an Avoider?
Where do YOU Get the Power to Change?
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