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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Curb Your Anger: Personal Boundaries--Violate them at Your Own Risk

What Gets Your Goat?

Granted, there's plenty to be angry about today. But what is it for you?
  • What drives you to the breaking point--leaving you feeling crazy, angry and frustrated?
  • What tips you over the top leaving you feeling mad at the whole world without knowing why?
  • What turns you from being a fully-functioning adult into a seemingly helpless and frustrated child inside?
E-motion--Don't Leave Home without it 

I hate to feel stuck or controlled--it makes me angry and frustrated. I am driven by the desire to move freely in my daily life, so seeking a way to quickly break free from encumbrances became important to me at a young age. Years ago I embraced a definition of emotion that allowed me to view all emotion in a positive light and to use it in a more fluid, productive manner.

'Instead of viewing emotion as good or bad, happy or sad--I came to understand E-motion as energy in motion. Our e-motions give us the energy to act, the drive to right wrongs, and the desire to pursue our dreams.'
Personal Values Define Our Internal 'Lines in the Sand'

The goal of anger management isn't to become a placid, 'Stefford Wife (or person)' devoid of emotion--especially anger. It's to learn how to use the energy created by the e-motion to create positive outcomes.

Chances are the situations or people that make you exceptionally angry violate one or more of your personal values. Our personal values define our invisible boundaries--our lines in the sand. When someone crosses one of those lines we feel violated, resulting in a wall of anger and frustration. And anger left unattended can quickly turn inward and lead to depression.

I get angry or frustrated at least once a day. But I've learned to use that anger--or energy-in-motion to help me identify what personal values have been violated. Being able to name the invisible boundaries crossed puts me back in control and provides the momentum for taking positive action.

By using my anger to help me identify what I value, I now have choices for taking action based on what I value rather than on what makes me angry.

Use Your Anger to Identify what You Value

Don't just sit in your anger, use the energy to identify what your personal values are and  take positive action based on them.

Situational depression occurs when you feel hopeless or helpless in response to a situation that knocks the wind out of you. To avoid getting depressed in response to tough situations, get in the habit of always following up by taking action that has the potential of producing positive outcomes.

What to Do

Think of a situation or person that upset you in the last week.
  • What happened?
  • List what made you angry or frustrated in the situation.
  • List things you value that may have been violated in the situation.
  • Chose a positive response based on your personal values.
  • Take positive action--even if you don't feel like it.
Here are some of the things I've learned about myself by going through this process of converting anger into better understanding my personal values and choosing to take action based on those values.

What makes me Angry?

  • Injustice
  • Bullies
  • Narcissists
  • Untested Assumptions
  • Overly Critical Judgments
  • Controlling People
  • Uncaring People
  • Self-righteous People
  • Lack of Opportunity for People
  • Being Held Back

What Do I Value?
  • Opportunity to Achieve
  • Creativity
  • 'Flow' Experiences
  • Humane Treatment of People
  • Humane Treatment of Animals
  • Productive Work
  • Harmony
  • Freedom
  • Caring
  • Teamwork
  • Enthusiasm
  • Joyful Experiences
  • Fun
  • Achieving Personal Dreams
  • Helping Others Achieve their Dreams
  • Openness
  • Truth
  • Trust and Connection

How I want to act based on Anger
  • Lash out at offender.
  • Give them a dose of their own medicine.
  • Cut offender off.
  • Talk poorly about offender.
  • Turn others against offender.
  • Wish bad things on the offender.

How I choose to act based on my Values (Creating a Positive Outcome)
  • Do nothing to let my anger cool.
  • Look for ways to open up communication and develop trust.
  • Talk to, not about the person, to clarify facts and understanding.
  • Seek to create opportunities to work with others joyfully and enthusiastically.
  • Seek more positive environments.
  • Reach out to others to build trust and connection.
Don't let yourself be led by your anger. Choosing your actions based on your values puts you in the driver seat. Put your e-motions to work for you--giving you the energy to act, the drive to right wrongs, and the desire to pursue your dreams. You're worth it.

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Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Sue, this is such an important post. So many people today are angry and, unlike you, make no attempt to turn their anger into something positive. This is a strategy that could make a huge impact.

teresa said...

Once again, you have hit a sore spot. Recently I was 'pushed' to that anger point. I am still cooling my jets, so to speak, and have done nothing about my perceived injustice. Today I will speak to the person, not to her supervisor as was my first inclination. I have yet to figure out what boundary I feel she has crossed that has made me feel this way or why I have held on to it for nearly a week. That can't be healthy. I hope our conversation today is productive. Who knows and I am holding on to the idea that our conversation will open the door to better understanding between our departments.

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

Jean--this is what I know: no one likes to feel out of control. Anger and rage are responses to our feeling out of control. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to pursue a path that puts us back in control. We may have a right to our anger, and we may feel justified in responding out of anger, but it ultimately leaves us feeling out of control, abused and violated. The only good outcome is produced when we find a positive way to use that energy-in-motion to improve our lives based on what we value.

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

If you just keep seeking the answers to what you value based on your frustrating situations you'll eventually learn what it is that drives you. Good for you slowing it down to cool your anger.