Anger is an emotion that’s normal to all of us. Naturally, it’s an alarm that something is wrong. If you know how to use this signal the correct way, that’s great. But if you are perpetually angry, have lost your ability to self-control your emotions or your negative emotions are graduating to dis-ease; that’s not a good sign that you’re headed toward toxicity and it may destroy every part of your life.
Let’s have a look at the five types of anger that manifests in toxic behaviour:
- Verbal Anger: You use words to harm other people on an emotional level. This form of anger is expressed via insults and hurtful criticism.
- Passive Anger: You covertly manifest anger at other people through avoidance, silence and mockery. This form of anger is designed to inflict pain indirectly.
- Deliberate Anger: You use anger to purposefully gain control over people and events. This form of anger is deliberately used to manipulate people into getting what you want from them.
- Judgmental Anger: You make efforts to belittle and shame people at every opportunity. This form of anger isn’t violent or loud but can be incredibly hurtful and humiliating.
- Volatile Anger: You fuse verbal and physical abuse together to frighten and manipulate another person into doing what you want them to do. This form of anger is often very sudden and comes and goes in emotional bursts.
These five types of anger are all very different, however, they are all incredibly painful for the person receiving the brunt of the anger and toxic to the person who habitually holds these types of anger too. Think about each of them and honestly evaluate which forms of anger you habitually use. Ask yourself:
- Which of these types of anger have I used in the past?
- What specifically triggered each type of anger?
- How did I express each type of anger?
- How did it make me feel knowing that I hurt other people with my anger?
- How did this make other people feel?
- How did this make me feel?
- What can I learn from my angry outbursts?
How to Unlearn the Habit of Anger
No matter how much work you put into managing your emotions, there will certainly be times throughout your life when unexpected situations may rub you the wrong way and you find yourself habitually using toxic behaviour. Or you can find yourself on the receiving end of someone else’s anger.
Here’s a seven-step process you can use to manage your anger in a more helpful way:
# 1: Develop Self-Awareness
Your first step is to recognize that you’re about to lose your temper and there is a reason for that. What specifically within your environment, or within yourself stirred your emotions the wrong way?
Finally, acknowledge that you have a weakness. There are certain limitations within your personality that are causing you to feel and respond in a certain way. Acknowledging these habits and tendencies will allow you to begin the process of change.
# 2: Recognize Other Options
Once you are clear about how you’re feeling and have successfully acknowledged that there is a better way to respond to this situation, it’s now important to put some space between you and the things that triggered your anger. As such, it’s critical that you remove yourself from the situation that is causing you discomfort, agitation, and/or frustration. Remove yourself physically by walking away and taking some time to clear your head.
# 3: Keep Yourself Calm and Collected
Your next step is to calm yourself down emotionally. You can successfully calm yourself down by listening to relaxing music, by using affirmations, by counting backward from 10 while breathing deeply, by visualizing a calming scene within your imagination, etc. There are plenty of ways to calm down. Through trial and error, you will determine what works best for you.
Once you are calm and centred, remind yourself about your goals in this particular situation. What were you hoping to gain? Also, think about your most important values. These are the things that you are working toward. And these are the things that you might purposefully sabotage if you lose your cool. Remind yourself about the importance of staying calm under pressure, about the importance of maintaining good social relations with others, and about finding the strength within yourself to respond appropriately and intelligently.
# 4: Evaluate the Situation
Now comes time to be honest with yourself and evaluate the situation and evaluate your internal environment – your mindset.
Think about your personal standards and the expectations you are bringing into this situation. Maybe one or more of your standards have not been met? Maybe your expectations are unrealistic? Or just maybe one of your rules has been broken?
The purpose of this evaluation is to train yourself to proactively respond to events, people, and circumstances in an effective and rational manner. You are no longer going to allow your negative emotions to get the best of you. Instead, you will look at the situation from a variety of angles and perspectives, and then pick the most appropriate and helpful response moving forward.
Take into consideration that you also might have misinterpreted people, events or circumstances. Consider that you might not be seeing the full picture and accept the fact that you might actually be wrong and could very well have made a mistake. Be open to the possibilities, and above all else, be truthful with your responses.
# 5: Choose Appropriate Responses
Your next task is to take everything you have worked through so far into consideration, and then select the most appropriate and helpful response moving forward. The response you choose must have long-term payoffs and should support the greater good of all concerned. And this could very well mean that you still choose to project your anger if you feel that this is the most appropriate response in this situation. However, this will no longer be an uncontrolled form of anger. It will instead be a form of constructive anger that can help you get what you want most effectively.
You can, for example, release the anger and move on without getting emotionally wrapped up in the situation. Or you can instead choose to avoid the situation altogether. Alternatively, you can choose to control your anger in a productive way to help influence the outcome of the situation.
# 6: Evaluate Your Response
Again, it’s important that you are very honest with yourself and that you use this experience to help yourself choose better and more appropriate ways to respond to these kinds of situations in the future.
After the dust has settled and the moment has passed, take time to evaluate how you responded to the situation and the impact that this had on you, on others, and on the events and circumstances, you were dealing with. Ask yourself:
- How did I respond?
- What specifically did I do?
- Did I manage my anger effectively?
- Am I satisfied with how I behaved?
- Was my behaviour justified in this instance?
# 7: Learn from Your Experience
No matter what happened — even if you responded inappropriately — it’s important you forgive yourself. Without forgiveness, you will wallow in self-condemnation, self-pity and most likely continue making the same mistakes over and over again.
Once you have forgiven yourself, open yourself up to the possibility of taking the time to learn from this experience to gain the most value and feedback from every situation. What can you learn from this experience? In retrospect, could you have managed things differently? How will you do things better the next time around? How can you prepare yourself mentally to avoid resorting to toxic behaviour in future?
Applying the seven steps above takes time, patience, brutal honesty and courage which many people do not have. These steps, with time, constant practice and patience; will help you eventually unlearn your toxic behaviour and know how to respond to other people’s behaviour towards you on the conscious level.
For quick, easy and lasting toxic behavioural change, you need to work on your anger from a subconscious level where all behaviour originates. All habitual behaviour – whether positive or negative – starts in the subconscious mind.
Many people struggle to change their toxic behaviour and eventually fail and give up because they try their best to solve a subconscious problem with unconscious means; which never works. All behaviour is a result of your internal state which is affected by your thinking and emotional patterns.
To experience lasting change, you need to tackle the problem from its source. Toxic behaviour is a manifestation of a wounded soul. Once the soul is healed, behaviour always automatically changes to align with the new inner reality. If you’re a victim or a perpetrator of toxic behaviour and need help; you can contact me here.