If your life has been plagued by anger, rage, unresolved hurt, and pain, this may be hard for you to face head on.
You may still believe that managing and controlling anger is a way out.
Yet youâ€™ve been down that path, and it hasnâ€™t solved your anger problem.
Each so-called solution; each attempt to stop or slow down the pain, to manage and control it; has gotten you to this place. And you are still angry.
It seems as if the most sensible solution to an anger problem is to control the anger. At least that is what the voice in your head tells you. This voice comes from the belief that anger is dangerous; that itâ€™s impossible to feel anger and still live a good life.
Well…the voice is lying to you. Controlling anger doesnâ€™t work in the same way that control works in other areas of life. In this article, you will learn why. Youâ€™ll also learn how to begin letting go of the anger control agenda and get on with your life.
Two Areas Where Control Doesnâ€™t Work
Trying to control areas of your life where you donâ€™t have much control is a surefire guarantee of disappointment and anger.
There are some situations where desirable choices seem nonexistent such as sever illness, deception by a partner, or getting laid off from a job.
People can usually see that such situations are out of their control, and they donâ€™t beat themselves up for not being able to make things turn out differently.
Most angry people feel they must struggle fiercely to get a grip on their angry thoughts and feelings. Struggling with what you think and feel may be how you have learned to cope with your anger.
You may even beat yourself up for not being able to control your hurt, pain and disappointment. Youâ€™re not alone; itâ€™s natural to think that you should be able to control them.
The problem with control strategies is:
They work just enough to keep your painful feelings at bay, but in the long run you are left feeling angry and hurt. Once this cycle of struggle and control is set into motion, it can take over and become the dominant feature of your life.
Everyoneâ€™s anger stems from two main sources:
- Their struggle to control other people
- Their struggle to control painful emotions such as anger and shame
You canâ€™t control other people:
Angry people go to great lengths to exert control over other people. You may achieve an illusion of control with infants and very young children, but itâ€™s impossible to even fool yourself when it comes to exerting control over older children and adults. The goal of control will fail 99 percent of the time.
When you try to control others, youâ€™re operating under the mistaken assumption that other people in your life ought to behave, think, and act like you think they should.
The plain and simple truth is that other people donâ€™t like feeling controlled, and neither do you. Trying to control others sends the message that you do not accept them for who they are. You are expressing mistrust of their judgment; in effect, putting them beneath you.
Here, your mind is feeling you two lies.
- First, it is telling you that you have the right to control others.
- The second lie is that you actually have the ability to control others.
Both are essentially false. You canâ€™t force your way into the minds of other people, just as other people canâ€™t force their way into your head to tell you how you should feel, think, or behave.
If you think you can do this, then you are only kidding yourself. When you act to control others, you basically have a 100 percent guarantee that they will eventually find ways to resist and run from you. We can also promise you that your efforts will leave you feeling frustrated and angry.
Exercise: Control over Others is misleading: A Self-Inventory
Here is a list of behaviors driven by efforts to control other people. All these efforts eventually lead to anger, frustration, conflict, bitterness, and alienation. Take inventory of your behavior as you go through the list and check off each statement that applies to you:
- I routinely offer advice that is unwanted by pleading, persuading, or lecturing.
- I repeat a point over and over in an effort to get others to align their thoughts and views with mine.
- I communicate by telling rather than discussing.
- I use â€œshoulds,â€ â€œmusts,â€ â€œhad betters,â€ and similar absolute statements when communicating.
- I use my anger to get my message across or force compliance in others.
- I use inflexible, strict statements, stubborn noncompliance, closed-mindedness, or chilling silence to influence others.
- I impose my choices, beliefs, and standards on others with uncompromising stubbornness.
- I write off the behaviors, values, thoughts, opinions, and choices of others as wrongheaded and in need of my correction.
- I procrastinate or give a halfhearted effort as a way to get back or get even.
- I tend to be impatient with myself and other people.
- I feel uneasy about loose ends and strive for closure, even if it hurts me or others.