A father wants to explain to his often angry son what effect anger has. So, he took him to a fence and commanded “Hammer a nail into the fence each time you react to anger, and remove one each time you instead remain calm”. During the first few weeks the son had many nails to hammer, but he soon learned to control his anger better and was able to slowly reduce them. One day really happy and satisfied the son approached his father asking him to come and see. He showed him the fence now nail free.
The father congratulated his son. Then he took him closer and asked him what he could see. There were lots of holes in the fence left from the nails. And the father said, so it is with angry behaviour. It will leave a mark even when forgiven.
Did you know that when you are angry the ‘emotional’ brain makes you believe you are right?
Why: In anger, most people will be adamant they are right. Whilst angry they remain determined to defend their point of view to the bitter end, even though the ‘intellectual’ brain when calm and relaxed would be able to see both sides of the argument. It is a normal survival instinct, but is this a desirable instinct to follow?
These instincts kick in twofold when two people are angry at each other. With this in mind, it’s easy to understand why people have arguments and at the same time feel completely misunderstood. Both try to bring their point across, convinced they are objective and logical, and can’t understand why the other won’t agree. But with this mindset nobody is actually listening, and solutions cannot be found.
The anger response was designed to defend against real danger e.g. being attacked, but in most cases we regret the outcome. They do not serve the goal of living a happy life.
What can be done about it?
The key to avoiding anger and conflict is ‘doubt’ – to doubt that your point of view is the only right way to see the situation.
Practical steps: When angry (frustrated), give yourself the chance to control your actions and reactions. So, just for a moment do something to take yourself away from the situation and the immediate ‘perceived threat’. Turn away, leave the room, excuse yourself to the toilet, or better still close your eyes and count slowly to 10, breathing in to the count of 5 and out to the count of 7 will slow down the body, and the mind will follow. Use this opportunity to ask yourself what you like about the person you are interacting with and only return to the conversation after you have come up with at least 2 examples in mind. This can be easier with family and friends than colleagues or other associates, but even they probably did something constructive, positive or amusing at some point. Perhaps you admire a skill they have.
What is more important anyway – to find a solution or to be right?
This exercise helps you to switch off your normal ‘defense’ instinct and bring you back into the intellectual brain. It conjures up a feeling of control and makes room for a more balanced approach, which leads to acknowledgement of the other person and their viewpoint, thus allowing them to feel heard. With an angry mindset it’s easy to overlook that we are talking to a person we love/ respect. This exercise needs a bit of practice but can save a lot of time and distress, and you won’t even need to muster up an apology! It’s a great self-help tool, which also serves to boost self-esteem and self-respect.
Hypnotherapy helps people to changes their perception of situations, to change thought-patterns surrounding events, and therefore offers more options for responding, to remain in the ‘intellectual’ brain.