I recently had an experience with someone from my past that created an awareness for me. So, I made this meme for my Instagram account. After posting, I had a few clients reach out and ask me to connect the message to a life-lesson tool for them to practice. (I love my clients - they have the best ideas.) Here's what came up...
Most of us were taught to be kind to one another, turn the other cheek, keep the peace, be the better person, don't rock the boat, let it go, be nice....you get the idea. Well, what if getting angry is the kindness in truly being you? What if it was ok to set yourself free from that someone who repeatedly triggers you? See, when a person's actions do not match their words, something is up. It's not yours. That's the red flag. How cool would it be if by acknowledging the anger it went away and things didn't upset you any longer because you were choosing something different?
Ever get triggered in a way that makes your blood pressure rise and your body literally reacts by shaking, wanting to vomit, etc? HELLO? Your body is telling you something. It is remembering the effects of a similar experience from another point in time that didn't end well. Would you be willing to you listen to what your body is saying? Most likely it's telling you that someone is lying to you because the words do not support the actions. Take a minute to thank your body, please. It has your back!
When your body experiences anger you react in one of two ways. The first way is reaction - fighting back. The second way is leaving/shutting down - flight. You might say or do regrettable things as a way of hurting the other person. Or, you shut down and literally shove the anger into the body. Neither response is healthy for your body and your being. (No judgement from me - been there, done that.)
The tools I use to move beyond reacting to anger are:
1.) Awareness: acknowledge the anger. Insert your expletives here.
2.) Allowance: take time to be in the emotion of anger in 10 second increments until you are ready to choose something different. (Fun trick: three hundred 10-second increments is only 5 minutes yet it seems like a really long time this way.)
3.) Question: ask what is right about this? what is going on for me with this? what can I learn from this? is this true for me? is this person lying to me? is it even mine?
4.) Choice: what would I like to do differently to create change? what will be a positive contribution towards me, them, this situation? will my choice hurt me, them, others? (For example; if you choose to go "lemonade" on your man's car because he cheated - that affects several people...just sayin'.)
5.) Gratitude: take a moment to thank your body for sending you a message, a moment to thank that person for the awareness, and a moment for choosing something other than reacting.
What kind of choice will you make now that the energy of anger is gone? What response feels light and easy for you? Is it better to say nothing to the other person and move on? (Careful - if you have any residual thoughts looping in your head, you may want to practice to the five steps again- make sure your body is comfortable with this - otherwise, you will lock the anger into your body and it will come up again - she said from experience...) If you choose to respond - what will your response contribute to you and others connected to you? Are you responding for the purpose of being right or to set a boundary? (If you want to be right - please go back and practice the five steps again. Does it really matter which one of you is right? What if there was no right or wrong?) If the message has no energy of anger and simply states truth for you, maybe that's the choice you want to make. Whatever you choose, take the time you need for that anger to leave your body before doing anything. And, if you make a choice before the anger is actually gone, good news - you get to make another choice. It's up to you - what feels easy to choose?
Here's an example from a teen client: D's best-friend kept telling her that she had too much homework but she'd love to hang out soon. That friend would then post pics on social media out and about with other friends in the group. This was the red flag. D was hurt and angry. D felt excluded. The friend's actions did not match her words. That's the lie. This is where the five steps come in....1.) D got angry and acknowledged her friend's actions upset her. 2.) she took a few minutes to cry and yell (at a pillow) 3.) asked questions and realized that someone who lies to you and excludes you from the group is not your friend. 4.) D talked with her parents (who asked D how they could support her) and D choose to block the friend on social media and text. 5.) D thanked the friend (with me in a session) for showing her she was placing too much importance on what everyone else was doing and making it personal when she was not included. Using the five steps, D acknowledged she could not control what the friend was saying and doing, but she could choose not to follow the posts which triggered her every time. D stepped out of feeling powerless because she acknowledged what she knew and made a different choice. By setting a boundary for herself, D created space for a new group of friends who honor her.
So, would you be willing to acknowledge the red flag and land on the other side of anger? You might find honoring yourself this way is a kindness to everyone.