When faced with an anger trigger, it can be tempting to immediately lash out.
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You can find yourself transforming from your typical, level-headed persona to a rage-filled person you don’t even recognize – someone who is prone to flying off the handle only to later feel remorse for reacting in such an abrasive fashion. If you find that you react aggressively more often than you would like, the cure for this could be focusing on responding with intention. With just six simple steps, you can make your responses more positive, more powerful and more productive, potentially improving your interactions with others and strengthening your relationships as a whole.
You need to be aware of what angers you. When you’re calm and relaxed, put pen to paper and make a list of all the things that trigger your upset. Think back to any time in recent memory when you got upset by someone or something. Dissect each incident and try to figure out what really made you mad. For example, if you got in a fight with your boyfriend and lashed out, think back through the fight. Maybe what really made you angry was the fact that your boyfriend labeled your emotions as unreasonable. Perhaps, he kept talking over you so you felt stifled and silenced.
The more specific you can be in your list of triggers, the more effective you will be in recognizing and responding appropriately to these triggers in the future, so put some work into this process. It’s the seed from which everything else will grow.
Make it a point to, when faced with these triggers in the future, avoid a reactionary response. Now that you know what things have upset you in the past, you’ll be able to spot these incidents in the future and better control your responses.
After you’ve compiled your trigger list, spend a bit more time reflecting. Think specifically about your reactions during these upsetting situations. Think about the negative repercussions of these anger-filled responses.
Taking deep breaths, force yourself to take a sacred pause. During this time, actively think about your responses during these situations. Consider what did happen and could have happened. Ponder what you could have done differently.
As you remember these incidents, picture them in your mind’s eye. Once you have a good grip on your image, try to jump into the other party’s shoes. Imagine what your response must have looked like to your friend or relative. Think about their feelings in response to your lashing out.
If you can, try to change your mindset. In the heat of the moment, you likely thought of the person who angered you as an enemy – someone on the opposite site of some battle. What if this isn’t what they are at all? What if they are a well-meaning advisor or teacher? What if that person’s intention was to help you get on the path to becoming a happy and productive person? Give them the benefit of the doubt. This person may not have intended to cause you mental anguish, and you shouldn’t hold this against them. Nothing good will come of the retention of that negativity.
To prevent history from repeating itself, you must force yourself to no longer react in the same fashion. You’ve already recognized your triggers and conditioned responses. Now relinquish these. Send these negative reactions out into the world and adopt a new, healthy set of responses to situations such as these.
This isn’t something you can do in an instant. You didn’t acquire these reactions in a period of minutes, but instead developed them over your lifetime. Relinquishing them will be no easy task. To be successful in this quest, you must dedicate yourself to this goal and continually revisit it in the coming days, weeks and even months – particularly when anger erupts.
Help make new reactions automatic by reconditioning yourself. As you sit in quiet contemplation over the next days and weeks, think back on the situations that made you mad at the start of this process. Replay them again in your mind. As you replay each one, think about how little impact each occurrence will actually have in your real life. Fast forward your brain and think about months, years and decades after each conflict. Will it still even matter? Probably not.
Repeat this process regularly, and prove to yourself that the things that created major emotional strife in the past are really inconsequential and that, what does matter, is harmony and peace. Remind yourself that, through dedication to this process, you will arrive at a more peaceful, happier, generally more contented place. You will be the bright, happy, productive, non-grudge-holding person you really want to be.
For optimal success in avoiding negativity in the future, you need to change your entire system of reacting. In fact, you need to largely abandon reacting all together. Instead, focus on being proactive.
You’ve broken apart the situations that have upset you in the past in a fashion that so few do. You are supremely attuned to your triggers. You’ve reflected upon some incidents that proved transformative to you. You’ve looked at things from another’s perspective. You’ve let go of these things. Also, you’ve developed a plan for responding in the future. You are so aware that you are truly capable of avoiding conflicts in the future.
Now that you know your triggers so well, you can see them coming. If you suspect a trigger is on the horizon, don’t wait for it – redirect the conversation. Bring attention to the fact that you’re treading on dangerous territory, if need be. Be respectful of your partner and open about your desire to make the interaction positive. If your partner persists after you’ve raised these red flags, voice again your concern about this line of discussion. Share your feelings and thoughts openly.
Although this practice is decidedly more difficult than just reacting in the way to which you’ve grown accustomed, changing your practice will be so life-altering that it will prove worth it. By changing the way you deal with these conflicts, you can improve the quality of your life and the quality of life of those around you. You can finally embrace the positivity you have sought for so long.
At the end of the day, you can’t change other people. You can only change yourself and modify your reactions to them. Take advantage of this ability. Harness your power to learn from errors of the past and build a brighter, conflict-free future. Help yourself and those around you to lead happier, healthier, stress-free lives. You can’t make the world conflict-free. You can make yourself conflict-free, or at least conflict-light, with dedication to this process.