Is your business making you angry?
I don’t mean like being upset because a client did something to you. We all go through those moments, and they are just that, moments that will pass.
No, I’m referring to being angry most of the time, those moments when you can’t even have a meeting with anyone even outside of work because you are a bomb about to explode.
Perhaps you are burnt out after a challenging project, or maybe you just had a terrible week, and you want to hide under the blankets until the storm passes.
And as much as I would love to tell you that’s a valid strategy when you are working for yourself, that’s pretty much the wrong choice every time. But before we figure out a better alternative, let me explain why we need to backtrack a little bit and understand anger itself.
What does it mean to be angry?
“Alex, that’s obvious, angry is an emotion that should be avoided at all costs.”
That pretty much sums up the way people view this particular emotion. Anger is something dangerous that should be avoided. And I agree to a certain extent.
Lashing out, the consequence of bottling anger for a long time is one of the things that you should avoid at all costs, it causes more problems than you would believe, but lashing out is not anger.
Anger is one of the fundamental human emotions, and like all emotions it means something. That meaning changes from person to person, but we can apply a couple of simple rules that can help you avoid its extreme side.
In simple terms, when you are angry, it means there is something that it’s threatening you. Depending on the level of the threat is how angry you can get. From just annoyed by something simple to complete rage because a ton of things are trying to get you.
Now, before we keep moving forward, you need to understand that anger is not bad at all. It just has a bad reputation, but the truth is it’s trying to protect you from harm.
And because of that bad reputation, society has decided that being angry is bad for you. But in reality, there is a ton you can learn from the experience.
So, how does anger work?
Let’s say you are working with a difficult client or customer. This person is being rude or trying to take advantage of you and your business. It’s obvious you are getting upset, each time more and more as you interact with this person.
You will immediately notice in this case that the emotion is rising gradually. It’s not that you go into full rage mode at the first provocation. That’s not how we work.
Think of anger as the volume of your speakers. If you are paying close attention, you may discover it when the volume is at level one or maybe two. But most of the time we just bottle that because we have things to attend.
Postponing the emotion is the problem.
As that dial starts to go up, your performance and concentration go down because most of your consciousness is now trapped trying to deal with the emotion. And this turns into a self-sustaining-anger-loop-of-doom, where you just get angrier because you are angry.
But, I bet you already noticed the trick, you can avoid that loop by doing one simple thing: Listen to your anger.
All that is well and good, but how can you understand what your anger is trying to tell you?
As an introvert and peaceful person, I used to try to avoid dealing with my anger as much as possible. But once my business started growing and, life threw a couple of curve balls my way, it was just impossible to hide from it.
However, I picked up a simple technique that has helped me defuse a ton of tricky situations.
First of all, instead of avoiding my anger, now I try to stay close to it, to listen to my body and the signs that show when something is annoying me; usually, I start to tense up.
If you lean into the emotion, you will be able to pick it up way before it becomes a problem, and this is crucial because it will allow you to unpack the wisdom hidden within it.
Once you are noticing that something is bothering you, the next step is to look for the cause. In my example above, the reason is obvious, but you will find situations when it’s not as easy.
In those cases, I find helpful to create a brain dump and just write everything that is annoying me. From the most critical issues (deadlines, an emergency, etc.) to the most ridiculous (the neighbors are playing music that I don’t like, or that someone is knocking on my door).
It doesn’t matter if some of them sound silly, what matters is that you can now clearly see some of the causes. And once you have them in front of you, you can decide which are the most important and how you want to deal with them.
Returning to the example above, I may decide to catch a break from the conversation to create a better plan, or I may just decide that it’s not worth to work with someone rude to me and just break the relationship.
The key here is to take action. And the sooner you catch the anger, the easier it will be to find a clear and mindful solution towards the problem.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, taking action while being angry is a hundred times more challenging. But that’s a crucial step to release that anger and find solace.
That is a powerful feeling; it’s like taking off a massive weight off your back. You won’t be carrying those emotions anymore. You will be back to the fantastic self that can tackle any challenges life brings you.
So the next time you are starting to feel anger bubbling up, try to pause in your day to figure out the hidden message because addressing that issue will bring you back into alignment.