Dear Vitamin C –
Lately I have been under a lot of stress (more than the usual) and I guess I am not dealing with it so well. My wife, kids and co-workers have been complaining that I easily and suddenly get angry, which makes me hard to be around. At first I couldn’t see it but now I do – I just don’t know how to change it. Do you have any tools to help me manage my sudden anger reactions?
Dear Triggered –
As you know, awareness is the first step toward change so you are already on your way. There are a couple of things you can do to choose another way of reacting rather than anger. The first is to notice your body’s response when you are being triggered. Does your heart start racing? Are you tensing up? Sweating? The more time you spend assessing and not reacting the better.
After taking a physical assessment take an emotional assessment asking Why Am I Triggered? (Remember the acronym WAIT.) There are many reasons that one gets triggered including: (i) fear, (ii) your values aren’t being honored, (iii) you don’t feel that the other person has your back, or (iv) you don’t feel valued (i.e., you feel dismissed).
Once you identify the source of your rising anger you can check out your perception with the other person For example, you might ask your spouse: “When you said XYZ it made me wonder if you were just blowing me off. Was that your intent?” Or, you might ask yourself, is there something that I fear? Is that why I am getting angry? By being curious rather than reacting you open up the opportunity for understanding yourself and for better communication with those around you.
Yours – Vitamin C