How can one find the right words to rule and control anger? Is there a recipe we can use when we are upset about something to express that feeling eloquently and successfully change the course of the negative events? Should we act instinctively and lash out our anger at the person in front of us, making everybody angry and digging a deeper hole for ourselves? Or should we withdraw within ourselves and slowly brew in our own self-destructive anger, saying nothing, resolving nothing, only perpetuating a bad situation and making it a hundred times worse?
Are there better options than to say nothing and implode or to say the first thing that comes to mind and explode outwardly? Continue reading and you will consider a third option.
Option 1: Lash out/Turn the anger outward
If you listen to the first impulse to immediately and loudly lash out your frustrations, the likely result will be that you will make everybody angry and escalate the conflict. This leads to no resolution of the initial problem.
Option 2: Keep quiet/Turn the anger inward
When a negative event happens, you may instinctively sulk and withdraw within yourself, nursing your emotional wound while becoming increasingly angry and resentful inside.
Eventually, under the pressure of this growing resentment, you will be pushed into some kind of self-destructive behavior. That may mean exploding in front of your boss or quitting your job in defiance, or breaking up a relationship on an impulse, or picking yourself up and leaving without having any clear plan of what you might do subsequently.
One of the most common feelings people have when faced with a negative event is feeling hopeless. Saying nothing and turning the anger inward will increase the feeling of hopelessness even more.
The reality is that you always have a voice and you always have a recourse, but only if you know how to manage your emotions and chose your words carefully.
Option 3: Speak your mind/Manage your emotions
If a negative event happens, instead of opening your mouth in anger and saying anything and everything that comes to mind, hold your thought for a moment. Take that angry monologue and consider that your "first draft." Spoken aloud, the "first draft" will likely get you in trouble. Not saying anything, will likely make you withdraw in anger. But when you control your emotions, you start thinking of a better, more civil version of the "first draft," and will arrive at a "second draft."
Even the "second draft" of your angry thoughts is usually only roughly worded and lacks tact and polish. If you speak it aloud, you may not trigger an explosive conflict, but you will likely fail to resolve the negative event satisfactorily. Probably the effects will be only moderately satisfying.
But if you really want to appear cool and in control and want to prompt a better resolution regarding the negative event, take a few more seconds and think of a "third-draft" version of what you want to say.
You can only get at this level by mastering your emotions. In your mind practice going quickly over the first instinctive draft and the second slightly more polished draft of what you have to say. Then come up with the last draft--the most carefully chosen words and the most diplomatic way to voice them. Arriving at and speaking aloud the third and final draft will help you appear thoughtful and will more likely resolve the negative event favorably.
With practice, you will see that your mind will efficiently go through the different revisions and will provide you with a surprisingly fast and good final draft almost automatically.
Of course, there are never guaranteed outcomes. Life is not that simple. But we can greatly increase the chances of a favorable resolution and greatly reduce the probability of serious collateral damage if we have a logical framework in mind. I hope this discussion and the diagrams provided will give you that framework and reference point. The rest is up to you.
Good luck in trying it out! And don’t forget to leave a comment or send an e-mail to let me know how it worked.