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Elizabeth Kenny

To change our anger we must work on focus on finding these roots and removing them from our lives.  There is no other real, lasting solution to our anger without this effort.  Any other approach leaves us under the influence of anger and keeps us imprisoned to its power.  

Focusing on the emotion of anger or surface issues will have some impact but will not give us the power over anger we desire to see.

Don't be distracted by the outward expression.  Find the inner feelings, beliefs and causes and you will be on a journey of freedom from anger.

Finding the roots of our anger is a process and will take time.  There is no one way to proceed but it must start at the point of our anger and then keep asking "why" until we begin to see the root cause(s).  Then we must deal with the causes.

For me, I wait until I get angry.  Then I go back after I've calmed down and think about what happened.

Here is a sort of crazy example from my life.

For years I would automatically become angry if someone awakened me suddenly.  When I realized I had real problems with anger anger, I started asking "why?".  

Why did this make me angry?  Why was I different from others who didn't get angry?  Why was I feeling threatened?  What experience(s) contributed to this?

Then I remembered a time in my teen years where my Dad would wake me up randomly at 5-6am so I could help him with something.  He didn't seem to care that I was sleep-deprived (being a typical teenager) and didn't belief in being up before 9am.

When he did that I hated it.  And I thought he was being a jerk (maybe he was, maybe he wasn't...).  So why does past experience matter?

Because I realized that I must have developed unconscious belief that anyone waking me up was insensitive and uncaring, like my Dad.  I "assumed" they were being mean and thoughtless.  
But what if everyone else wasn't like my dad? 

That was a new thought for me.  I realized that if I wanted to not be angry about this, I had to stop believing everyone was a jerk.  

From then on I decided to not assume the person's motivation was uncaring.  I allowed for the fact that they might not be a jerk for waking me up.

Over time I practiced being self-aware.  If I was woken up unexpectedly I would first check the person's motivation and then decide if it made sense to get angry.

Today, I am rarely angry when I'm awakened unexpectedly.  I changed my belief about others and it changed the threat I felt.  My self-awareness was helping me remove these anger roots and what helped feed them.

Now it's your turn.

Take some common pattern of anger that you experience.  

Then take some time alone and ask yourself good questions until you find the underlying root cause.   (If you can write down your answers in a notebook, it can really help you think it through.)  Here are some questions I've used:

  • Why am I really feeling angry?
  • Am I angry because I feel threatened?
  • If so, what threat am I feeling?
  • What fear might be behind this anger?
  • Do I doubt something about myself?  Or my self-image?  
  • Do I feel attacked?  Why?
  • Is there a past experience or group of experiences that contributed to this feeling?
  • What belief did I develop from those experiences?  Is that belief always true?  Am I assuming something?
  • What pain is behind this feeling of being threatened or attacked?

Look for painful experiences that you will easily remember.  They will give you insight into the fears, the doubts and the pain you are still holdin onto inside.

Be patient with yourself.  It may take a couple of days or a week to work through these questions about one incident of anger, but don't give up.  Ask others that know your past to give you suggestions.  Do the work and it will be worth it.  

Step by step, your anger roots can be identified.  But only if you are willing to work on it because you want to not be controlled by it. 

Then it's time to take the next step.