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E.I. Part 5A - Managing Anger

Guiding Question(s): Have you ever been so triggered by someone or something that you become engulfed in and swept away by your emotions and you can’t break free?

Key Takeaways: Keeping your emotions in check is the key to emotional well-being, but managing those emotions can be a full-time job. A life without emotions and passion is like food without seasoning. But too much seasoning can ruin your meal, and too much emotion or passion can ruin opportunities, relationships, and teams.


Have you ever been so triggered by someone or something that you become engulfed in and swept away by your emotions and you can’t break free?


Keeping your emotions in check is the key to emotional well-being, but managing those emotions can be a full-time job. A life without emotions and passion is like food without seasoning. But too much seasoning can ruin your meal, and too much emotion or passion can ruin opportunities, relationships, and teams.


The goal of emotional intelligence and self-mastery over our emotions is finding the right balance. One of the things that makes finding that balance difficult is that we often have very little or no control over when we are swept by emotion, nor over what emotion it will be.


But we can have some say in how long our emotions will last.


In Chapter 5 of his book, Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman writes, “The art of soothing ourselves is a fundamental life skill.” He also quotes Benjamin Franklin:


ANGER: Anger is never without reason, but seldom a good one.


Emotions come, but when we allow them to stay longer than needed, they can shade over to distressing extremes like anger, anxiety, or depression.


We want to be able to feel and respond to our emotions effectively; our emotions and passions can be leveraged to create action. But we can’t be slaves to our passions. We have to be in control.


Goleman also writes, “Of all the moods that people want to escape, rage seems to be the most difficult.”


Anger is energizing and it builds on itself. You can’t fight fire with fire because you just get a bigger fire. Anger triggers signals in your brain that send a rush throughout your body. When you are facing danger, this rush can be a good thing. But when you are in the middle of an intense practice or game, if this rush goes unchecked, it could lead to something terrible.


What makes these signals and this rush even more dangerous is that they can last for hours and even days, leaving you open to even more anger.


There are a few ways in which we can’t fight against our anger and rage.


1 - Challenge Your Thoughts When you feel anger coming on, take on and challenge the thoughts that have triggered you. - Did they really mean what they said? - Were they trying to hurt you? - Was your coach trying to embarrass you or call you out, or were they trying to help you?

Timing matters. The quicker you can challenge those thoughts, the better. The longer they linger, the deeper they sink in.


2 - Find a Distraction and Cool Down Another effective tool is finding a distraction. It’s hard to stay angry when you are having a good time. The trick is to get your anger to cool down to the point where you can have and enjoy a good time. Going off to be alone while cooling down, going for a long walk, doing active exercise, deep breathing, and going for a drive are all effective strategies to calm down and de-escalate yourself.


But distraction alone won’t be enough because it only stops the train of thought - it doesn’t address it. So after you have removed yourself and de-escalated, go through the process of challenging those negative thoughts so that you can find ways to work through them.


3 - Self-Awareness

Use self-awareness to catch your thoughts as they come. We know what triggers us and can choose how we want to respond to them. Remember, we can’t always control what angers us and to what degree, and it can be hard to control our actions after we become angered, but once we are aware that we are beginning to get angry, we can start the process of either challenging our thoughts, finding a distraction, or both.


When asked about addressing mental health issues, the great Kobe Bryant said:

“I think it’s important for athletes to own what they’re going through. It’s awareness. A lot of times, we try to tell young athletes that having those thoughts and feelings are weakness which causes them to feel some time of way about themselves and carry that around with them.”

He says instead, we should teach them to be aware of what is going on inside, to know it’s neither good nor bad, so you can choose to walk hand in hand with it or fight it.


Emotions come and go. How we choose to respond to them makes all the difference in the world.


DE-ESCALATION STRATEGIES

De-escalation means to decrease in extent, volume, or scope. It is a human behavior that is intended to prevent, stop, or reverse an escalation of conflict. Conflict is a part of relationships, and having the ability to de-escalate conflict, yourself, and others effectively so that it doesn’t grow unnecessarily is a valuable skill to learn and master.


In Part 2, I wrote about the 10-second rule and 90-second rules.


When your amygdala gets hijacked and you start to act on emotions rather than reason, follow the 10-second rule and the 90-second rule.


10-SECOND RULE

When our amygdala gets hijacked and we lose our mind, it takes 10 seconds for our body to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol helps you emotionally reset and regain your rational thinking.


Whether go into fight, flight, or freeze mode when you experience an amygdala hijack, take 10 seconds, breath, and then your mind and body will start returning back to normal.


90-SECOND RULE

Some research says that it only takes 90 seconds for your body to fully reset. If you can control or manage your actions and reactions for 90 seconds, you will fully be back to normal. Try to wait out the 90 seconds before doing something you might regret.


SOMETHING(s) TO THINK ABOUT


1 - When is a time this past week, season, or year when you got angered so much that it affected how you performed? Or, when is a time this past week, season, or year when a teammate, friend, or family member got angered so much that it affected how they acted or performed?


2 - What could you have done to help yourself or them become distracted so that they can follow the 10-second and 90-second rules?


3 - What is/are your biggest trigger(s)? Are you self-aware? Do you know what sets you off, when, and how?


4 - When you need to cool down, what do you do? How effective it is?

Much of this information was taken from the introduction of Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence. You can find more about the book here: Emotional Intelligence


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