Do you fly off the handle quicker than the average person? Maybe patience has never been one of your virtues …
Well, I’m right there with you.
But the good news is, there is a way to effectively manage your anger and start becoming that calm and collected person you’ve always wanted to be.
Are you wearing your C.A.P.E.?
CAPE is actually an acronym I developed to help your regulate your anger. It includes four different steps you need to take in order to keep your emotions in check.
So lets first start with why you need to ask this question… and that is because you need to break your habit of being an angry or emotionally charged person. Because yes, it is true that our instinctive emotional responses can become habits and we have to learn how to override them.
Do you remember the habit formula? One of it’s components is “reward” as shown here:
Habit(f) = (cue + routine + reward)repetition
If you want to break the habit of letting your angry emotions control you during conflict, you may want to change the reward. See, most people think the reward in a disagreement is winning, so they approach the disagreement with an “I’m right and you’re wrong” mentality. You might begin to associate being “verbally passionate” with being correct and therefore getting closer to winning.
But that mentality is not productive, so you have to change the reward.
Having a debate or a heated discussion is much more about gaining knowledge and a lot less about winning. You must change the reward from “winning” to “learning”. Because it is through acquiring knowledge that you can make more concise statements and come to better conclusions.
The second part of the habit formula you are going to change is the routine, and that is where C.A.P.E. comes in …
C is for Clear
In this instance, being clear is more about how you speak and less about what you say. See, when we get angry we have a tendency to let our angry dictate how we speak and the flow of our speech – we might change our tone of voice, get flustered and jump back and forth between points, and raise our voices. But when you focus on being clear by slowing down your speech, staying on topic, and speaking with an “indoor voice”, you are going to become better understood.
When you focus on being clear you are essentially focusing on slowing down. You are going to come off as less aggressive and angry because you are not going to act out in ways that project that image. Normally, when you get angry in a disagreement your brain interprets the anger as a threat and send out a flight or fright signal. It is that signal (the nor-epinephrine hormone) that leads to an increased heart rate and heavy breathing. These types of physiological responses interfere with your pre-frontal cortex, which is the part of the brain you want to utilize properly to make points and decisions during a disagreement. So when you focus on being clear and therefore slowing down, you will remain calm during the disagreement and be able to make better points.
A is for Accurate
Now unlike being clear, being accurate is about what you’re saying. Meaning, are you getting your point across in a way that makes sense? Unfortunately, when people allow their anger to control them, they start to use jargon that is familiar to them without considering that the person(s) they are speaking to does not understand the same jargon. Simple words are truly an over-looked way of getting your point across.
People also tend to use words when they don’t truly understand what those words mean. You’d be surprised by the number of disagreement caused as well as perpetuated because two people have different understandings of the meaning of a word. Don’t believe me? Grab a dictionary, open to any page, and find a word that you use on a frequent basis. Without looking at the definition, define it. Then see if you’re right. I was certainly surprised at my own lack of knowledge when I did this.
When you are accurate in your speech, you make it easier for the other person to understand you. By doing them this favour, they will now be more likely to stay calm, as well as speak clearly and accurately.
P is for Patient
When you are in a disagreement, there are 3 things you need to be patient with: yourself, the other person, and the amount of time it will take to get to the truth.the correct answer
Remember that there is no time limit to a disagreement; nobody is standing beside you with a stopwatch timing the progression of the discussion. That said, you don’t need to rush what your saying. Take the time you need to fully explain yourself and your feelings instead of assuming the other person can read your mind.
Oh, and if you don’t know how to answer a question or make a fully informed opinion on something, just say, “I’ll have to research that and I will get back to you with an answer.” Never feel pressured to come up with an answer immediately especially if you don’t feel fully informed.
2) The Other Person
Let them talk. Even if the other person is saying horrible and judgmental things toward you, just let them say it. Interrupting them is just going to make them angrier and probably more judgmental. Plus, if you don’t want to be interrupted when you talk, you should treat the other person with the same respect.
3) The Truth
A few hings. Firstly, not everything is black and white. No it may be impossible for you and the person who are arguing with to come to an agreement. That said, agree to disagree.
Secondly, and similarly to the first point, not all answers have been discovered. Sometimes you have to think of a disagreement as a progression towards the truth, expecting that you may not actually come to the truth during your disagreement.
Third, answers may change depending on the circumstance. People often disagree simply because they are explaining the same point but related to different circumstances. Think about it, you’ve probably been in an argument and at one point said “well in that case you have a point” or “in that scenario I’d agree with you”. Sometimes people don’t take the time to explain the circumstance they are referencing until the end of the argument. Avoid that problem by stating upfront what you know about a topic. This way, the other person will be able to understand your opinion from your point of view.
E is for Empathetic
Let’s do a simple breakdown: when we get angry it’s often because someone says or does something we disagree with. But did you know your words and actions are products of who you are?
Think about the opposing person’s opinion as something that makes sense based on who that person is; based on their experiences, up-bringing, and personality, their opinion probably makes perfect sense to them. Try to be empathetic to that. Maybe you’d have the exact same opinion if you were that person.
Empathy is not putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, rather, it is trying to become the other person long enough to understand where they are coming from. Let’s go through an example: A burglar is robbing a house when the cops show up. The burglar sees the cops and starts running away as fast as he can. You can be empathetic to the burglar because you realize he does not want to get caught by the police. But, you probably won’t agree with the burglar because you want justice in the situation.
Remember that just because you are empathetic to a situation, that does not mean you have to agree with it. But if you at least let somebody know that you understand where they are coming from, they are going to feel heard and they are going to be more likely to understand you as well.
So next time you feel anger boiling up inside you, use that as your cure to put on your cape! If you guys found this post helpful, don’t forget to share it with 1 friend. Your support is always appreciated!
As always, Happy Monday!
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Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional health advice.