I have a confession to make!
For the longest time, anger has been my drug of choice.
This is how I have managed the addiction.
For the longest time, anger was my go to emotion. And it took an in-depth discussion with a coach to realise that I was indeed addicted to the emotion and to realise the simple reason why that was the case.
Since knowledge is power, I was able to let go of that habit… Well for the most part.
You see, in the past, whenever I felt uneasy, uncomfortable, vulnerable (read insecure), I would move to protect myself. And what better way to feel strong and confident than to feel ANGRY!
Let me explain.
If you have been following me for a while you know that I often refer to
The 6 Human Needs
and that the theory is that those needs drive every decision we make. (For more info click here)
Here are the 6 human needs:
While the first 4 needs are the basic needs and we meet those needs everyday no matter what, the last 2 are the needs of the spirits. Meet those needs on a regular basis and you will feel fulfilled.
We all have a need or two that are driving our life. We will do anything to meet those needs, positively or negatively. Yes, like a child who wants the attention of a parent and if being ignored for too long, will do something naughty or throw a tantrum, so that he gets the attention he craves even if it is in a negative way.
In my case, like many people, I was driven by the need for significance and the need for certainty. So I would seek control in every aspects of my life and I would always insist on a very important tittle. Now, don’t get me wrong, it made me a reliable person who worked hard at achieving her goals (and I succeeded) and who could command respect from others.
However, it was … exhausting, because I could not control everything all the time, because everything had to be PERFECT. And since I could only feel significant when everything was PERFECT, needless to say I was not fulfilling that need very often…
The theory goes that you will find a way to meet those needs EVERY DAY.
That’s when ANGER comes along.
As long as you have the energy and your life is relatively simple, you can have the illusion that you are in control. But it is a very narrow life, to say the least.
More often than not, I would not be in a situation where I could meet my primary needs for security/certainty and significance.
But when you are angry, it all changes.
Suddenly, when you are angry and you let fly, you are CERTAIN you are right AND you are IMPORTANT/SIGNIFICANT because you are right and THEY (all of them) are wrong…. In addition, when you are angry, you CONNECT with the person you are angry with, or with your own emotion and yourself, and let’s be honest, you do get a high level of UNCERTAINTY because there are many things that can go NOT the way you wanted it to go…
Here you have it, if one action meets 3 or more of your needs at high level of intensity, you can not help it but be addicted.
In addition, For me and for a lot of people, being angry is a way to feel strong and to protect ourself.
Double hit! Every time!
When I realised that little fact, I worked at meeting my needs in a different, more positive way and for the most part I succeeded. I know now that when I feel angry, I need to find out what is making me feel insecure and change that. I have also move to change my primary need to connection/love. And again to make sure I meet that need in a positive way daily.
But I could not have done all that only based on an “Aha” moment of clarity.
I needed to understand the “why?” Not the why I was addicted to that situation, because quite frankly it was obvious.
But the “why” I wanted to change the situation. What was the cost of that addiction in my life? Short term, long term? and if I did not change that situation what would be the consequences in the long term?
Let’s just say that the answers were not palatable. So, armed with the knowledge that I had a problem and a very strong motivation to change my future, I was able to let go of that emotion!
Was it a lot of work?
Actually, no. Once I defined a Why I wanted to change? creating a clear image in my head, the change took but just a moment. In the end, it was a case of remembering my addiction and finding new positive ways to address those underlying feelings.
It is not to say that Anger as an emotion is not valid. Any emotion is valid in itself, but not when it comes to mask another emotion. Focus on your original emotion.
Because no emotion is bad in itself.
Despite popular belief, an emotion is just a thought in your mind and unless you take action and maintain it, an emotion lasts 90 seconds.
However we tend to attach a story to an emotion. Usually based on our past experiences and so we build upon that initial emotion. And little by little, we create monsters where there shouldn’t be any.
So, let them go. Don’t react and don’t act… Just wait for 90 seconds and sit still….
Once I realised that I was addicted to anger, I needed to make some massive changes in myself in order to change my reactions to certain situations that were sure to trigger my sense of insecurity.
IF you want to change a situation, you need to take MASSIVE action. There is no other way around it.
I so often meet people and after a discussion, they are surprised to see that there is a simple explanation to their dilemma. But most often unless they are asked and challenged to, they are not willing to take action. They know the problem but they are not prepared to make the necessary changes to break that habit.
Working with a coach, you are challenged to take action.
And I help my clients to regain their confidence and their control over their emotions.
If you have any questions, or if you want to explore if you can let go of an ” emotional addiction”, then don’t hesitate to contact me via e-mail (email@example.com) or visit our website (www.joellespractice.com) for more info.