Friends and family who know me know I have a short temper. For decades I’ve tried to tamp it but have only found freedom from the frequency of my anger in recent years.
A popular strategy for dealing with anger is trying to identify the root cause – or at least a number of different therapists have told me this. But for me those types of exercises did little except make me angry again. One therapist even told me “if you can identify the triggers of your anger, you can avoid them.”
I felt that was one of the worst pieces of advice I had ever heard. The DMV angers me. How do I avoid the DMV? Traffic often angers me, how do I avoid traffic? The list goes on and on.
Then one day I heard that quote:
When something bad happens you have a problem; if you get angry about it you have two problems
With all the time I have invested in trying to curb or control my anger, this quote has helped me more than anything. So much so, that I’ve conditioned myself to say it whenever I’m frustrated. And for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, it helps! Sometimes I skip all emotion over a problem, and sometimes the anger dissolves itself within seconds.
Perhaps the logical side of my brain finds doubling my problems painful. After all, anger really is a problem you give yourself.
So acknowledge the anger, and remind yourself the quicker you get over it you’ll have one less problem.