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My relationship with Anger and the One Easy thing I learned to manage it

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Anger has always been a close friend of mine.

Soccer

For years, I would get angry playing soccer because I was looking for perfection – the best pass, move, if someone made a bad decisions, we lost the ball or someone missed an interception, I would start yelling and complaining.

I recall at least 2 instants where I had fights with my best friends on the soccer pitch because I couldn’t control my anger.

I also realised a lot of people get angry playing soccer. A friend who arranges soccer matches for a living explained to me it was a way out for their stress in life. But then he jokingly said those people should be paying the guys that they let their anger at instead of him.

Family

I haven’t talked to my father since I was a teenager and the last impression I had was him punching the wall in our house. So maybe Anger was more than a friend, it is actually a brother. I was born with it.

Childhood bullying

As I became older, I retaliated a lot when I feel I am offended. After a lot of self reflection, I feel this is probably because I was bullied a lot when I was younger and I didn’t do anything. So now that I am older and feeling more confident about myself, I felt I had to retaliate ferociously because it was a way to justify myself and protect my social status. If someone reacted with more aggression, I would retreat or just go crazy because I would lose my emotions. This is still a demon I battle with everyday.

Work

Years earlier, I experienced first hand someone I respected at work once, scolding and yelling at people all the time so I thought that was a way to succeed or part of what it takes.

It was easy to get angry in banking because it was a way to show superiority or release stress to subordinates or people you think you have bargaining power over.

Driving

It is always easy to get angry with taxi drivers because they are not the most polite people in the world.

In HK, there is also this habit of getting as close to the vehicle in front as possible to stop another vehicle from cutting in, to the extent we would run risk of crushing into the car in front or the one cutting in. I have seen accidents due to this. It is clearly a social value we uphold because jumping the line is not right and we are willing to put ourselves on the line for it. However, it also blinds us from considering the other vehicle may have just missed the chance to cut in earlier. 

What I realised… 

Initially, I thought letting my anger out would calm me down but it didn’t obviously. I didn’t know why I think that because if it is as simple as that then everyone would just start yelling at each other and all of our problems would be solved.

In another way, I was being a jerk as I thought I could make myself feel better by making others feel worse but obviously that didn’t work too. In fact, it made me feel worse because I realised I was being a jerk or I would get distracted thinking of ways so I could make a better come back next time.

It usually takes me a couple of days to knock off the bad feeling of an argument and my productivity gets affected significantly. However, if I had just let go and not go in for the fight, I realised my recovery is much faster. And being an entrepreneur now, this is important because I don’t want anything to cost or distract my time and energy.

So the question is how do I let go?

This is when I somehow stumbled upon this video.

It made me realise that I should switch my awareness to something else when I could foresee something could lead me to feeling angry. And doing that is easy because we are so used to getting distracted like just take out our phone and play with it, watch a Youtube or browse social media. 

Is it being confident or just ego?

I feel angry because I let my insecurity and fear take over my awareness. And that happens because I have an ego that I was not addressing. For me, I believe I had an ego when my goals were not clear and I was actually denying it. Life feels negative and I needed justifications and excuses so it was easy to get angry.

To feel confident meant setting a clear goal, which takes more time than people think because you need time to understand yourself, narrow down what motivates you and in the end, what truly makes you happy. After that, it is about setting a clear path to reaching that goal. Then you will know and feel that each day is just a journey towards that goal. When everything is so clear and specific, you can be really confident and no longer let ego or anger get you.

After getting to this stage, I also understand that in the end, everyone is just trying to do the best for themselves. There is no difference if they are treating people well or not. Once I understood this, I felt I am no longer so easily upset because I could understand the person’s motivation in doing things that I found offensive and vice versa. We cannot blame anyone who is just trying to improve their lives. So in the end, it is all just your mind and how you interpret the events around you. 

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