Control Your Anger By Practicing Stoicism in 5 Steps
For as long as there have been people, they’ve been doing wrong things because they were angry. Anger is easy. It can feel good.
The great Stoic philosophers wrote about dealing with their temperament more than any philosophical school.
For as long as there have been people, they’ve been trying to manage their anger issues. What we have below are some proven strategies to tame our temper.
1. Identify The Cost Of Your Anger
First, we urge you to search online what anger does to people. Embarrassing, right? Do you think you look so different in your fits of anger?
What has anger cost you? Think of specific incidents in which you turned to anger. When you took personal offence for something, you said something out of anger and a business blew up. What relationship deteriorated because of something you did in anger?
When costs are exposed, we are less likely to give in to anger.
Also See: 5 Stoicism Practices
2. Identify What Is In Your Control Versus What Isn’t
There were many reasons for Anne Frank to be angry. She had had to leave her friends in Germany and her friends in Amsterdam. She had been subjected to discrimination and persecution. Her family had lost her business. Now they were all huddled together in a small attic where they couldn’t make noise, could barely move and were constantly at risk of death from exposure or illness.
However, she wrote in her diary on May 3, 1944: “They have given me a lot: a happy nature, a lot of joy and strength. Every day I feel like I am developing internally. Why, then, should I be desperate?
This is the essence of what the Stoics spoke: to make the distinction between what is under our control and what is not. We do not control what happens around us: the world at war, the details of our birth, the vagaries of our life situation, that some person is awful to us, or that someone harmed us. We have the power to control how we respond. We have the power to control who we are on the inside. We have the power to focus on all the gifts that have been given to us.
3. Don’t Be Mad In Advance
There is a balance in stoicism between awareness and anxiety. Stoics want you to be prepared for an uncertain and often dangerous future, but somehow not worry about it at the same time. They want you to consider all the possibilities… and know that many of those possibilities won’t be good. How exactly is that supposed to work?
The point is that the future is out of our control. It is uncertain, and also vast. We have to be aware of that, yes, but we don’t need to suffer, particularly not beforehand. Because we have a lot of time to prepare, and also a lot of present open to us as well.
Also Worth a Look: 5 Easy Ways to Learn Stoicism
4. Let Go Of The Past
It’s easy to want to look back at the past. To reflect on what happened. To blame someone. To enjoy the nostalgia. To think wistfully of what could have been. Let them be wounds from our childhood. Maybe someone didn’t treat us well. Or we experience something terrible. Either our parents were too busy or too critical or too stuck dealing with their own problems to be what we needed. These raw points shape the decisions we make and the actions we take, even if we are not always aware of that fact. We have to let them go. Because the past is dead. it is lost. Now, all we have left is the present and, if we are lucky, the future.
We must take advantage of today. The here and now. We must give everything we have. No matter what has happened before, whose fault it was, how much pain it caused us, what we are sorry for, all we can do is move on.
Drop the old stories. If you look back, you enter a wall, or worse, right on a cliff.
Quick Read: 5 Myths About Stoicism
5. Meditate On Your Insignificance
The Stoics believed that there was ego in anger. There’s selfishness. There’s a belief that we are so important, that everything has to go our way, that they do not realize who you are.
That was why Marcus Aurelius repeatedly reminded himself to take the view from above. The Stoics first called this sympathy, which we think is so important that we actually made a medallion of it, the idea that we are all part of a larger whole. It is both a reminder of our greatness and our smallness, our insignificance, and our essentiality. It’s about letting ourselves feel small to gain strength through unity with the whole, it is surrendering to its insignificance to realize our meaning. It is empowering.
Everything about today’s culture disagrees with that understanding. The normalization of the toxic ego. You have to fight it. And you fight against it by looking at nature, looking away so that you cannot focus on the small and trivial matters before you, by immersing yourself in something bigger.
To Enjoy: 5 Principal of Stoicism
If you are exposed to pressure daily, it certainly isn’t good for you, but it can help you improve your anger control skills. Divert the negative energy that accumulates in you during the day into something positive and constructive. Do sports, take your dog for long walks, play with your children, do gardening, or some other hobby that will help you convert the negative energy into positive and do something good for yourself and others.
Try these exercises the next time you are angry. Remember that you can’t be angry and grateful simultaneously. Look for that good, in everything you do. Because it is there.