Kendall L. Stewart, M.D.
Why are leaders hesitant to do this?
Human feelings, including anger, are complicated. They appear to arise from certain core beliefs or convictions people hold about themselves. However these core beliefs arise, they are hard to recognize because they have been buried under layers of psychological defenses, feelings and thoughts. And they have been reinforced countless times by behaviors that buttress them. The big three core beliefs that give rise to anger are, “I am helpless, I am hopeless,” or “I am worthless.” Predictably, angry people are strongly disinclined to admit this. Just suggest such a possibility and watch how angry they become.
What is the case for doing it anyway?
If your deepest convictions about yourself are the origins of how you feel, think and behave, their importance is obvious—if you want to change how you think, feel and behave. If anger is a problem in your life and you intend to diminish the power it wields over you, identifying its source deserves your sustained attention.
How can you do it?
- Accept the premise that your anger comes from within you. It’s not in the water or the food or the air. Are you going to keep on insisting that your anger is not your problem? Are you going to continue to permit it to hold you hostage?
- Work backwards. In the moments before your last angry outburst, you experienced certain thoughts and feelings. What were they? These are not easy to recall because they were quickly incinerated by your blind rage.
- Get some help. Most leaders with an anger problem cannot figure this complicated stuff out by themselves. Most leaders with an anger problem don’t believe they have a problem. This, naturally, makes figuring out the problem even harder.
What core beliefs give rise to your anger? How did you acquire that insight?