How to Stay Calm with a Person Who Triggers Anger in You
by Erika Slater
Is there someone in your life you live with, or you know, that just seems to bring out the worst in you?
Your day seems to be going perfectly, you’re feeling happy and positive, carefree, but then see them coming down the aisle heading your way, or their number pops up on your phone, and your heart sinks. You have to make the split-second decision of “fight or flight.” You know any interaction with them is going to press your anger buttons and lead to nothing good!
Almost everyone has had this type of experience in their lives. There are certain individuals who can infuriate us beyond belief and we wish we could just remain calm and not let them wreck our days.
Does this sound familiar?
If this person is a parent – and this is more frequent than you think – then avoidance can be difficult, although not impossible. If it’s a spouse then you’ve a larger problem to confront and this article isn’t going to provide much help outside the obvious of seeking couple therapy.
WHAT’S GOING ON TO PRESS YOUR ANGER BUTTONS?
There are many different types of anger and reasons why people lose their cool.
But there’s a common element at the root of most anger: Fear and insecurity!
You see most anger is provoked because individuals become frightened, or feel insecure around certain people, or in certain situations.
Anger is a secondary emotion usually preceded by fear and insecurity, which often times manifests itself as stress, intimidation, frustration, low self-esteem or feelings of inferiority.
These attributes evolve into discomfort when the individual feels they’ve little or no control over themselves, others, or the environment around them.
Note: Anger can also be an emotion caused when you recognize somebody doing something bad to an helpless individual, or a cause you have passion about such as somebody being inhumane to an animal, etc. This is a different category of anger not really covered here other than saying in most instances remaining calm is always better than losing your temper, as under those conditions you’re almost always going to make a poor decision, and instead of helping… end up hindering.
Most complex emotions preceding anger are those experienced and learned in childhood: rejection, shame, rage, doubt, fear and inferiority.
Anger is a learned emotion and what ‘makes’ you angry depends on how you experienced situations in the past. If you were taught anger is a “bad” emotion to experience, you might develop anger avoidance, become passive in the face of confrontation, or learn to believe your very existence is “bad” whenever you get angry.
Being around certain individuals can serve as a catalyst for past memories, and ways of responding, as they serve as triggers to you feeling like you’re losing control.
So, what are techniques and ways to stay calm with these people?
STAYING CALM WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE:
In the workplace, if more than one person, including co-workers and your manger, comment about your general hostility then some sessions on anger management may be needed. But in my experience, its more common for hostility to be focused on an individual than with general anger situations where everybody sets off your rants. There’s zero tolerance for anger in the workplace these days. So, not dealing with it isn’t an option. See the resource section below for link to a Mayo Clinic article on Anger Management.
First, I’m not going to suggest there’s a silver bullet technique for replacing your feeling of disgust or dismay whenever you have contact with this short-list of people who push your hot buttons!
After all these people may be pushing different buttons. So, there’s some work for you to do in determining how to handle each encounter. The fact is they may be a boss or co-worker or family member.
You have to first learn why certain individuals have the ability to bring out the worst in you.
Once you do this, you can identify them as catalysts, as well as recognizing they’ve access to your triggers – what sets you off.
Often times, you give people too much knowledge for what your triggers are, and they can use this information to trigger your anger on purpose.
This serves as their way of exerting control over you.
Interestingly, they don’t really have control over you, rather you’ve given them a sense of control!
Behaving the same destructive way and expecting different, positive results around individuals who have the ability to get under your skin is just insane. Once you identify certain individuals have the ability to provoke you, it’s important to change your way of thinking around them.
Once you identify and accept, it’s time to recreate!
You only have control over the present. You also need to recognize you’re in total control to think and feel whatever you want. Your thoughts lead to feelings which if the feeling is of anger… you’re in trouble.
If you decide to not let another person’s words or attitude bother you, or infuriate you, especially when they do it on purpose, they’ll recognize the power they perceived to have over you wasn’t real, and eventually they won’t want to play the game any longer… because you’re no fun anymore.
Of course, there are folks you just can’t stand to interact with, and they may not even be aware they cause your brain to fry whenever you have to contact them. Just their attitude or personality towards you or others makes you want to drop the guillotine on them!
Whenever you can, avoid these people. Life is just too short and you get to pick the people you interact with.
If you can’t avoid them because you work with them, or they’re close family then restrict your interactions with them as much as you can. Smile sweetly as you pass them by in the hall, or use the ole “Sorry I have to rush and leave to make my appointment to have my eyeball pierced by a red-hot needle!” Make your excuse a bit more plausible though… unless mine is true for you.
The way to stay calm with these folks is to practice techniques where you get to stay in total control.
Reclaiming your emotions with difficult people is easier said than done… I know.
But the alternative is to give control of your emotions to somebody else, and that’s just not a good long-term strategy for your own piece of mind.
Mindfulness, meditation and hypnosis all offer a path to controlling your thoughts in the present and avoiding the triggers of others to get you all steamed up. See resource section below for a link to our mindfulness series of articles. If you want to consider working directly with me on staying more calm in stressful situations, through my online and in-office sessions, then check out my Special Hypnosis Services Programs.
Hypnosis especially, is a helpful therapy to replace triggers that cause anger with triggering feelings of a calming nature. As hypnosis works on your unconscious mind where those triggers are present, then a hypnotherapist can work on replacing thoughts that trigger anger feelings to thoughts that trigger feelings of calmness.
There are people in your life who either intentionally or just because of who they are and their attitude, always press your anger button. Because it’s not pretty and you don’t like this side of yourself, you need to do something about it.
In those instances where you can avoid or limit interaction with them, the better. This is a short-term solution to keep you “out of trouble” so to speak. But in a way, they still have control over you by being able to dictate your interactions.
The longer-term solution is to change the way you respond to them so they don’t bother you so much. Hypnosis lets you develop your inner resources to overcome the emotions triggered by these individuals.
Check out this self-hypnosis audio session that offers help in staying calm with a person and reclaiming your emotions >>>
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO HELP YOU STAY CALM:
Controlling Anger Before It Controls You – APA >>>
Introduction to Mindfulness – 5 Part Series – Free At Last Hypnosis >>>
Anger Management: 10 Tips to Tame Your Temper – Mayo Clinic >>>
Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>
Free At Last Hypnosis
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