Anger on Autopilot is a Recipe for Autodestruct

Is ANGER steering you or someone you care about off course? Maybe the ANGER is set on Autopilot!

Have you ever noticed there is really little one can control except how we choose to react?

While winging my way back from LA the other day I noticed mass anger, upset and frustration. There had been weather delays, crowds and a bit of chaos, none of which I have yet learned to control. After years of hard lessons in trying to control things out of my control, I've worked to train myself to "go with the flow" as they say, yet, after watching 100+ people board the plane; I can only assume that "control / no control" is not something everybody understands, yet.

I don't think the majority even realized they were behaving from a place of overwhelm. I say behaving because overwhelm isn't just an emotional response, it's a physical response. You can just see it in their faces and the way they move….

The feeling of overwhelm is part of the physical response to stress, together these two create the majority of the fight or flight response (no pun intended.) Fight or flight is the rapid surge of high levels of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol released in our body. These hormones affect reasoning and thinking. They are not bad guys though, at low levels, cortisol actually facilitates our mental functions.

Course correction may be required…

Since I'm was on a plane, I'll steal a flying analogy… Did you know when you fly, if you start out just one degree off course you end up in a totally different part of the world? It's the law of exponential growth.

You start at Airport X, you fly one degree off course, soon it becomes two degrees, than four, than eight off course…. Same idea holds true for emotions, they can infect not only you, but an entire group. A study by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis titled Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership states that "destructive emotions infects an entire group and inhibits its performance."

No one is immune to the contagion of stress. Yet, we can take steps to combat overwhelm, stress and anger when they arise. Take the time to understand the biology of your emotions. Train yourself to control your emotions instead of being controlled by them. Notice when you begin to feel overwhelmed, take action to calm yourself so you can maintain clear thinking when it is needed most.

A quick and in-the-moment fix for overwhelm is low, deep breathing. It's amazing what a few deep breaths will do to clear your thinking. Being able to think clearly under stress will increase your effectiveness as a leader. Awareness is key, many notice the physical sensation first, some call it a gut response, a knot in the stomach, a frog in your throat… and my favorite "turtleing," that sensation of your shoulders rising so high that your ears disappear.

Knowing that so much of the overwhelm response is physical, does not excuse us from not using our mental gifts to overcome an anger autopilot response. The physical response of emotion(s) e.g., anger, can easily overtake us. Again, awareness is key; anger can quickly be disabled by knowing it is a secondary emotion. One must have their feelings hurt, or be frightened or frustrated to get angry. Go beyond just noticing "I'm angry."

What are the impulses and intentions running through your mind? An impulse is usually that thought "I feel so (angry) (mad) (sad)… I could…." then, look to the intention behind it. What do you hope to accomplish? With every impulse and intention, the law of cause and effect comes along for the ride. "If I respond this way, what's likely to happen, next?"

Take some time to develop default solutions; "A better thing to do would be…." "If I try that, the benefits will be…." Under stress the typical first response is to revert back to old habits, no matter how unsuitable they are for addressing the new challenge.

As they just told me, "put your mask on first, then help others…." Take a few deep breaths to clear the mental cobwebs. To be a true leader one must have an awareness of and control over the autopilot button.

"If I lose my temper, you lose your head. Understand?" ~ Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland

Have a great day whatever your adventure
Sharon

 

p.s. Do you love the holidays, but hate those family gatherings? Are there family members that always seem to want to start a fight, or can’t let that embarrassing moment from 1971 go?

Then grab your opportunity to hear me live this Wednesday. I’m one of 35+ experts presenting in the Sweeter Holiday Summit! I’m so honored that Connie asked me to join her and the other experts to give you tools and tips for AMAZing success.

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On this (FR*EE) call I will share with you:
—How to keep your cool no matter the situation
—How to diffuse a situation quickly
—How to display a positive attitude
—How not to have people push your buttons
—How to separate the person from the problem

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