The Secret Side of Anger

Friday, May 28, 2010
By Sara Moore


Janet Pfeiffer, author of The Secret Side of Anger, has some great tips for reducing anger to make both your personal and professional life better.

According to Pfeiffer, the belief that other people or situations have the ability to make us angry is a common misconception. “No individual or event has the power to make you mad. Anger is actually a choice, one that occurs depending on that person’s perception (thought). What we choose to think about an experience we’re having or the person we’re involved with determines how we feel. For instance, if someone criticizes you, you can think ‘She’s so mean!’ Or, you can choose, ‘How unfortunate someone could be so insensitive.’ The former evokes anger, the latter, sadness. The truth behind her actions matters little. You only need to concern yourself with how you choose to perceive her and allow her behavior to affect you.”

Pfeiffer states that anger is not inherently negative, but an important emotion that can be used as a motivating force to bring about positive change. “If I witness an injustice in society, my anger can serve as a propellant to create new laws. Anger becomes a negative force when it is used in a destructive manner, either to hurt one’s self, another or to damage property. Unresolved anger leads to resentment and bitterness and can damage one’s relationships, health, careers, and overall enjoyment of life.”

“Anger, by definition, is a feeling of distress brought about by feelings of helplessness or powerlessness,” she said. “People create their own feelings of being victimized because they feel as though others are controlling them. We need to understand that power and control come from within. Each individual is responsible for choosing their own thoughts. No one else controls that. From there, everything else flows: thoughts generate emotion and we act out what we feel. Everything in this equation is about personal responsibility. A victim is one without power. Regaining our personal power eliminates feelings of helplessness and anger. Others no longer have the ability to push our buttons and make us mad.”

Tips to Reduce Anger:

Put everything into perspective
Ask yourself if the situation is worth getting upset about. If not, let it go. If it is important to identify what needs to change and create a plan to accomplish that. Switch your focus (thought) from the problem (negative) to the solution (positive).

The moment you feel anger well up inside you, remember SWaT: Stop, Walk and Talk
Stop what you are doing. This prevents the situation from escalating.
Next, walk away. Creating distance allows you to calm down and cool off. “Out of sight, out of mind.”
Third, talk yourself calm. Discuss your feelings and situation with a neutral party, seeking deeper understanding and guidance. If no one is available, talk to yourself. Repeat calming statements such as “I am fine. I am calm. I can handle this is an intelligent and rational manner.”

Create a Peace Plan
These are daily activities to engage in that will naturally reduce your levels of anger. Some of my favorites are aerobic exercise, prayer, meditation, music, nature and my dogs. Each of these naturally replaces stress and anger with feelings of peace and serenity.

Breathe deeply or smile
Even the simple acts such as deep breathing or smiling will help alleviate anger.

Visit for more information on Janet Pfeiffer or The Secret Side of Anger.

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