In the past months I’ve been reading a lot of self-improvements books and consciously applying the lessons learned to myself. As a result of that I think I’ve become a better person but the biggest change is that I stopped getting angry or losing my temper.
I’m not going to tell you how losing our temper is bad or how it often makes our situation worse… because you guys already know that. I’m going to tell you how I reigned mine in and it’s not from any habits like counting 1-10 before I lose my cool. It’s just a realisation. A perspective change.
How? I’ll consolidate my lessons in this article because they mostly come not from one single book but a variety of books I’ve read. This is separated into two parts. The first part is about how losing our temper makes us look. The second is the biggest realisation of all that will change your perspective on everything.
- HOW LOSING OUR TEMPER MAKES US LOOK
Insecure, lack of self-control and a bully. Yes that’s how losing our temper makes us look. Why is it important to not look like this?
Insecurity – Confidence breeds confidence. If we want an investor to invest in us, an employer to hire us or a team to follow us, we need to show confidence. Losing our temper often offends people around us and as a result erodes the confidence people have in us. So it doesn’t matter how many times we tell people about being confident or talk loudly… once we lose our temper, we come off insecure because only insecure people need to throw their weight around .
Lack of self-control – People want to invest in, follow or even hang out with disciplined people. Losing our tempers shows people that we don’t even have control of ourselves. How can we expect people to believe we have the ability to control a situation when we can’t even control ourselves.
Bullies – This falls back into insecurity. Have you ever seen a TV show or cartoon that depicts a bully in school as someone who actually bullies because he’s insecure about himself? Yep. Coming off insecure is the most unattractive thing that anyone can be. So don’t. Don’t be insecure and don’t bully.
That’s not to say we should never ever lose our temper. Sometimes we should but when we do it shouldn’t be a decision led by an emotional decision but a calculated one that you think will strategically improve your situation. Don’t do this too often though because the more you pull this card the less effective it becomes and the more insecure you look.
2. HOW IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU
Think about the times you’ve lost your cool once. It’s normally a situation where you feel someone has mistreated you and you say things like “HOW CAN YOU TALK TO ME LIKE THAT?” or “I’M NOT GOING TO PUT UP WITH THIS SHIT”.
What do you notice about responses like this? Notice that in these self-defence statements, the word “I” or “Me” come up. A big source of our anger is often our own ego. We think someone has mistreated us and we need to stand up for ourselves and fight back. Here’s the perspective that is going to change your life.
IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU. IT IS NEVER ABOUT YOU. It is about a potentially infinite range of reasons that is too complicated for you to even think about.
When someone bumps you hard on the shoulder unapologetically when you’re on the bus or MRT, is it about you?
No it’s not about you. Maybe it’s because this person was having a bad day and he’s in a foul mood, maybe it was an accident. Who knows?
When your boss shouts at you because you didn’t do something right is it about you?
No it’s not. Maybe he shouts at you because he’s insecure, maybe he’s had a tough upbringing where shouting and showing dominance is the way to get things he wants or maybe he just doesn’t know how else to manage a team.
We have to resist the temptation to believe that these things that hurt our ego is about us. And when we come to this realisation that our ego is not under attack, it’s normally a lot easier to let it go and not get angry. Not getting angry is half the battle won. Someone can only hurt you if you let them hurt you and if someone makes you angry, they’ve won.
I’ve been practising these principles in the past 6 months. It hasn’t been easy though. I am by nature an emotional and hot-tempered person so I sometimes still catch myself losing it but my wife has seen a huge improvement in me. Things that used to rile me up no longer have an effect on me. Attacks that people do on me just bounce off me without angering me or even having me think about it. Because I realise… it’s not about me and that losing my temper or getting angry about something just hurts myself.