“Not the fastest horse can catch a word spoken in anger.”
~Chinese Proverb

The other day I was angry. It doesn’t matter why or at what. It doesn’t matter at whom. I was angry and I felt justified in my anger, which can be a dangerous place for me to be.

I aim to be my best self and to come from my best intentions as often as possible. When I’m angry, I’m not so good at that. I suppose no one is. When I’m angry, and feeling justified in my anger, I’m more likely to blurt out something I may regret.

And that is something I don’t want to do.

It’s taken me a long time to give myself permission to be angry. Perhaps like many people with intense religious childhoods (or just intense childhoods…or just childhoods), I was taught not to be angry. I was, in many ways, taught not to have needs and definitely not to express them. I find this “emotionally restrictive upbringing” in many of my clients’ stories as well. So, it’s taken me a long time to learn that it is okay to be angry…and even good to be angry. I share this with my clients as well. Anger can teach us things. Anger can provide information. Anger lets us know when our boundaries have been crossed or when something really isn’t okay with or for us.

It’s okay and even good to feel anger, and it’s powerful and important to learn to handle it and express it in constructive ways, but it very rarely, if ever, is helpful and effective to blurt our thoughts and reactions when we’re in the midst of our anger. We’re most likely not thinking clearly, and we most likely will speak words that we may regret once we’ve cooled off a bit.

I coach my clients to Recognize their anger, to Allow and Accept their anger, to Investigate their anger so that they can learn more about and from it, and then to Nurture and take care of themselves so that they can ease their anger and rough feelings. (This is the RAIN process that meditation teacher Tara Brach shares.) And to do their best to not speak words in the midst of their anger that they will regret later.

How have you learned to learn from you anger whilst also, perhaps, holding your tongue?
Please leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

To learn more about RAIN and how to not speak words in anger, contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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