Recently, a client expressed dismay about their anger. They hated that they lashed out at the people they loved. They wanted to know how to stop it. They thought that if they found the cause of their anger it would disappear. Rarely is that the case.

But it is the typical response. Most people still believe if they find the cause, they find the cure and that will magically stop being so angry. So they spend a lifetime searching for the cause thinking that holds the key to set them free when in fact they hold the key all the time. Its called their behavior.

What saddens me most is that people do not take responsibility for the way they behave believing that it is their feelings or the other person or some unknown cause that forces them to act out. Again, not the case.

Lashing out is a choice. I know it doesn’t feel that way. Yet, you could choose another way to express your anger. Again, I realize that when you are in the middle of it, it feels like you don’t have a choice. But you do. You always do.

Lashing out is inappropriate and unhealthy. Being angry does not give you permission to treat others, or yourself, poorly. It does tell you that you have some unresolved issues, feelings or beliefs. It shows you were you are expecting things to be different. It points to what you want to control or where you feel powerless. It says a lot about who you think you should be and how the world should be treating you.

When you lash out, you are advertising that you lack skill, lack awareness, lack self-discipline.

Anger is in of itself not good or bad. It is a feeling. Period. And the good news is we always have choice on what to do with our feelings; how to express them. We just need more awareness to catch our anger quicker, more self-discipline to stop our bad behavior mid-stream if need be, and more skill about how to process our anger so we can move through it with ease and grace.

The first step is awareness. What do you do when you are angry? What feelings come up? Thoughts? What do you feel you have a ‘right’ to do even thought it hurts you or another human being?

The second step is self-discipline. You must decide to stop hurting yourself or another. You must decide to stop yelling or hitting or shutting down or isolating or blaming, etc.

The third step is skill. You must practice different responses to anger. You must decide how you want to behave BEFORE you get angry again. Will you agree to take 10 breaths or walk around the block 5 times or excuse yourself to another room and scream into a pillow? Any of those behaviors are options that you can practice. And practice you must.

Otherwise, your anger will get the best of you. And that is so unattractive, unhealthy, unloving and just down right inappropriate.

What will you practice today?