Our brains are designed to take in stimuli from the world around us and respond accordingly. Our most basic response to our environment is subconscious, such as when you are walking down the street and 'know' to jump out of the way of an approaching truck without even thinking. In situations... that aren't life-or-death scenarios, our brain recognizes we have time to react and vets our responses through higher, more sophisticated parts of our brains.
If we consciously and deliberately respond with extreme anger to situations that are not life-or-death scenarios, our brains 'learn' that response pattern and over time begin subconsciously sending our thoughts down the path of anger. If we experience a traumatic event that instills in us many negative feelings and gives us a 'short fuse', through repetition and time our brain learns our anger response pattern and starts initiating it subconsciously.
Just like the brain learns to be angry, we can train our brains to unlearn anger. If we find ourselves always going down the road to anger, we can teach our brains through repetition that our anger response is wildly exaggerated and needs to be toned down. This can be accomplished by spending time analyzing every situation that makes us unnecessarily angry. We should ask ourselves questions like:
• What occurred that made me so mad?
• Why did this make me so angry?
• What did I fear would occur due to this situation?
• What usefulness did my anger response have in this situation?
• Did my anger effect any positive change in the situation?
• If I could do it all over again, how would I have responded?
By doing this, we are showing our brains that the anger response it is generating is incongruous with the situation and is not productive (and, actually, harmful). Through repetition, the brain learns to recognize the fault in its ways and will modulate itself so as to not respond with such anger in the future.
Do you find yourself often getting angry over inconsequential things? In the video below I explain how our minds become chronically angry, and how we can retrain our anger.
By: Zach Good
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