The following question is actually a "compilation" of questions I've received from readers:
"Bob, I can see where so much of "Winning Without Intimidation" works for those who, when in conflict with another, can control themselves the way you suggest. But what about those of us who, for example, have a temper that cannot be controlled because it's just a part of our basic makeup and we cannot change it?"
Thank you for writing. I so appreciate your question because, just by asking, it shows you have a desire to change even though, right now, it may seem like a virtual impossibility. Please don't worry. It's very possible. Let's take a look how.
By the way, please know you're not alone. I can relate. Anger was a major problem for me for a large part of my life. Or, as Homer J. Simpson would say, "D'oh!" :-)
Once you overcome anger, then, for the rest of your life, you'll wonder why you ever allowed yourself to go so long without changing the trait of anger into one of serenity. In fact, the character trait of anger is common and I'm sure many readers were nodding their heads in agreement as they read your question.
* (Please note that, in this article, I'm talking only about unhealthy anger. Of course, there is a time and place to be angry - I'm speaking here only of the negative, unhealthy and counter-productive variety.)
Let's look at some steps you can take:
#1 Truly desire to lose the character trait of anger which you believe is so much a part of you that you cannot change. Without the desire to change, utilizing any type of techniques will be no more effective for the long-term than trying to cover an internal infection with a bandage.
#2 Imagine situations and scenarios that could happen that would elicit anger and see yourself handling them in a calm, constructive and positive manner. This is like an astronaut running simulated missions so that, by the time he or she is actually in flight, the scenario is already familiar.
#3 Play a mind game with yourself. Pretend you are in the midst of an outburst of anger. Then imagine that a 7 foot tall, 450 pound, ferocious looking man wielding a machine gun just entered the room, looks at you and says, "if you don't stop your anger right now, really bad things will happen." Now, would you be able to calm down and immediately end your anger? I don't know about you, but I sure would, and fast! :-)
#3A. Here's the great news: If you could do it in that example, then you've just proved to yourself that you are capable of not becoming angry whenever *you* decide not to be. And, if you can do it once, you can do it whenever you choose to.
So, if you're having an argument with someone and you feel anger about to well up and that you're going to explode, don't rationalize ("rational lies") to yourself that there's nothing you can do about your anger. Instead, just recall the scene of the very large, angry-looking man with a machine gun threatening you that if you don't "adjust" right now bad things are going to happen.
Now, instead of losing control of yourself and becoming angry, just remember that you could calm yourself if the circumstances were the above. And, if you could do it then, you can do it now.
Again, your desire to lose this trait of anger will have to be stronger than the immediate comfort or status quo (actually, the correct term might even be "emotional laziness") of letting yourself explode into the familiar angry rage.
#4 Build on your small successes. You don't have to be 100 percent successful in order to take pleasure in your progress. Maybe the first few times you simply don't get *as* angry. Or, you handle it well a couple of times and then slip up. Then you do it well again. Don't put pressure on yourself to be perfect. Just try your best.
What do I mean by building on your small successes?
My Dad, who used to run Angelo and Chris Dundee's legendary 5th street fight gym in Miami Beach, Florida, more than 50 years ago, said that one of the many ways in which Angelo Dundee was a genius as a trainer and manager (he would later train Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, among others) was in the way he "brought" a fighter along, always helping the fighter to build on his small successes.
According to Dad, Angelo would always make sure that if his fighter was at "this level" on his worst day, his opponent would only be at "this level" (a little bit lower) on his best day. Thus, typically, his fighter would win. After a few wins, he'd rise to a higher level so that on his worst day, he was now here (a bit higher than before) while Angelo would make sure his opponent was only up to here (still a bit lower than his fighter on his fighter's worst day, but better than the previous opponents on their best days).
That way, Angelo's fighters would continue to improve and develop more self-confidence, while being able to rack up win after win, making them more desirable as fighters; thus get bigger paychecks. It's the same with us. We can also build on our small successes when it comes to controlling the trait of anger.
You've probably heard the saying, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." The reason, of course, is because the entire elephant is just too darned big. That's not to say you can't attack the negative character trait of anger full-force. By all means, you can. It's just that I encourage you to also take pleasure every single time you experience even a tiny bit of improvement, and simply continue to build upon your small successes.
Bob Burg (http://www.burg.com) is author of "Endless Referrals" (McGraw-Hill) and "Winning Without Intimidation: How to Master the Art of Positive Persuasion in Today's Real World" (Samark Publishing).
Now you can purchase Bob's newest ebook, "Master Your Traits - Master Yourself" for just $49.95. When you do you'll receive, as a bonus, Bob's ebook version of "Winning Without Intimidation" absolutely free. Check it out at http://www.burg.com/master.htm.
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