Rage: A Transfer of Power

When we rage, and we’ve all done it at one time or another, we transfer power to the subject of our rage. I take no pride in acknowledging that I’ve raged against others, the lunacy of aspects of a new law, misleading advertising and, yes, the rug that tripped me (it couldn’t have been my fault).

In each instance I transferred power to the object of my rage. That seems even more ridiculous when directed to an inanimate object like a rug. What’s a rug going to do with power?

Power transfer

When we direct our rage at others it is a different story, because they do have the ability to use that power against us…power they wouldn’t have if we hadn’t raged. Here’s how we relinquish power with rage.

When we rage, we are out of control. We’re not considering the impact that our rage is having. We mistakenly believe that we’re hurting the other person when in fact we’re telling them how to push us to the limits of our tolerance. When others know what sets us off, what pushes us over the edge, they can use that to their advantage.

They can use this information to deflect our attention from what they don’t want to discuss or issues they don’t want to address by pushing our buttons. As our anger builds to rage, they know we’ll forget the original topic enabling them to successfully avoid our attempts to deal with an issue or a discussion they don’t want to have.

Raging also costs us mental capacity. Whenever we’re in a highly-emotional state, a significant portion of our brain is dedicated to the emotion we’re experiencing which means there is less capacity left to deal effectively with the situation that triggered the rage. If, as is often stated, we typically only employ about 10% of mental capacity, when we rage that probably drops to 3 or 4 percent, possibly less. How can we possibly be effective with so little capacity at work?

Power retention

My dear friend, Mark Brimer, founder of Office Supply Solutions, says that nothing frustrates someone who is trying to pick a fight than not responding to their taunts. I couldn’t agree more. I know that when I’ve responded to the bitterness, anger, frustration and taunts others directed at me with calm, quiet, reasoned responses, their energy dissipates. They cannot sustain their anger and frustration when it isn’t reciprocated. The effort is too draining to be sustained.

Path to retention

Mark’s and my comments raise the question “How do I remain calm, quiet and reasoned in the face of someone’s attack on me?”

The answer is to recognize that they are deflecting their own pain, frustration, fear, anxiety and despair upon you in hopes of alleviating their own pain. As you realize what’s happening, you become empathetic. You feel compassion instead of frustration and anger. Indeed, it’s likely that you’ll see ways in which you can help them alleviate their pain. You’ll be able to do this because you are operating at full mental capacity.

For you

When you feel the desire to rage at whatever upsets you, pause. The rage will quickly subside. Then ask yourself “How can I alleviate this person’s pain? How can I accomplish what I need to accomplish while following this ridiculous new regulation? What can I do to send a message to the company that’s using misleading advertising? How can I avoid tripping on that rug in the future?”

Lack of emotion combined with a focus on solutions enables you to be effective in dealing with any situation that triggers anger and rage. Not only do you feel more in control, you grow your confidence in your ability to deal with anything that comes your way. Knowledge of this ability also enables you to live more joyfully and experience higher and higher levels of energy, which you’ll share readily to the benefit of others. Not a bad way to live.

For our kids

When you see your kids rage, ask them “Who has the power in this situation, you or the other person or object? How is raging going to change what’s happening? What do you need to do to end the frustration, anger, fear, anxiety and bitterness you’re experiencing?”

With these questions, you’ll help them discover that raging doesn’t serve them well. They’ll quickly realize that a calm, reasoned, solution-oriented approach is a much more effective and enjoyable way to deal with situations that are initially irritating. They’ll appreciate that the fact that you’ve taken the time to make their lives easier and more joyful.

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program.

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2 Responses

  1. Bill Prenatt

    Dale, This is a great blog topic. People seem to think that they are unable to control their rage. Do you think that people who are involved in a raging situation realize that they are making a choice?

    • Dale Furtwengler

      No, Bill, I don’t believe that they realize they’re making a choice. The “choice” to act on the rage they are experiencing occurs at the subconscious level. It’s still a choice, but doesn’t feel like one to them. It’s only after the emotion subsides, after they’ve acted with rage, that they realize that they had a choice…to rage or not to rage. If the person feels justified in their rage, it’s likely they’ll rage again in the future. If the person realizes the harm that could have been done to themselves and others during their rage, they may remember these feelings the next time their emotions trigger rage and they’ll make a more conscious choice.

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