Bill Cottringer

“Speak when you are angry, and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” ~Ambrose Bierce.

Anger is a strong, unpleasant feeling you usually get when someone else, something else or you yourself, may be getting in the way of getting what you think you want or need. In one way or the other, you do not feel a needed sense of being able to control what is happening. Or it could be when you find yourself in a dark hole, not knowing how you got there and wanting to blame everyone and everything else, but yourself. Your empty hands and disappointed mind make you frustrated, and that frustration breeds anger that demands to be expressed, often in unknown ways.

Like information, we have too much anger in the air today. The expression of anger can only be positive in a few circumstances. This is usually when you are wronged unfairly, have no other way to fight for a righteous cause, or end up in a bad situation you didn’t do anything to deserve. Below are seven action verbs to help defeat unneeded or unwanted anger:


We can never achieve the success we dream about without being a perpetual student in learning, one thing especially—that all we think we know isn’t always necessarily so. Adopting this doubt, opens the door to learning all the things we really need to know to succeed. One other important lesson to learn that can reduce our frustration and anger, is that failure is something to get to know better, rather than trying to avoid or get angry when we fail and think we should have succeeded. Failure often hides the clues on what we need to change the next time around, to improve our success rate.


Understanding how to defeat anger involves understanding all these other six action verbs and how to use them strategically to reduce unnecessary destructive anger. One thing to try and understand is this—how your particular feelings of anger come about and then understand how you may be inadvertently attracting these unwanted feelings by putting yourself in situations where they are just waiting to happen. Another important understanding lies with the distinction between not getting what you want but getting what you need.


We start out being very unaccepting of the things that happen to us, especially other people’s behavior, until we accept the reality that others’ behavior is not actually under our control and sometimes not even theirs. Then we begin to look for ways to manage what we can about our own behavior, mainly our interpretations and reactions to things that others say or do to us, one incident at a time. Ironically, this level of active acceptance, ends up bringing more things we can manage better in getting to where we really want to be.


There is actually much less under our immediate control than we imagine, even our interpretations of and reactions to the things that happen to us. On a good day, half of our behavior is unconsciously driven, while the other half is socially conditioned by external forces beyond our control. Usually, the best we can hope for is to manage what we can with mindfulness, in focusing mostly on the present and not drifting back to past memories or fast-forwarding to the yet-unknown future. And then, the viable choice is to let go of the rest. A good start to self-management is to study our interpretations and reactions to the things that happen and adjust to their positive utility in getting us where we want to be.


The easiest way to understand, accept and manage your own anger, is to actively develop empathy to understand and accept others’ anger. Sometimes it is easier to see what we need to focus on ourselves and change with our own behavior, by safely seeing that first in others. The only caveat here, is the same with anything else good, you can overdo it and this is true with over-developing your empathy. When you do this, it risks the temptation to accept the unacceptable and throw away any boundaries that are required for your own well-being. Moderation rules.


Like suffering and problems being a sure constant in life, so is change, and so fighting it is mostly futile, even though we often take too long to accept that limitation. Part of our self-management progress comes from knowing what approaches we are using, which may not be getting us to where we want to be, and then changing these approaches. A good example is how we approach others with our communication. Conveying any thing that creates a defensive climate, such as superiority, judgment, control, or insensitivity, will require a change towards conveying equality, acceptance, freedom and sensitivity, to be successful.


A difficult lesson to learn is what to quit and what not to quit. Often, what we are wanting and looking for is just around the next corner, if we just hang tough and persevere to get there. However, the speed of technology has ruined our patience and ability to delay gratification, weakening our perseverance mental muscles. Knowing the few failures to quit and not unnecessarily repeating unneeded mistakes, can free some energy to exercise more perseverance when it is needed most.

If you want to defeat your anger, try any of these seven action verbs to start seeing results. Like any other successful strategy, these verbs are highly interactive and help each other reduce unnecessary anger, as a collective team.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~Buddha.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is retired Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair, (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Thoughts on Happiness; Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.) Coming soon: A Cliché a day will keep the Vet Away (Another Dog’s Tale). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 652-8067 or