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Give This a Try: A Poet's Three Steps to Reducing Anger in Your Life

Step 1: Realize what anger really is


The poet David Whyte writes in one of his classic works:

“What we have named as anger on the surface is the violent outer response to our own inner powerlessness, a powerlessness connected to such a profound sense of rawness and care that it can find no proper outer body or identity or voice, or way of life to hold it. What we call anger is often simply the unwillingness to live the full measure of our fears or of our not knowing, in the face of our love for a wife, in the depth of our caring for a son, in our wanting the best, in the face of simply being alive and loving those with whom we live.
Anger turns to violence and violent speech when the mind refuses to countenance the vulnerability of the body and its love for all of these outer things.”

Real anger management, then, isn’t about calming down, taking deep breaths, or other behavioral management techniques. It’s about recognizing our helplessness in the face of the overpowering randomness of life, and giving expression to this helplessness.

Step 2: Realize what we actually care about

In an interview about his writings on anger, Whyte says that anger shows us an inner door into what we truly care about. And if we stop and go through that door, we can act on what really matters to us.

"When I think about moments in my life where I've been angry in the wrong way and that's caused either emotional destruction or actual physical disruption, it's always when I’ve walked past that inner door and gone into the outer world with my helplessness where I start to both lash out and cling on to the world in ways that are not good for myself or for others."

Step 3: Get vulnerable, accept what’s out of your control, and connect with others’ vulnerability

In the same interview, Whyte goes on to say that final step in letting go of anger is getting comfortable with our own vulnerability and connecting with the vulnerability of others:

"What's difficult about going through that inner door to the place where I really care is that it's a place of physical vulnerability, of longing. And it's a place also of having been wounded just by being born into this world. We’re born through trauma into this world. The first breath a human being takes is actually a traumatic taking in of what feels like a hostile compound, which is oxygen.
That trauma is right at the center of our body. It's also part of our compassion for everyone else’s woundedness in the world. But it's very hard to inhabit. And anything that's not fully integrated into the understanding of the central difficulty of being alive, takes forms of power, control, and anger in the outer world."

Want to learn more about relieving stress and reducing anger? Check out the OPEN Method, created by TFT Co-Founder Justin Wilford, PhD.


Give This a Try: A Poet's Three Steps to Reducing Anger in Your Life

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Give This a Try: A Poet's Three Steps to Reducing Anger in Your Life

Life imitates art -- here's what we can learn about reducing anger from poet David Whyte

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Key takeaways

1

Your anger isn’t what you think it is

2

It’s really about caring deeply about something and feeling powerless to fulfill that care

3

We can reduce anger in our lives while still caring deeply by recognizing and connecting with our own vulnerability

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Reading time:

3 minutes

Step 1: Realize what anger really is


The poet David Whyte writes in one of his classic works:

“What we have named as anger on the surface is the violent outer response to our own inner powerlessness, a powerlessness connected to such a profound sense of rawness and care that it can find no proper outer body or identity or voice, or way of life to hold it. What we call anger is often simply the unwillingness to live the full measure of our fears or of our not knowing, in the face of our love for a wife, in the depth of our caring for a son, in our wanting the best, in the face of simply being alive and loving those with whom we live.
Anger turns to violence and violent speech when the mind refuses to countenance the vulnerability of the body and its love for all of these outer things.”

Real anger management, then, isn’t about calming down, taking deep breaths, or other behavioral management techniques. It’s about recognizing our helplessness in the face of the overpowering randomness of life, and giving expression to this helplessness.

Step 2: Realize what we actually care about

In an interview about his writings on anger, Whyte says that anger shows us an inner door into what we truly care about. And if we stop and go through that door, we can act on what really matters to us.

"When I think about moments in my life where I've been angry in the wrong way and that's caused either emotional destruction or actual physical disruption, it's always when I’ve walked past that inner door and gone into the outer world with my helplessness where I start to both lash out and cling on to the world in ways that are not good for myself or for others."

Step 3: Get vulnerable, accept what’s out of your control, and connect with others’ vulnerability

In the same interview, Whyte goes on to say that final step in letting go of anger is getting comfortable with our own vulnerability and connecting with the vulnerability of others:

"What's difficult about going through that inner door to the place where I really care is that it's a place of physical vulnerability, of longing. And it's a place also of having been wounded just by being born into this world. We’re born through trauma into this world. The first breath a human being takes is actually a traumatic taking in of what feels like a hostile compound, which is oxygen.
That trauma is right at the center of our body. It's also part of our compassion for everyone else’s woundedness in the world. But it's very hard to inhabit. And anything that's not fully integrated into the understanding of the central difficulty of being alive, takes forms of power, control, and anger in the outer world."

Want to learn more about relieving stress and reducing anger? Check out the OPEN Method, created by TFT Co-Founder Justin Wilford, PhD.


Step 1: Realize what anger really is


The poet David Whyte writes in one of his classic works:

“What we have named as anger on the surface is the violent outer response to our own inner powerlessness, a powerlessness connected to such a profound sense of rawness and care that it can find no proper outer body or identity or voice, or way of life to hold it. What we call anger is often simply the unwillingness to live the full measure of our fears or of our not knowing, in the face of our love for a wife, in the depth of our caring for a son, in our wanting the best, in the face of simply being alive and loving those with whom we live.
Anger turns to violence and violent speech when the mind refuses to countenance the vulnerability of the body and its love for all of these outer things.”

Real anger management, then, isn’t about calming down, taking deep breaths, or other behavioral management techniques. It’s about recognizing our helplessness in the face of the overpowering randomness of life, and giving expression to this helplessness.

Step 2: Realize what we actually care about

In an interview about his writings on anger, Whyte says that anger shows us an inner door into what we truly care about. And if we stop and go through that door, we can act on what really matters to us.

"When I think about moments in my life where I've been angry in the wrong way and that's caused either emotional destruction or actual physical disruption, it's always when I’ve walked past that inner door and gone into the outer world with my helplessness where I start to both lash out and cling on to the world in ways that are not good for myself or for others."

Step 3: Get vulnerable, accept what’s out of your control, and connect with others’ vulnerability

In the same interview, Whyte goes on to say that final step in letting go of anger is getting comfortable with our own vulnerability and connecting with the vulnerability of others:

"What's difficult about going through that inner door to the place where I really care is that it's a place of physical vulnerability, of longing. And it's a place also of having been wounded just by being born into this world. We’re born through trauma into this world. The first breath a human being takes is actually a traumatic taking in of what feels like a hostile compound, which is oxygen.
That trauma is right at the center of our body. It's also part of our compassion for everyone else’s woundedness in the world. But it's very hard to inhabit. And anything that's not fully integrated into the understanding of the central difficulty of being alive, takes forms of power, control, and anger in the outer world."

Want to learn more about relieving stress and reducing anger? Check out the OPEN Method, created by TFT Co-Founder Justin Wilford, PhD.


Step 1: Realize what anger really is


The poet David Whyte writes in one of his classic works:

“What we have named as anger on the surface is the violent outer response to our own inner powerlessness, a powerlessness connected to such a profound sense of rawness and care that it can find no proper outer body or identity or voice, or way of life to hold it. What we call anger is often simply the unwillingness to live the full measure of our fears or of our not knowing, in the face of our love for a wife, in the depth of our caring for a son, in our wanting the best, in the face of simply being alive and loving those with whom we live.
Anger turns to violence and violent speech when the mind refuses to countenance the vulnerability of the body and its love for all of these outer things.”

Real anger management, then, isn’t about calming down, taking deep breaths, or other behavioral management techniques. It’s about recognizing our helplessness in the face of the overpowering randomness of life, and giving expression to this helplessness.

Step 2: Realize what we actually care about

In an interview about his writings on anger, Whyte says that anger shows us an inner door into what we truly care about. And if we stop and go through that door, we can act on what really matters to us.

"When I think about moments in my life where I've been angry in the wrong way and that's caused either emotional destruction or actual physical disruption, it's always when I’ve walked past that inner door and gone into the outer world with my helplessness where I start to both lash out and cling on to the world in ways that are not good for myself or for others."

Step 3: Get vulnerable, accept what’s out of your control, and connect with others’ vulnerability

In the same interview, Whyte goes on to say that final step in letting go of anger is getting comfortable with our own vulnerability and connecting with the vulnerability of others:

"What's difficult about going through that inner door to the place where I really care is that it's a place of physical vulnerability, of longing. And it's a place also of having been wounded just by being born into this world. We’re born through trauma into this world. The first breath a human being takes is actually a traumatic taking in of what feels like a hostile compound, which is oxygen.
That trauma is right at the center of our body. It's also part of our compassion for everyone else’s woundedness in the world. But it's very hard to inhabit. And anything that's not fully integrated into the understanding of the central difficulty of being alive, takes forms of power, control, and anger in the outer world."

Want to learn more about relieving stress and reducing anger? Check out the OPEN Method, created by TFT Co-Founder Justin Wilford, PhD.


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