Anger Management Secret #7: Self-awareness creates the foundation for calm behavior.
Learning How to Make Conscious Choices
This is a continuation of Secret #3, and leads directly to Secret #8. The more awareness you have about what you are feeling, what you want, and who you are -- the better fit you are to make conscious choices about how you respond to difficult and challenging situations. Anger and rage don't have to be automatic, knee-jerk responses.
Schoolyard bullies prey upon children who can't control their responses. If a child gets predictably upset or angry when teased, that is somehow entertaining to the bully. Children who have the ability to remain calm even in the face of teasing quickly escape bullying. It's no fun teasing someone who doesn't get upset. The point here is that when you automatically respond in certain ways like anger and rage, you are much more vulnerable than is someone who has developed their capability to respond more thoughtfully.
Socrates said, "Know thyself". Self-knowledge provides the foundation for living effectively. Self-knowledge is not just about knowing your strong points: it's also about knowing your vulnerabilities.
Embracing the Shadow
Jung coined the term Shadow to refer to the part of the Self that is disowned. Without a way to embrace your Shadow, you are at its mercy, because those hidden aspects of yourself tend to drive actions and behavior that are puzzingly at odds with who you say you are and who you most want to be. This is behind the news articles that reveal that yet another public figure (politician, minister, investment banker) has behaved badly. Paradoxically, when you come to terms with your not-so-nice self, it's no longer in the driver's seat. Embracing the Shadow's unsettling complexity often enhances creativity and productivity.