If you are a man, heck, if you are a human being, at some point you are likely to have lost your cool. It may have been today, yesterday, or the last minute. Basically not too long ago.
You may have ‘lost it’ over something someone said, what someone did, or as it is often the case, what someone failed to do.
Getting angry is not necessarily a bad thing. Anger, like other feelings like hunger, desire, and fear is natural. They are what makes us human. However, anger, like any other human emotion needs to be kept in check.
Your emotions, no matter what cannot or should not come to rule over you. Especially if you are a man.
Why one may ask, is the consequence of the failure of emotional mastery more severe for men, especially when it comes to anger? Read on to find out.
What is Anger?
Anger is an emotional reaction and if it persists for a per longed period, a state of mind. One that emerges as a result of not having your expectations met at a given time, or over a period. Especially when the stakes are high… Or not.
Anger is a powerful emotion. Especially when it comes from a person with power. The main danger with anger lies in its capacity to feed the irrational.
For many a bad, rash, an unthought decision has been made out of anger, with dire consequences.
Thus anger, like any human sensation it needs to be controlled, directed, and over time disciplined. So that you rule over the emotion, and that it does not rule over you.
When one speaks of anger, often the focus shifts towards its destructive power. Its capacity to cause harm and injury. And rightly so. Many an outburst, conflict or even calamities have resulted from untamed anger.
However when one speaks of the problematic character of anger, the issue is not so much with the emotional state itself, rather it is one’s disposition to give into it. And this is important, especially for men, since anger or what it underlies: one’s control over his emotions is a key determinant in the success or failure of men.
To understand how having control over or better the mastery of one’s emotions, particularly in those times when things don’t go one’s way is key to attaining success in life, let’s look at the art of managing your emotions in practice.
Rising Above Conflicts
Think of the last time someone pissed you off.
Intentionally or otherwise when someone said or did something that unsettled you. That made you want to break out and say something in response, or maybe put yourself in front of that person’s face.
Did you do it? And if you did, was the outcome worth it?
Before you answer these questions, let’s take a step back and focus on the emotions that ran through your mind at that moment when something was said or done that made feel that way.
Often times the problem with anger is not what happens after the person gets angry, but rather it is the state of mind that is vulnerable to it.
To elaborate, consider the wisdom of the Stoics on the dangers of not anger per se, but on the person who gives into it.
The great Stoic philosopher Seneca stated: ‘Anger brings about nothing grand or beautiful. On the other hand, to be constantly irritated seems to me to be the part of a languid and unhappy mind, conscious of its own feebleness’.
Look closely at the words: the main problem with anger is not whether there are factors and forces in the external world, whether they be people, events of a natural or unforeseeable kind that causes anger; rather the problem lies with the person in question who react in such a manner.
The capacity to deal correctly with situations and events that can fuel anger in a person is where the problem and as we shall see, the solution lies.
Look at it this way. In life, there is no limit to the number, type, frequency, and nature of events and scenarios that can make a person lose his cool.
On any given day there could be dozens if not hundreds of events that could cause you just lose it! The expression that sh** happens is true for more reasons than one.
However, what is different is how you respond to them.
By ‘response', we are not talking about reacting to something: what some bloke at the restaurant says, the attitude of the person at the counter, the guy cut from the left when he shouldn’t have, or… And this happens quite a bit, that pretty girl you simile at didn’t reciprocate!
Life is full of this stuff. And the only way a person can truly navigate the chaos and uncertainty is by becoming resilient to their effects.
Again notice the language.
When we say that in life there are going to be a number of things that are going to piss you off, but that you should remain calm and composed in the face of them. We NOT saying that you should become desensitized to their reality.
To make one point absolutely clear: In the life of a man, being self-aware needs to be balanced with social awareness: to be sensitive and proactive to the world around you. Which includes the good and the bad.
In other words, if there is something or someone that is a cause of distress or angst in your life, you will do well to recognize it and deal with it accordingly: whether that be a nagging college, an unfaithful partner, a micro-managing boss, etc.
As a masculine man whose aim is to grow and develop into a fully rounded human being, who wishes to and is able to assert his will on the world, your energies should not be brought down by anything or anyone!
As an agent of growth and change, you should at every moment work to make things right for yourself. However, the question is: in those moments of conflict, hardship, disappointment, and frustration is the path of anger the way forward?
Look at it this way: every challenge, problem, or obstacle requires a series of steps, a course of action that must be followed to rectify or correct it. However, when following that process, being angry is not the right mindset to be in.
Acceptance Does Not Equal Weakness
If you have been in the online space and have followed the topic of men and relationships, you are likely to have run into content that engages the dangers of ‘simping’.
The term ‘simp’ basically refers to men who behave in ways that are too obsequious, particularly when it comes to the opposite sex.
The notion of men, particularly uninitiated men who are not in touch with their masculinity, who go through life being these timid, fearful wussies. The kind of men who are always ready to please everybody, and who are the type of people who give without expecting anything in return.
The problem with these ‘yes men’ is a subject for another time. However, one standout feature among these types of men is their ‘acceptance’ of everything and everyone around them.
The kind of men who will never raise their concerns on a pressing issue. Who will not dare utter a word out of line in a relationship, owing to the fear of upsetting the person they’re with.
The kind of blokes who will take sh** from virtually everybody, and will give nothing back in return, owing to the fear of offending, or the fear of being disliked or to be considered as a member of the out-group.
The kind of guy whose very life is defined by walking perpetually on eggshells. And yes, the kind of guy who does not get angry…. Until he does.
The mindset of acceptance that we are talking about is the importance of looking at reality for what it is and accepting it as is! No filter.
Consider the following example. Say a guy sees this girl at a party. He likes her. Or rather he likes the look of her. He approaches her and they exchange a few words, and then he proceeds to buy her a drink.
What happens next?
Well, she can accept his drink and continue the conversation (though that would greatly depend on the quality of his approach and social calibration). Which would mean that it’s all good, at least for the time being.
But what happens if she spurns his offer!? What happens if she says ‘No thanks’. Or worse… How will or more pertinently for our discussion, should he react?
Well, one of three ways. One: get upset at the girl, throw a tantrum demanding why doesn’t she want to take your drink (or give you her number). A scenario where things can get out of hand very quickly.
Two: Get dejected over her response. Believe she has rejected you (and not just your offer of a drink). Lose your confidence and head for the exit.
Three: Nod in acknowledgment. Walk away, and approach the next pretty girl at the party.
Of the above three possible responses, three is the best one. However one must note that the guy who chooses to respond this way is also feeling it. Arguably he would have felt it more strongly than the other two guys, at least at first. But then he chooses to do something.
Something that he has been training himself to do. Something (the right mindset) that enables him to deal with emotionally challenging scenarios such as these.
When it comes to anger, let’s reiterate, that we are often dealing with the problem of unmet expectations. But underlying it, is the deeper issue of having expectations.
But wait a minute, how does one go through life, without having expectations on how certain things should or ought to pan out?!
Especially when there is input on your part with aim of producing the desired outcome. Such as approaching a girl, with aim of getting her number, or setting up a date.
The answer lies in the mindset of living without expectations, but not without standards.
Living Without Expectations But Not Without Standards
Life is about learning, applying yourself, producing something of value, and growing in the process of work, study and relationships.
To succeed in each of these arenas there are a host of factors: mental, physical, and intellectual (the latter concerns knowledge and expertise) that you need mastery.
As you progress in these areas-you ought to, if your goal is to lead a meaningful life where you fulfill your purpose-you come to understand that self-mastery: the ability to know what you want in life and be able to work towards achieving it requires the state of mind to operate free of the actions, beliefs of others.
But not without having high standards of your own as far as it concerns what you CAN control, what you can affect and influence.
This point may seem counterintuitive at first. So look at it this way: If you want someone to do something the way you want it to be done: like say a bunch of contractors who are going to build you a new garage.
The two parties come to an agreement on how things should proceed. They give you a plan. You sign off on it if you like it. They start working on a certain section. You inspect it. If you like it, you proceed. If not you reassess and make a decision.
Note that at any point, if their role fails to live up to your expectations you can get upset about what has transpired. Such as calling them in and giving them what’s coming! And then ponder what your next set of actions should be.
Or you can instead choose to accept the reality at hand. Acknowledging it for what it is. Choose to conserve that energy and safeguard against that added stress (that results from getting worked up) and calmly consider the next set of actions.
Either to talk to them, reassess, and give them a second chance. Or be rid of them. And take your next step from there.
The First to Anger is Invariably the First to Loose
If you are a man who has chosen to walk the path that leads towards success: success in your personal life, in your finances, in your pursuit of success, you ought to know that the biggest hurdle that you would have to surmount is yourself.
The tendency to lose your cool, whilst a natural part of being human, is not a tendency that should be allowed to control you. Because it will.
Self-mastery is a key component in walking the pathway towards success, for whether you like it or not, the biggest obstacle you will face in your life, would be yourself.
For when challenges come your way, and they invariably do, your ability to withstand them. To face up to them, whilst maintaining your posture, balance and your power are key.
To provide a final example of the danger of losing your cool, especially when it is the result of provocation by an opposing party, let’s revisit the 2006 FIFA World Cup final.
When France and Italy were tied 1-1, well into extra time. With only around 10 minutes left in the game, the captain of France and the best player on the field Zinedine Zidane head-butted the Italian defender Marco Materazzi.
The cause of the outburst were insults that were thrown in the way of the French legend, apparently directed at his sister. Zidane lost his cool and engaged the Italian, and was red carded for his actions. And no doubt missing his place on the penalty spot. Which his apparent replacement missed, leading to France’s defeat.
Of course, things need not necessarily have happened this way. But the fact remains that Zidane in that moment of the trial gave in to his opponent's provocation. He lost his temper and had to face the consequences.
To be clear this does not mean that men in the name of not getting angry, should let people walk all over them. Quite the contrary.
Rather the principle of maintaining your cool and sense of presence is one of strength. It is about composed, knowing the reality at hand, and the cards that are at your disposal, in order to make the right move.
Which at one point may mean tapping into that well of energy that anger produces. But only as a very last resort.
In closing consider the great wisdom of Sun Tzu that: ’The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting’.
If you are serious about learning the mastery of the self. To be able to tame your mind so that you control it, rather than the other way around; to lay the groundwork to build a life where you are able to make optimal decisions more often than not so that you are able to succeed at the personal and social level, then this might be the way for you.
Everyone gets angry. The difference is how often and why. Anger is an emotional response to external events and people, or thoughts about events and people in the past, where things did not go your way.
Anger is often driven by a sense to make things right. But given its chaotic and often destructive character, it causes more harm than good.
Whilst controlling your temper is a major strength, it should not be confused with timidity and cowardice. As a man, you should be self-aware, at the moment and remain strong. Be unafraid to fight. But that is not the same as losing cool, every time something goes off script.