Recent Posts



3 Simple Steps to Transform Anger into Benevolence

3 Simple Steps to Transform Anger into Benevolence

by Grace Ganel

Anger is a normal part of daily life. Someone cuts us off in traffic, or misrepresents our words, or betrays our trust, and it is only natural to respond with frustration or even outrage. However, living from a place of reactivity is exhausting and can make us sick in many ways. The key to understanding how to transform our anger into effective action lies in the knowledge that benevolent intent is at the heart of the frustration we feel. These 3 simple steps will help you be more flexible in the face of frustration. Recently in working with a patient, we explored these ideas through conversation. Before we even began hands-on treatment, the patient reported to me, “already I am different than when I came in today. I feel so much better!” Read on to reap the benefits of this work.

1) Identify The Wrongdoing

Generally, anger arises in response to feeling wronged. The first step towards transforming anger is to identify what triggered the anger. More specifically, it is important to determine who or what is the source of the wrong. After this step of processing, you will be able to take effective action to address the situation.

Take some deep breaths, notice what the anger feels like. Tell yourself, “anger is present” and ask “why?”

If someone cuts you off, there’s little you can do to address the cause of the anger. You were wronged, but retaliation will not help matters. In this case, you need to proceed to step 3 - Let It Go.

However in some interpersonal situations, there is more flexibility of action around the wrongdoing. Perhaps someone makes a joke at your spouse’s expense in a gathering of friends. In this situation, that someone has clearly hurt your feelings, and there is an effective action you could take to address the situation. From here, proceed to step 2 - Take Action

2) Take Action

The anger gives you the required energy to take action for benevolence - standing up, speaking your mind, and making things right involve some degree of confrontation. This is appropriate anger, and it can be transformed into partnership and intimacy by consciously taking action.

Sometimes the timing of this step can be challenging to navigate. Maybe now isn’t a good time, maybe it’s best to wait to confront this person until you have a chance to talk to them alone.

Sometimes, the most effective action is inaction.

Yes I said these were simple steps. “But wait,” you say, “this sounds very challenging.”

Repeat after me: “I’m a beginner.”

In time and with practice, you will feel more confident in your ability to determine when and how to take action in the face of anger.

When it comes to the actual confrontation, use words that link your own feeling to a request or demand you are making (for more on requests versus demands, see my previous post). For example, you could make the following demand: “I feel angry with that behavior, because that joke was cruel toward my spouse. Please do not make jokes at the expense of others in my presence. If you keep making jokes like that, I won’t hang out with you anymore.”

Once you take effective action, the anger should soften and give way to an ease of being. If not, evaluate the effectiveness of your action. Did you get to the root of the problem? If so, it’s OK to still feel upset after such an emotional situation. It’s time for step 3.