When Anger Takes Over Your Life

This is a personal story and one I haven’t shared very much. A lot of people who know me now certainly wouldn’t recognise the person I was when I was a lot younger.

In my late teenager years I used to be very angry; quite a lot of the time. I would flare-up at any situation that didn’t agree with me. That could be because someone said something wrong to me, or something didn’t go my way.

However, the result would be the same; I would feel my anger rise up through my body until it got to the point when I just shouted, or threw things around. My face would go very red, and my body would physically shake. Everyone would know how angry I was, and I expected them to do something about it. After all it was their fault; not mine!

Thankfully (for everyone), I’m not like that now. I am a lot calmer. My job as an NLP and NLP4Kids Practitioner means that I must relate and build rapport with young people. I certainly wouldn’t be able to this successfully if I still had that pent-up anger inside me.

So, what changed?

Initially, it was a decision; I didn’t want to be angry any more. Secondly, I discovered the self-help industry.

I loved books and there were lots of self-help books I could read! What I learned from those books, at the time, was that I needed to control my emotions and not get angry. I would never get anything I wanted until I was a lot calmer. Unfortunately, what I found was that I was just suppressing my anger; in effect, all I was doing was bottling it up. All it took was one good shake and that anger would explode out. It was not a pretty sight! But! It was way better than I used to behave.

So did those self-help books help me? Absolutely. It was the start of a journey, which lead me to NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), and now doing something I love, providing therapy and coaching for children with NLP4Kids (www.NLP4Kids.org) in Cambridgeshire.

In NLP there’s a ‘law’ called the law of Requisite Variety; which simply means the more choices you have, the better your options are.

So, when I was that angry teenager I really felt there was only one choice available to me and that was Go, Angry!! Now, after discovering and understanding the law of Requisite Variety, I know I could have made other choices, and found other options; and these would have given me different results, perhaps even better ones.

When I start to work with a child in my NLP4Kids sessions I may use a technique called the Path of Life. This is an elegant way that shows the child what would happen if they carried on doing that behaviour (for example being angry all the time). I pick certain times in their future life and ask: What would you be doing in your life at this point? Where will you be? What does your family think about you?

I even extend the questions out to when they have died: Who was with you to say goodbye? What would you say about your life looking back on it?

These are tough questions to ask, and the answers can sometimes be heartbreaking.

By the way, this is the easy route! Going back to the law of Requisite Variety; this Path of Life would mean you didn’t need to make any choices, just the one, ‘Be Angry’ and see what happens.

Fortunately, there is another path you can take, if you choose to.

It is harder, it requires change. But it all starts from a decision. Not to be angry all the time and then imagine all the possibilities that could happen in your future.

Each time I work through the exercise with the children I remember that angry teenager, and what might have been if I didn’t choose to go down the new path.

If you are interested in learning more about how NLP4Kids and I can help your angry child to find a new path do contact me at stuart@nlp4kids.org or on 07795 212537.



Stuart Nunn
NLP4Kids Practitioner

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4 comments on “When Anger Takes Over Your Life

  1. Ruth Johnson on said:

    I commend the bravery and vulnerability you have demonstrated in sharing your personal story here. In doing so you have created instant rapport with the reader and much respect from them too.

    Anger is so often caused by a perceived violation that it can for some, begin to kick in as a defence mechanism. What you are unconsciously teaching the reader of this article is that the anger dissolves when you allow yourself to be vulnerable, that you are not left weakened by that vulnerability as you had feared, but you are in fact stronger and wiser because of it.

    The technique you have described sounds like a great fit for helping to process the effects that anger could have in the long term. I performed a Google search about The Path of Life as I had not heard of it before but could not find out any details about it. I wondered if you could provide a reference as this seems to be a less common NLP technique?

    Referring to the choices you had and always have before you is a very liberating way of choosing different states as well as the actions you take. In my mind this takes a visual form – such a mind map – and your article could benefit from some visuals to describe some of the elements you talk about.

    I particularly like that you have stated that when working with children, you are reminded of your own choices as a young person. This demonstrates that you are re-embedding your learning every time you offer solutions to others which in turn enables you become more certain and more resourceful as a practitioner.

  2. Many thanks for your lovely comments Ruth 🙂

    The Path of Life technique was developed by Gemma Bailey to help young people set goals and engage with the future consequences of their present actions (or lack of actions).

    When I use it the child literally draws two paths on some paper, and we go through the questions, and they write or draw the answers on the same page. They then have something physical to take away with them (as a reminder and encouragement together).

  3. Namita Bhatia on said:

    Really enjoyed the article Stuart.. It is so important that we make the young people aware that they have many choices available to them in whatever they do.

  4. I very much like the idea of the competition – it gives all those participating a wider perspective on some very difficult and demanding areas of development
    Well done NLP4Kids