When I Get Angry

Marcus Aurelius (121 AD – 180 AD) was a Roman Emperor and Stoic Philosopher who is known
as the last of the Five Good Emperors. During his lifetime he kept a personal journal that
subsequently was named and published as Meditations. It remains one of most insightful and
useful guides to living with courage, temperance, wisdom and justice.

Some of the most helpful offerings in Meditations and in the Stoic philosophy relate to anger
management. Here is the idea in a nutshell.

  • The root of anger is revenge. (Someone has wronged me, and I will get them back for it).
  • The Stoic approach to successfully managing anger includes:
    • Self-Awareness – Notice your reactive feelings and actions (chest muscle tension, clenched jaw, change in voice pitch or volume, revengeful thinking, insomnia, tearful, anxiousness, etc.)
    • Thoughtfulness – Remind yourself that anger is driven by your reaction to the perceived transgression not by the action (or inaction) itself. See the source of your anger within yourself.
    • Disconnect – Do not respond until your anger has reduced to the level required for a thoughtful, well considered response to be provided.
    • Think: What is the right action to take? Then act.
    • Take Wise Action – Take action to address the violation with courage, temperance, wisdom and justice. Repair the violation so that all involved walk forward with greater understanding.