The Tiger Within

Next month my first company Citrus Studios will be celebrating 26 years in business! 🙌

As I reflect back to 1996 when I was a website designer/ freelancer, and then later a CEO of several companies, I remember being surprised by all the turbulent emotions that I felt.

One of the most surprising, frequent and consistent emotions I felt was anger.

I didn’t realize back then, but I was cultivating seeds of anger, often during innocuous incidents.

Anger soon became my default emotion.

Fast-forward to 2024, I now practice mindfulness daily – and feel free! I of course, still freak out, but the level of pain is minimized.

So today, I want to share with you four strategies that helped me through the emotional storms, with practices that have not only helped manage my anger but also build healthy relationships and businesses.

COMMON REASONS ENTREPRENEURS (I) FEEL (FELT) ANGER:

  • Unmet Expectations: When reality falls short of our hopes or plans.
  • Miscommunications: This leads to misunderstandings with team members or clients.
  • Financial Stress: The pressures of cash flow, or unexpected expenses.
  • Perceived Lack of Control: Feeling that situations or outcomes are beyond our influence.

Recognizing these realities has been the first step in addressing my anger, leading me to adopt four practices.

1. Practicing Wise Speech

One of the most effective strategies I’ve embraced is the goal to practice of Wise Speech.

This involves taking a moment to pause before reacting and asking myself three important questions:

Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it necessary?

This simple yet profound checklist has helped me ensure that my words contribute positively to a situation rather than exacerbating any negativity.

Personal Insight: This practice has been particularly helpful in heated moments, providing a space to breathe and reflect, ultimately leading to more constructive and empathetic conversations. Also, remember that timing is key if you feel anger, don’t respond until 24 hours has passed.

2. Finding Wisdom in “Taming the Tiger Within”

Zen Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s Taming the Tiger Within is one of my favorite guidebooks that offers wisdom on understanding and transforming anger. 

The book emphasizes the importance of approaching anger with mindfulness and compassion, turning what often feels like a negative force into an opportunity for growth and deeper connection.

Key Lesson: “When anger arises, practice mindful breathing or walking to recognize and look deeply into your anger… Understanding is the foundation of love.” – Thich Nhat Han 

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned was not to push away my anger, but to view my anger through a lens of curiosity and care, that leads to greater self-understanding and helps resolve conflict.

3.  Applying the RAIN Technique

Tara Brach’s RAIN technique has been another cornerstone in my emotional toolkit.

By

Recognizing,
Allowing,
Investigating, and
Nurturing my feelings,

I’ve been able to approach difficult emotions with a sense of grace and understanding. This process has not only helped in moments of anger but has also created a greater sense of inner peace and resilience.

How I Practice: Whenever anger starts to surface, walking myself through the RAIN steps (with my hand on my heart) helps me to de-escalate my emotions, allowing me to respond wisely rather than react foolishly.

4. A Wise Reminder

A life-changing piece of advice came from my very first lawyer in my first year of business.

“What you’re worrying about today, you’re not even going to remember a year from now.”

This perspective got me on my journey has been incredibly grounding, reminding me to focus on what truly matters and letting go of minor irritations.

Personal Reflection: Reminding myself of time and perspective has often been the key to releasing anger, helping me to approach challenges with a calm and clear mind.

These practices have profoundly changed how I work through the complexities of running a business, reducing anger (to just moments rather than days), and creating a more mindful and compassionate approach to business and life.

I’d love to hear about your own experiences and strategies for managing anger or other strong emotions in the business.

Your bit wisdom can inspire and support each other in our collective journey towards growth and success.

Wishing you all the very best always,

All my best,

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