Anger Management for Software Developers

This blog post, like most of mine, is a work in progress. It's also more for myself than for anyone else. May it be useful to others, then all the better. Questions/comments? Ping me @dicshaunary.

Why is "for software developers" in the title? I am a software developer. We can be an angry bunch.

So, you're feeling angry. Good. You're aware of it. Now:

  1. S.T.O.P. Stop. Take a breath. Observe. Proceed. While observing, ask yourself, "What thoughts are going through the mind?" This gives us some space to build self-awareness and make a considered response, if any.
  2. What is the threat? Anger is almost always a reaction to a perceived threat (real or otherwise). Identify it.
  3. Compassion. Our need to punish others, that is, a sense of vengeance, can aggravate anger. Remind yourself: We are all doing the best we can to take care of ourselves. You don't want to punish someone for doing their best, do you?
  4. Do not teach. Our need to instruct others can aggravate our anger too. Remind yourself that, the thing about teaching, is that the student must first sign up for the course.
  5. It is not fair. Much of our anger stems from a sense of injustice. Remember, realistic thinking understands the limitations of the world, trying for improvement, but also accepting how things are.
  6. Resolution not reaction. We don't need to express our anger. We need to resolve it. Sometimes we can do this with the target of our anger. Other times we need to come to a personal resolution.
  7. It's in the past. Sometimes we find ourselves angry at something that happened some time ago. In these situations, what's the threat? It's over. According to Yalom, much therapy is apparently about letting go of the longing for a better past.

Still angry? Take a break. Usually 20-minute will do it. During that time, avoid thinking thoughts that will fuel the anger. Instead, watch the thoughts going thru the mind, like clouds in the sky, without taking them seriously.

It's worth noting that people who enact their anger with aggression are more susceptible to death by all causes. I read that in a book: The Anger Control Workbook.

Resources

Paterson, R. J. (2002). Your depression map: Find the source of your depression and chart your own recovery. Oakland, Calif: New Harbinger.

Paterson, R. J. (2000). Assertiveness workbook. Oakland, Calif: New Harbinger Publications.

Alberti, R. E., & Emmons, M. L. (1995). Your perfect right: A guide to assertive living. San Luis Obispo, Calif: Impact Publishers.

McKay, M., & Rogers, P. D. (2008). The anger control workbook. S. l.: Read How You Want.

Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (2000). The seven principles for making marriage work. London: Orion.

Yalom, I. (2014). The gift of therapy. Place of publication not identified: HarperCollins e-Books.