How to Deal With Anger and Move Forward In a Project

Doing creative work is full of all kinds of great moments, but it also has its share of frustrations. That’s where today’s Design Your Life post by Kevin Leahy will come in handy. Kevin is the founder and lead brain trainer at Knowledge Advocate. He’s a lawyer who litigates brain injury lawsuits and a business owner who improves performance in the workplace. He teaches witnesses how to present best to jurors and executives how to present best to their teams. In this post, he shares a surprising tip to try the next time you’re angry.

It is that simple: Raise your eyebrows and you cannot stay angry.

Imagine yourself driving, in a meeting or perhaps at a family reunion. Someone invades your personal space. They may hurt your social sense of fairness and security. You’re immediately taken over by emotion – you cannot believe they just did that. Feel the anger; let it fill your fists, lower your brow, and pain you with the injustice. Feel it?

Okay, now lift your eyebrows up in surprise. That’s it. That’s all it takes: This may be the only anger management technique you will ever need in your personal, business and creative lives.

Why it works

Contrary to popular belief, brains don’t multi-task as much as they time-share. This means that when you are doing one thing the brain has a hard time doing another thing. That’s why it’s hard to talk and do math at the same time or think of an ice cream cone as you spell Mississippi (you can pull it off; it’s just very difficult). By intentionally sending energy to one place when your brain causes your eyebrows to lift up in surprise, it removes energy from another place — whatever is making you angry. It is that simple: Raise your eyebrows and you cannot stay angry.

Tell me more

The “places” in your brain are actually cellular networks. Some overlap and many do not. When you get angry, you energize the anger network. Because of that, any non-overlapping networks, like the love network or the compassion network, will lose energy. That’s just the way the brain works. Without enough energy, those networks can’t do their thing. When one network dominates, your state of mind, thoughts, feelings or actions associated with that network stay the same too. So, if you need a different result somewhere in your life, all you need to do is: (1) know which network will work best for you; and (2) know what to do to send energy to that network and keep it there, which can often be the hardest part.

What else

We can’t avoid getting angry. There will always be maddening colleagues, feedback that’s hard to hear and frustrations in our personal lives. The next time you’re angry, whatever the reason, try this eyebrow trick and let us know how it works for you.

Here’s to your health, your good state of mind, and to your eyebrows staying up!

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