6 Strategies For Overcoming Outrage



Running like the wind with my dog.

Shouldn’t life look more like this?


Outrage is an expression of anger, one often used to mask and refocus our feelings about situations or issues beyond our control.  And increasingly, the way we express our outrage is over the internet. Here’s the thing: We’d probably all feel better if we didn’t.


Haven't your seen these words popping up all over?If you frequent social media sites like Facebook, you invariably run across a “friend” who posts one or more links daily and then adds a comment expressing their complete dismay.  Soon others tack on and before you know it words like horrible, crazy, embarrassment, moron, idiot, stupid, and especially outrage all come into play.  Curiously, the words are the same no matter which side of the issue you’re on.


Admittedly, I’m as opinionated as the next person. Yet I avoid the habit of climbing to the peak of my roof and bellowing out my views to any who might hear me.  More likely than not, the only person bothering to take notice would be the poor fellow walking down the street on a whim.  He’d take one look at the kook on the roof, consider calling 9-1-1, and then turn and rush away.  Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?  If you think about it, isn’t the internet just another platform for shouting at each other?


Anger comes from within...it's part of our nature.

Anger is a little like the sea. Stir it up and the waves just keep getting bigger and bigger.

This isn’t to say outrage or other forms of anger can be avoided.  I know I can easily wind myself up like the Energizer Bunny. And from there my soapbox is a step away. I bet a certain amount of anger in life is unavoidable and justified—some may even serve a purpose.  For example, how would we know real joy if we didn’t have anger to measure against it?  Or how would we know true love, if others weren’t passionately incensed over some of the things we’ve done?  Still, in spite of any good anger brings to our world, I’ve learned that to indiscriminately spew it at others rarely leads to feeling any better about my self or a given situation—it’s usually the opposite.



I believe the issue of anger expressed as outrage really boils down to wanting more control in our lives.  And control seems harder and harder to come by, especially:


(a) With instant access to an overabundance of information (i.e. more than any sane person can process on their own).

(b) When we’re more connected than ever to events going on all over the world, and the associated strife that goes with them.

(c) When technology is rapidly forcing us to adapt to new ways of thinking or doing almost anything.

(d) When so many different people, technologies, and events all clamor for our time and attention.


The mother who notes her young son’s increasingly wild antics probably understands this notion.  How?  When she sees he is out of control, she puts him in time-out.  In other words, since our lives feel out of control and we’re already over-stimulated to begin with the way past it is not through more stimulation, but less.


There Is A Way out


Life is short and peace seems rarer every day. To avoid getting ensnared by an endless cycle of anger try these six strategies to step back and disengage:


Avoid doing things that you know are a source of irritation.

The fire starts within. You need to find a way to extinguish it.

(1) Avoid feeding the fire. If you’re feeling more and more outraged by the things you’re seeing on T.V. or the internet, then cut yourself off—cold turkey. Talk radio, television and the much of the blogging world is invested in fueling debate, not watering it down. Remember, controversy is the way to gain a following.  Don’t unknowingly play into this trap—a trap designed to improve ratings and feed advertising budgets, not solve real problems.  Steps to take: Turn off the radio or T.V., change the channel, and don’t click on the inflammatory link your friend recommends.  Instead, enjoy a funny joke or cartoon, invest your pent up energy in something you can control (like cleaning off your desk), or sit back and read a good book.


It's dramatic for a reason--to get you hooked.

Maybe it’s time to turn off your T.V.

(2) Seek out quiet time to reflect on things.  Just like the kid who goes in time-out, self-reflection is a way to bring an over-stimulated mind to a more peaceful, calmer place.  Steps to take:  Walk away from your computer, game system, e-pad, or smart phone.  Turn off the T.V.  Ask your friend or spouse to watch the kids.  Go for a walk outdoors.  Breathe in lots and lots of fresh air.


(3) Try to enjoy the moment and let go of outcomes.  Having the sense that things are out of control isn’t really a feeling.  Usually, the feeling is what lies underneath, and quite often that implies a particular fear, wound, or anxiety is at play.  Yet without recognizing the feeling underneath, the things in our face seem to matter most.  Instead of staying grounded in the present, we envision a future event occurring as a consequence of something we read or hear. The trouble is the future isn’t clear or certain, at all. Outcomes aren’t guaranteed, but when we see others pick up on the rallying cry over an issue important to us we are easily ensnared. That only adds to our overall stress.


The way out is to let go of the future and try to be present with both our feelings and surroundings.  Admittedly, this is no easy task, but practice can help.  Steps to take:  If you find yourself worrying about a particular issue or outcome, acknowledge it vocally to a friend or loved one.  Be willing to discuss whether something else is really bothering you.  Is there a feeling you’ve failed to recognize?  This happens more often then we realize.  In any event, if you conclude the issue is in your control, make a concrete plan to deal with it.  Now, follow through on the plan.  If the issue isn’t in your control, then give yourself permission to let it go. At the same time, grant yourself forgiveness for ignoring something beyond your capacity to change on your own.


Taking a stroll down the beach in bare feet.

Take a vacation from outrage. See what you’ve been missing.

(4) Find beauty in a peaceful setting.  This is about acknowledging the things we often take for granted.  Stress and anger are creations of the mind and thus avoidable.  The beauty of nature surrounds us at all times if we only open our eyes to it.  Steps to take:  Find a local park, beach, trail, garden or otherwise and make regular visits.  While you’re there, try paying attention to the things around you and note how often your mind wants to jump to things you need to do or issues out of your immediate sphere of influence.  When this happens remind yourself you’re allowed to take a break from all of it, and then re-focus on the natural beauty of your surroundings.


(5) Ask yourself what makes you happy. When we only focus on issues that are external to our situation, we can quickly lose sight of all the good that surrounds us.  It’s worth asking why we avoid thinking about the things we love or make us happy in favor of things which only add to our stress.  Steps to take:  Make a list of things you love to do, and then do them more often.  Ideas:  Paint a picture, engage in a craft, go for a walk, expand on a hobby, read a book, invite some friends to dinner or a fun event like a movie or play.


(6) Decide what it is that makes you grateful for being where you’re at. When we feel most out of control there is almost always some fear or hurt just under the surface, waiting to get out.  Let it be okay to feel these things more openly—in other words, let it be okay to express them or cry with someone you trust.  And while you’re at it, try to remember the things in life you are truly grateful for—they can be an immense source of comfort.  Steps to take:  Each and every day, take a moment to reflect on something you feel grateful for.  It can be the same thing each day or something entirely different.  Now, start a list and add the item you’ve just reflected on.  In just a few weeks, you’ll discover there are plenty of reasons your life is far better than you imagined.


Chances are any of these strategies may allow you to feel less stressed and angry for the simple reason more of your time will be spent paying attention to the things you can and do control.  Here’s to spreading that around.


If you enjoyed this post, you may want also want to read:

109 Ideas For Tuning Up The Soul


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