Internal Listening and Anger Management

Compare Scenario A and Scenario B. What is the difference between the orientations of (hypothetical persons) Esbert and Isko?


Scenario A: Esbert

Office co-worker: “You’re stupid!”

Esbert:“You’re damn worse!” (then boxes co-worker in the face)

Scenario B: Isko

Office co-worker: “You’re stupid!”

Isko: “I am not sure what made you say that.”

Notice that Esbert in Scenario A is externally-attentive, while Isko in Scenario B is internally-attentive. Read about “internal attention” in the following blog posts: “L13- Learning How to Learn”, “The Reflective Knowledge Worker” and “External Attention Can Block Your Learning”.

Probably, the sequence of internal states in Esbert went like this:

  1. Statement from office co-worker –>
  2. Esbert feels angry –>
  3. An intention emerged in Esbert –>
  4. Verbal reaction by Esbert –>
  5. Action by Esbert.

I liken this sequence to a “run-away train” because:

  • An external stimulus put Esbert in the run-away train.
  • Esbert is NOT in conscious control; he did not decide to ride the run-away train.
  • Once Esbert rides the run-away train, it takes him through.
  • The process is a “reaction”: an automatic, externally-initiated behavior.

On the other hand, Isko who is internally-attentive will be aware that he is riding a potentially run-away train. He is aware as he is going through 1-2-3-etc. In other words, he is aware of his anger as well as any intentions arising from that anger. However, because he is so aware, he has the choice of consciously getting off the run-away train. He can stop at 2 or 3 before going to 4 or 5.

Internal listening gives Isko the power of choice that Esbert did not have! Awareness empowers Isko with conscious choice. Awareness allows Isko to consciously control his anger, compared to anger controlling Esbert unconsciously.

Listen to Aristotle writing in The Nicomachean Ethics:

“Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy.”


Aristotle was the mentor of Alexander the Great, the man who conquered the world from the Mediterranean to India. It is likely that Aristotle also mentored Alexander in how to conquer the world within. It is highly possible that Alexander the Great had Power of the Third Kind.

Alexander the Great

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3 Responses to “Internal Listening and Anger Management”

  1. Marivic Castro Says:

    I think spontaneity is not only a natural reaction but is also a ‘coping’ mechanism to adapt to its environment. Anger as it is released through reaction or its expression may be positive for the person expressing it as it relieves that person of anxiety and thus make him more ready to cope with his anger. This may be medically sound and could be beneficial for the mental health of a person.

  2. apintalisayon Says:

    Hi Marivic!

    What I hear you saying is that anger can be useful.

    I think what is “bad” is unconscious anger, where the person is “controlled by his anger.” When Isko gets angry (of course he gets angry too like Esbert), it is a considered or conscious decision to be angry; he “controls the anger.”

  3. Emotional Hurdles of Today | Online Business News, Ideas, Strategy Says:

    […] Internal Listening and Anger Management « Apin Talisayon's Weblog […]

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