Leaders, Are You Burning Up (Anger) or Burning Out (Exhaustion)? Here’s What To Do.

burning up

Summary: As a leader do you shout out your anger or shut it down? Either way can be costly to your health. Soon, overwhelm causes you to shut down. Here are ways to turn your anger inside out and move past the extremes to more effective ways of working together.

The energy of anger is like a cat on a hot tin roof.

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

I hesitated to write to you. My annoyances seem so petty compared to the issues we are facing all around the world.

For instance, I wonder if it is me? Or are people behaving more rudely?

I was on a plane last week. So excited to be traveling again. However, the cursing, pushing, and intense anger was awful.

Okay, the plane was late taking off. Not the first time I’ve seen this.

However, the intensity of the language and reactions of so many made me cringe. Everyone seemed to turn their anger inside out. It did not feel good.

For instance, The older gentleman in front of me was taking a long time putting his suitcase in the overhead. I could tell he was struggling, and yet I sensed he didn’t want help.

What do you do when someone is rude and offensive?

So, I stood and waited. That is until the man standing right behind me started to snarl that everything was taking too long. He was loud and nasty.

As a result, I turned and gave the dude one of my scathing looks. You know, the kind that a mom gives to little kids. That “I dare you” stare. As a result, they usually shut up. And finally, they listen.

Therefore, that has been my patterned way of handling my anger management.

Consequently, it got quiet for a moment. Believe me, my look of disgust can stop almost anyone.

Unresolved anger hangs around and can cause burnout.

I slid into my seat. My anger was intense. I wanted to say something nasty. I didn’t.

After that, I got to thinking about my own predicament.

I seem to get angry easier than I did in the past. It also takes me longer to calm down.

For instance, I sat and stewed about this seemingly minor incident for a long time. I wanted to punch that mean jerk for making the man with the suitcase feel small and insignificant.

However, my concern is my inability to let go of anger. I feel like I’m burning up inside much of the time. Thus, I don’t sleep well and often cannot keep my concentration sharp.

Further, the more I burn up, even over small inequities, the closer I am edging toward burnout.

Changing emotional responses is a sign of growth.

You see, I am working on rethinking all my emotional reactions. To clarify, anger is one of the most difficult for me to keep under control. Therefore, I decided that I want some advice on handling upset in a more effective way.

I hope you can help.


Exhausted and Disgusted

Anger is a great teacher.

Dear E&D,

Here is the GPS about anger.

It hits each of us differently. However, most of us fall into one of two camps. We either shout it out or stuff it down.

That is to say; everyone has a definite pattern of how to respond when angry.

What we need are better ways of anger management.

Too much of anything eventually becomes toxic.

Most importantly, have you ever heard the saying, “Too much of anything becomes toxic?”

For example, too much oxygen will cause brain damage. Too much water, and you get a flood. I could go on and on. You get the drift.

Therefore, I am requesting you take a deep look at how you express anger. Head for the middle ground of what I call the safe stress zone.

Practice safe stress to stay healthy.

While that takes some doing, it will keep you from going from anger to burnout.

To clarify, once you learn how to control your triggers to anger, you are in the driver’s seat. You’ll be able to reel in being aggressive, stop feeling aggravated, limit annoyance, lessen anxiety, or being apathetic.

Here are some suggestions to handle anger so you won’t go from burning up to burning out.

Firstly, when angry, STOP. Take a few seconds and drink a glass of water. This is enough time to cool the heat of the upset. No water around? Then take some swigs of air and blow the air out like you are blowing out a flame.

When anger is strong it’s time to pivot.

Secondly, DETACH. Put your hand on your head, neck, or gut. Observe the feelings. Just pay attention to yourself, and the fury will begin to subside. Notice where the anger resides in your body.

In addition. VISUALIZE. See the other (like the man behind you) as a powerless little child. Often, the one who makes others feel like crap is really a frightened child inside. Then you can respond with at least a modicum of compassion.

In conclusion, I believe that how we handle anger is vital to our health and well-being. Neither avoiding nor denying anger works long term. In addition, continuing to fight furiously to be right is costly. Anger management is a major way to keep from burnout.

Practice Safe Stress: It’s good for you, me, everyone.

Here is a white paper where you can learn to practice safe stress. Then you can be more confident and satisfied with what you get as the end result.

To sum up, please do the exercises I suggest here. You are more than welcome to call or email me for more ideas.

With deep appreciation,


PS. Want to do a really deep dive into stress, anger, and burnout? My book Don’t Bring It To Work will give you ways to curb your anger and stop burnout. Here’s what one happy reader said:

When my wife gave me this book my first thought was, “Great, a bug squasher, just what I wanted, who needs Mets tickets anyway.” However, I noticed a change in my wife which intrigued me, and when I called her out on this, she simply said, “Read the book.

As I finally began reading, “Don’t Bring It to Work”, I started seeing my patterns. I started observing my own behavior when I was around my co-workers and family. Then something clicked with me and I finally understood why I felt the way I did around certain people and situations. I have now been working on transforming my behavior patterns and I really like my new perspective and vision of work and my family.

You don’t always get what you want, sometimes you get what you need. “Don’t Bring It to Work” is what I needed to move forward with my work and my family.

Creative Energy Options

Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options