Anger, like all strong emotions, emerges from a confluence of natural forces and personal choices. Becoming aware of “the energy of anger” arising in our bodies allows us to choose our responses and take control of the situation. We can deal with it thoughtfully rather than instinctively. Without that awareness, we just react like insects – stimulus and response.
Many of the situations in which anger arises exist only because our idea of what should be happening in that moment isn’t happening.
Anger provides information about our view of the situation. When we recognise anger, it can serve as a prompt to shift our view from one of resistance to one of acceptance.
Struggle with anger? You're probably aware that sometimes it can come from specific triggers. What about situations that shouldn’t necessarily anger you? Outbursts can upset the people around you and could even leave you feeling guilty after the fact. The point is, there are a few ways to manage your anger before it negatively impacts you and those around you.
DEALING WITH ANGER IN THE MOMENT
If you know you’re quick to respond in a situation, it would be worth your while to learn some in-the-moment methods to calm yourself down.
Know your triggers
Explore what makes you angry. You might notice patterns or specific triggers that occur in multiple situations. If you know what they are, you can identify them as or before they happen, meaning you can deal with them in the moment.
Think before you speak
This isn’t a surprise. We all say things in the heat of the moment that we know we’ll regret. Take control of your words by breathing and thinking through what you are about to say. You’re less likely to say something that stems from unrelated issues and are more likely to express your feelings about that specific moment. Collect your thoughts before saying anything — and allow others to do the same.
Calm down before you express yourself
“Okay, just calm down” is enough to send anyone into a head-spin! Instead of waiting for someone to frustrate you more, calm yourself down first. Once you're calm (ish), express the reason for your frustration and anger – in a non-confrontational way. Try to be clear and direct without being controlling or hurtful. Use I to express your feelings rather than you.
Don’t play the blame game
In many situations anger feels like a result of someone else’s action or inaction. When you’re confronting and expressing your anger, avoid criticising or blaming the other person, as it might only heighten the tension. Try to “turn your anger towards yourself”. Fo example, “I get frustrated when it seems you don’t respect my time” rather than, “you are never on time.”
Learn to laugh it off
Pent up anger isn’t good for your heart or that furrowed brow. Lighten up and get yourself laughing. Learn to laugh – even if you just “can’t believe the stupidity of something.” If you’re using humour to diffuse a situation, try not to be sarcastic, it can often come out bitter and make things worse.
LONG-TERM ANGER MANAGEMENT
Dealing with things in the moment is always useful, but managing your anger long-term is equally, if not more, important.
Exercise and physical activity are known to help reduce stress and anger. Physical exertion is a good way to rid yourself of any anger you may be bottling up. Put your energy and frustration into the exercise – some people run, some people box, others take our movement classes for a calmer release.
Tantrums and consequential timeouts can be adult things too. You might be older and able to deal with yourself, but taking short breaks when things get stressful is a good idea. If you have a few moments to collect yourself before stressful or triggering situations, you’ll likely feel better prepared to handle things without getting irritated or angry.
Find a solution before you react
If something that makes you angry depends on someone else’s action, try to resolve the issue before you have an outburst. A good example is when your partner consistently does something that aggravates you. If they are always late, make sure you have effective things to do in the time you are waiting – scheduling, reading etc. Instead of focusing on what made you angry, work on resolving the issue at hand. Remind yourself that anger won't fix anything and might only make it worse – then try to resolve the issue when you're both calm, keeping "the blame game" both in mind and at bay!
Learn to forgive
Forgiveness is a powerful tool. Allowing negativity and anger to overshadow positivity will only lead to bitterness and a quicker temper down the line. If you can forgive the people who have angered you, it’s possible to learn from the situation. You can’t control everyone’s behaviour, but you can control how you respond to it.
Use relaxation techniques
If you can feel the steam coming out your ears, then find a relaxation technique that’ll work for you. Deep breathing, picturing your most relaxed state, or even repeating a certain phrase or playing music can all help calm you down. You might think these suggestions sound cheesy, but if you let them, they can actually work. If you combine these techniques with removing yourself from the situation, you’re far more likely to react in a calmer manner.
Get proper help
Controlling your anger is challenging – especially if you have never dealt with it properly. Anger management classes are an option, so is speaking to a professional. If you can’t manage on your own and want to change how you manage to your emotions, it’s never too late to get help – both you and the people around you will benefit from the results.