Controlling Your Anger: What You Need to Know

Are you an angry person?  Do you find yourself experiencing anger frequently as the result of frustrations in your life?  Does this anger ever cause you to take actions you later wind up regretting or to alienate the people you’re close to?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you might have an anger problem!

Anger itself is a normal human response to negative stimuli.  But when this reaction is left unchecked, it can do serious damage to your relationships and to your personal brand.

Fortunately, it is possible to take control of your anger through a combination of techniques.  The reality is that anger isn’t an uncontrollable process – it’s a habit that we’ve allowed ourselves to get into for dealing with unpleasant experiences.  And just like any of the other habits in our lives, it’s one that can be changed with patience and concerted effort!

So if you’re tired of feeling like your temper is always getting the best of you, consider any of the following anger management techniques:

Technique #1 – Identify and avoid your anger triggers

Because we can think of anger as a habit we’ve developed (rather than a biological response we have no control over), it’s also possible to identify the specific elements in our lives that trigger anger.  Knowing what your specific triggers are is an important part of learning how to cope effectively in an unpredictable, often-stressful world.

Just as an example, many people struggle with road rage, which can produce anger through a wide variety of triggers, such as being cut off or being stuck behind a slow driver.

Once you’ve identified your own anger triggers, take the necessary steps to avoid these situations.  In this case, as a driver, you can choose to leave a wider cushion between your car and other vehicles to minimize the chances of being cut off, or you can choose to travel on roads with multiple lanes to avoid feeling trapped behind others.

Technique #2 – Map out better approaches to dealing with triggers

Of course, no matter how conscientious you are, you’ll never be able to avoid every single one of your anger triggers – that is, unless you stay inside your house all day with no exposure to other people!

For this reason, it’s important to have other coping mechanisms in your toolbox that allow you to diffuse tension on the fly as needed.  One way to do this is to map out better responses to the unavoidable triggers that provoke you to anger.

Start by listing out the anger triggers in your life that you’re unable to avoid.  Road rage triggers meet this criteria, as do frustrations you encounter at home or in the workplace.  Next, in a separate column beside your list of triggers, take a few seconds to write out why you feel angry in response to these situations.

Continuing with our previous example, if one of your unavoidable anger triggers is being cut off in traffic, you might write, “I feel angry because the other driver acts like he’s more important than me.”

Chances are you’ll find that some of your responses sound pretty silly.  That’s why the final step in the process is to come up with alternative approaches to dealing with these triggers.  In our driving example, a better response to the frustration of being cut off might be something like, “I can choose not to get angry when I’m cut off in traffic because it’s more important to me to be safe.”

Technique #3 – Develop an anger mantra

One final technique to consider when it comes to anger management is the development of your own personal anger mantra.  We’ve discussed the power of affirmations on this site before, and while they might not work well in all circumstances, having a set saying you can repeat to yourself in times of anger and frustration can be quite calming.

There are a couple of things you’ll want to keep in mind about anger as you’re developing your own mantra:

  • Everyone in the world is human – just like you!  Just as you make mistakes or say stupid things, other people do as well.  Choosing patience in light of other peoples’ failings instead of anger is an important part of treating others the way you’d like to be treated.
  • Getting angry hurts you, as well as others.  Experiencing anger results in physical symptoms of illness, including increased blood pressure and higher cortisol levels.  When you allow yourself to choose anger as a response, you’re inflicting harm on yourself (in addition to the harm you cause others as a result of your actions).
  • No one can “make” you angry.  You have the power to choose anger as a response, just as you have the power to let frustrating situations go in order to maintain your own mental health and sanity.

With these factors in mind, create your own anger mantra that can be repeated during times of stress.  For example, getting in the habit of saying something like, “I am in control of my feelings and choose to let go of anger,” whenever you find yourself getting angry can provide the mental stimulus needed to alter your behavior towards healthier, anger-free practices.

 

4 thoughts on “Controlling Your Anger: What You Need to Know

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