Some people are prone to rage more often than others, but anger is a feeling that many of us could use a bit of help in handling. The choices we make when angry can often come back to haunt us, but the cycle can be hard to break. Anger has power—but there are healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with that power, from letting it control you to wielding it in a way that spurs you on to something positive.
Have you noticed that no matter how many times you remind yourself that getting angry is not good, yet when the emotion comes you are unable to control it. All through your childhood you have only learnt that ‘You should not get angry’ but the question remains ‘How to control anger?’. What do you do when this thunderstorm of emotions comes?
Well, let’s understand the root cause of anger and simple tips by which you can tame your own anger.
Pretending you’re not angry—especially while exhibiting nearly cartoonish physical signs of anger—does no good for you, the target of your anger, or your blood pressure. Admitting that you are upset, whether to yourself, or as calmly as possible to the person you’re in conflict with can validate your feelings. This in turn can help you feel more empowered toward working toward a solution, and it will also diminish the conflict within yourself.
List things that can trigger your anger
Make a list of the things that often set off your anger (for example, running late for an
appointment and not being able to find a car park, your teenager leaving dirty dishes in the sink or a co-worker blaming you for something you didn’t do). If you know ahead of time what makes you angry, you may be able to avoid these things or do something different when they happen.
Control your thinking
When you’re angry, your thinking can get exaggerated and irrational. Try replacing these kinds of thoughts with more useful, rational ones and you should find that this has an effect on the way you feel. For example, instead of telling yourself ‘I can’t stand it, it’s awful and everything’s ruined’, tell yourself ‘It’s frustrating, and it’s understandable that I’m upset about it, but it’s not the end of the world and getting angry is not going to fix it’.
Search for something good
If you’re still feeling steamed from that interaction with your colleague or that snarky tone from the person in line at the coffee shop, it might be time to make a list of the things you’re grateful for. Gratitude meditations, or just sitting and focusing on what’s right in your life, will make what you’re angry about seem more molehill than mountain. You might also choose to think about the person whom you think has wronged you, and imagine what unique challenges they may be reacting to. Think about the ways that they could use some empathy, and try to mentally give it to them—that can often neutralize anger.
A familiar strategy for managing anger is to distract your mind from the situation that is making you angry. Try counting to ten, playing soothing music, talking to a good friend, or focusing on a simple task like polishing the car or folding laundry.
Relaxation strategies can reduce the feelings of tension and stress in your body. Taking a few deep breaths in and out will instantly help you drop anger. The moment you become angry, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths and observe the change in your state of mind. Breath releases stress and helps your mind calm down.
Rehearsing anger management skills
Try rehearsing some anger management strategies with a friend. Ask them to help you act out a situation where you get angry, so that you can practise other ways to think and behave. Practise saying things in an assertive way. Use your imagination to practise your anger management strategies. Imagine yourself in a situation that usually sets off your anger. Imagine how you could behave in that situation without getting angry.
Just 20 minutes of daily meditation is sufficient for the whole day. You will notice that even if you do get angry, you become calm faster and more easily. Even a guided meditation can be the solution.
You are what you eat!
Have you noticed that on certain days you feel very calm and relaxed, and on some days, you are very restless? This is because the food you eat greatly affects your mind and your emotions. Certain types of food bring restlessness and tension in the mind and body. Avoiding such food – mainly non-vegetarian, spicy and oily foods, will help you to reduce your tendency to anger.
Fortunately, the process on how to control anger doesn’t have to be difficult. Like anything else, you just have to make the decision to learn what to do. These skills are simple, but not easy and that’s why continuing to practice them is so critical. It is important to treat yourself gently when you fall short.