Do you get angry when someone cuts you off in traffic? Does your blood pressure soar when your child refuses to cooperate? Anger is a normal and even healthy emotion, but it’s important to learn to deal with it in a positive way. Uncontrolled anger can ruin both your health and your relationships.
For this reason we all need to have tools in our toolbox to deal with the anger that comes up in our lives. We need to reduce both our emotional feelings and the physiological reactions that anger causes. You can’t get rid of, or avoid, the things or the people that enrage you, nor can you change them, but you can learn to control your own reactions.
“If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.”Chinese Proverb
Here are some suggestions on ways to control your anger:
- Take a breath before you say anything you may later regret. By taking a breather, you allow the other person to also stop and think before reacting. Use a relaxing mantra to help your body relax. Use yoga, journaling, or music to help you to calm down.
- Express your anger in a calm even voice. Be clear and direct without hurting or trying to control any other person. State your feelings and needs clearly without trying to change anyone else. Use “I” statements in your explanations. For example, “I get nervous when you don’t call to let me know you are going to be late” instead of “You never call when you are late.”
- Move your body! Physical activity can help reduce the stress that can cause you to become angry. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run, or spend some time doing other enjoyable physical activities.
- Take a timeout. This reminds me of when my children were young. I would often walk away and give myself a chance to calm down. A few moments of quiet time might help you feel better prepared to handle what’s ahead without losing your cool.
- Determine possible solutions to the situation that is making you angry. Instead of focusing on what is making you mad, what would it take to ease the tension. If your partner is always late coming home from work, plan on the arrival for later than he/she says. If you are told 30 minutes, then plan on an hour. This way you do not feel frustrated when he/she does not show up in 30 minutes.
- Let go of the anger. Forgive and forget is not easy but an essential act if you want to feel peace. Do not let these negative feelings cause a poison to fester in your relationships. Forgiveness is a powerful tool. Your relationship will grow stronger and chances are you both might learn something new.
- Laugh a little. Try and think of the situation using your sense of humor. This will help diffuse the tension and allow you to see things in a new way. Sarcasm, however, can be very hurtful and should be avoided.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”Buddha
During this very contentious time in our country we all need to be thinking of ways to control our anger. As opposed to feeling mad at someone close to us, many of us are feeling anger at a certain group of people, most of whom we don’t even know. It is important to avoid letting situations that are out of our control take over our emotions. Calmly and peacefully handling our anger is the best way to have a positive impact on others.