“How many times have I told you ..?”
“Why can’t you…”
“Why do I have…”
“Don’t do ..”
This used to be my limited vocabulary at home a few years ago! In those days, I would yell at the drop of a hat (literally!) at my kids. My temper would flare every few minutes when things were not done my way. I had expectations in my head that I would voice to my family. Invariably someone would not live up to the expectations and I would be screaming my top off! I hated myself right after the words slipped out of my mouth, but I would not stop. I would cry all the way to work in the car. I would tell myself this would not happen again and 3 minutes after entering home in the evening, it did!
I almost considered anger management classes until one day I chanced upon a technique quite by accident. Below I share this and a few other easy techniques I have learnt from other likable people. These techniques are now part and parcel of my life.They have improved the quality of my life and made me more likable with my family and others!
1. Count To 5
I was at a playground with my son a few years ago. At one point, a little boy came crying to his mom and pointed to my son and started bawling. My temper immediately began to flare up and I was going to take my son to the side and berate him. I called to my son. As my son came running towards me with a happy face, I was torn. I did not want to wipe that happiness from his face which was due to happen the minute I opened my mouth. I decided to give him and me, 5 seconds to enjoy the happiness. As I began to count to 5, he started talking. I learnt that the little boy was almost about to fall from the rock climbing wall and my son had helped him gain balance. I was stunned! The little boy was crying in the anticipation of the fall and that his mom had not been there to catch him! The 5 seconds that I had given myself had turned the story around. That’s when I decided to make the 5 seconds count a part of my life. You never know what the 5 seconds will produce or how it could change the course of the events. Next time, you feel the temper coming on, count to 5. Combine it with technique 2 below for best results!
2. Focus On Your Breath
Once I started being completely aware of my temper, I began to notice the feeling of constriction in my chest every time I was angry. I was forgetting to breathe at times or taking quick short shallow breathes. I decided to work on that. The minute I felt the constriction, I reminded myself to just breathe deeply. Take 3 deep breathes. Fill you lungs with oxygen and focus only on your breathe. This can be tied to the first technique. In the 5 seconds you pause, you are counting the seconds literally! You could instead focus on breathing deeply during the 5 second pause. Sometimes people forget to breathe deeply when they are so emotionally vested in the matter. They can’t stop their focus on the issue. The trick is to tie it to a physical action or sensation and use that as a trigger. In my case, I used the chest constriction as a trigger to focus on deep breathing.
3. Go For A Run Or Exercise
The heat in your body and the frustration and anger need an outlet. What better way to channel that high level of energy (although it is negative energy) than to exercise. Going for a walk or exercising gives you a chance to direct that energy towards a physical activity and lets you blow off some steam. It also gives you a chance to take a prolonged pause and maybe think about the thing that is bothering you.
4. Splash Your Face
Some people like to throw things or slam doors when they are angry. I always wondered how it provided them relief. I later learnt that a physical sensation such as an object breaking or hearing the door slam snaps some people out of their temper zone. I have instead adopted a simpler technique to snap out. I simply splash my face with cold water at the sink. Just the sudden feeling of cold water on my face snaps me out and cools me down.
5. Avoid Known Trigger Points
If you know stepping into your son’s room and seeing clothes on the floor is going to irk you, avoid that situation. Obviously, you can’t avoid it always and you may need to step in and clean up at some point. Try to avoid doing it at a time when your emotions are running high. You may be in a better state to handle that trigger point at a different time in the day , maybe when you are more relaxed with a cup of coffee.
6. Meditate Daily
The health benefits of meditation are numerous. It has been proven to improve our mental well-being and lower our overall stress levels. Stress is a huge temper booster and we need to keep our stress levels at bay to reduce the temper tantrums. If you think that your monkey mind cannot be quietened during meditation, try a different form of meditation such as transcendental meditation.
7. Write It Out
Writing it out in a journal or a log helps you get it out of your system which is exactly what the temper devil is dying to do! Writing helps you vent out all your feelings and gives you a sense of relief. You could revisit it a later point and either tear it up or see if you could strategize ideas to sort out the thing that caused your temper to flare up. Writing gives you a way to know that you have control over your problem vs the problem controlling you! This gives you the courage to stop throwing temper tantrums.
Which of these techniques will you use ? What other little things do you do to hold back your temper?
Featured photo credit: Yelling/Probably Okay via flickr.com