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Step-By-Step Guide: How To Manage Your Anger

Step-By-Step Guide: How To Manage Your Anger
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You don’t feel proud, but sometimes you can’t help it. Anger takes control of the situation and you end up embarrassing yourself in public, or entering in a discussion you didn’t want to. Sometimes it is nobody’s fault, just a series of bad circumstances piling up until the outburst happens. The main point is that you didn’t want to get so mad, but you did. You snapped. And then everything was a mess despite your best try to keep it down.

You have to know that this happens to all of us. Anger is powerful and necessary: it serves a function. But it shouldn’t rule your life. You are in control. Looking into the past has no use, my friend. Take a deep breath and let it go. It is time to focus on doing better the next time anger takes the best of you.

Just a warning: This will require your entire commitment and determination, so if you are expecting a “count ten” or “relax” kind of article, you better move to another one. But if you follow the instructions, I promise that anger will never rule again your life.

1. To Stop the Gun You Need to Know What Is the Trigger

Anger might be more or less accepted, but let’s be honest: it is part of the human behavior. It helps us to understand things that make us feel uncomfortable, threatened or upset. However, how we manage it is our choice.

The first step to assure your victory in this battle is dating your enemy. It is impossible to fight a fear if you don’t know what it is. To know how anger plays you each time you snap, you have to get underneath its skin.

It is vital that you understand why.

Here are repeated patterns that people feel identified with:

  • Have you feel that something was unfair? Probably you have been blamed (even punished) for something you weren’t responsible for.
  • Have you feel you were losing control? Your job was threatened, your partner broke up with you, or a great opportunity passed by.
  • Have you feel physical or emotional pain? A rough discussion or a bad injury that persisted.
  • Have you feel threatened? Somebody criticized your work or said you could do better.

These are common causes to get really stressed out, even mad. Nobody likes not being rewarded for a good job or deal with a messy house when you get home tired. You and I, we both have expectations that need to be fulfilled, and when that is cut short, frustration reveals itself.

Do not underestimate the relevance of this step.

Identifying your triggers is the main key to manage your anger correctly. You are a smart, strong individual and you can do better than a temper tantrum when you don’t get your way. Take a few moments to think about some things that trigger your frustrations: from the way somebody talked to you yesterday to the annoying traffic lights.

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2. Feeding the Wrong Habit

Anger is a habit —not a good one, of course. You might not have thought about it, but the same way that as soon as you wake up you [get dressed / brush your teeth / drink a glass of water whatever that applies], when you see something that doesn’t fit your expectations, anger skyrockets.

Take a quick look to these habits:

  • Waking up is the trigger  brushing your teeth is the reaction — fresh sensation in your mouth is your reward.
  • A sudden twist of your plans is the trigger — anger is the reaction  releasing the frustration through a tantrum is your reward.
  • The alarm is the trigger — hitting the snooze is the reaction — having 5 more minutes to sleep off is the reward.

And we love those 5 more minutes.

Habits, no matter how complicated they are, are always constructed by these three basic elements. The problem is that you have interiorized anger as your natural reaction and you no longer think about it: that is the tricky aspect of habits.

Charles Duhigg does a great job explaining habits’ formation and how they rule our lives on The Power of Habit. It is a simple process that if you conquer today, will give you an incredible power and control over your own decisions. Habits are a loop of actions and reactions you perform unconsciously. Master your awareness and you will triumph over your habits —and of course, over your anger.

Here is a simple exercise:

If you have already identified some of your triggers, fill up the blanks to get a bigger picture. This will help you to clarify the process and move to the next step.

[blank] is my trigger  [blank] is my reaction  [blank] is my reward

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3. Breaking the Chain of Reactions

Once you are aware about how your habit looks like, it is time to change it. And here is where it gets awkward. Bear with me. You and I have heard thousands of times “relax”, “count until 10”, etc. All lies.

Let’s face it: when your anger gets to the dangerous point of a boiling pot, there are not many chances to stop it. Relaxing techniques work when you are able to realize you are getting into a hazardous area, not when you are already in it. That is about awareness and it takes longer to master.

So instead of trying to breathe and take control over the situation —which you have failed to do hundreds of time—, try to do something absolutely radical.

Don’t think: Just do it.

  • Shut up, stand up and jump.
  • Tell a bad joke.
  • Sing a song.

Yes, you read me well. Do something absolutely ridiculous and not related.

Don’t call me crazy yet. What we are doing here is breaking a habit right in the middle of its process.

The faster way to stop your next fight is link a completely different reaction to the habit. When you are about to break down, I promise that if you switch what you are doing before (or even during) letting the anger out, all the hard feelings will go away in a second. However, don’t leave the situation. You are not avoiding it, just cutting the habit.

You might feel embarrassed but the frustration will automatically cease because in the end, we are more in control of it than we like to think. Next time, you will remember the feeling and your frustration will slow down. If you don’t believe me, give it a shoot and come back later amazed by its effect.

You might be wondering…

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If it works, why nobody is doing this?

Easy: they focus on the wrong strategy.

Many people believe that if you acquire a deeper understanding on how your anger works, you will be able to stop it by snapping your fingers. “Let’s dig into the root of the problem!

There are only two ways to change your behavior: you avoid the trigger or you switch the reaction. I want you to understand this because my goal is that you regain control. I am not trying to “stop” anger since it is a natural feeling —and a useful one. I am preventing you from letting it get to your nerves and rule your life.

Once you have cut the process several times, you will be able to discern the moments before anger drives you completely nuts. That is the point you want to achieve. Then, you will be able to take it easy and act rationally.

4. Letting the Anger Go Away

People say that one shouldn’t let the anger out, but if you don’t get rid of it eventually it will be more harmful.

This doesn’t mean you have to yell or create an uncomfortable silence: there are ways to let it out without making a scene that actually help to tame your temper. Getting upset is a sign that something is not going as you expected and that generates frustration. It is a natural warning sign.

Sometimes, the frustration grows so fast that it bursts into pure anger. Once you are able to prevent the “boom!” by managing your anger, it is time to release the frustration in a healthier way. Breaking things, screaming to the nothingness or doing whatever you used to do during a tantrum, it is not the way.

What you create by doing that is another bad habit. You are not crushing it, just pushing it away for a little bit.

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Once the tension is gone, it is a good moment to reflect and talk. If you don’t like sharing feelings with others, you can always write it down or go somewhere to write anonymously (Reddit will do for this). This way you are opening a door to kick out your frustration.

However, don’t fall into these commons mistakes:

  • Don’t focus on the problem: this means, don’t over think it. Try to identify the trigger and then, let it be in the past.
  • Don’t blame others: reflection is time to heal, not to judge.
  • Don’t get stuck on the things you did wrong: find the things you have done differently this time.
  • If you didn’t change the pattern, don’t be too hard on yourself. Try to acknowledge what went wrong.

By doing these you are not only approaching a different way to release the frustration, you are also redefining a new pattern of thinking. This is called Cognitive Restructuring, and it helps you to deal with problems differently. To reinforce this pattern, you can ask yourself these questions and answer sincerely:

  • Could you have avoided the trigger?
  • Could you have approached the situation differently?
  • Do you regret something you did or said?
  • Should ask for forgiveness?

5. Changing Your Habits is Changing Your Life

There are many other practices you can add on top of these ones to create a more solid and consistent habit to manage your anger. The easiest one is avoid your triggers, right?

If you know that getting stuck in traffic won’t help your morning, try to leave home earlier so you skip the rush-hours. If fast food hurts your stomach, find a please were you can get healthier meals for the week. There is a solution for almost every problem: be wise.

Meditating, learning breathing techniques, even seeking professional help or supportive groups are a great core of resources to have on mind. Taming your anger it is not a sign of weakness but a sign of self-discipline.

There is no need to get overwhelmed by your frustrations and make a scene each time something goes wrong, ruinning your day. You are better than that. You are in control of your anger therefore you are in control of your life. Acknowledging this will make you more confident and strong.

Next time, you won’t feel embarrassed; you will be proud.

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Featured photo credit: Stefan Kunze via albumarium.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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