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

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

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.

Featured photo credit: Stefan Kunze via albumarium.com

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

Expressing Anger

Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

Being Passive-Aggressive

This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.

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Poorly-Timed

Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

Ongoing Anger

Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

Healthy Ways to Express Anger

What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

Being Honest

Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

Being Direct

Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

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Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

Being Timely

When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

How to Deal With Anger

If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

1. Slow Down

From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

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When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

2. Focus on the “I”

Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

3. Work out

When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

If you’re not sure where to start with an exercise routine, check out Lifehack’s free Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan.

4. Seek Help When Needed

There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.

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5. Practice Relaxation

We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

6. Laugh

Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

7. Be Grateful

It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

Final Thoughts

Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go or motivated. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

More Resources on Anger Management

Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

Reference

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