Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. – Mark Twain
When engaged in an argument with someone, there are a number of lines of reasoning which I tend to reject out of hand. For example, if someone argues that such and such a policy is virtuous based on the fact that Wall Street has responded positively and stocks have risen, I will call foul. Or, if someone were to give me business advice based on the fact that they have an MBA and therefore know better, I would tell them I could give a hoot about their Master of Business Administration.Advertising
Similarly, the moment someone tells me that such and such a behavior or belief must be correct because it is what the majority of people do or believe, I tune out. It’s usually just not worth continuing the discussion.
Truth be told, Mark Twain’s wise words have gotten me through more than a few dark times in my life. There was that time when the majority of voters in America re-elected a certain president to a second term (I’ll let your imagination run with which one I’m talking about). I consoled myself with the idea that the majority of voters who had re-elected this fellow were likely to be wrong in their judgement, even if they were the majority.Advertising
There was also the time when I decided not to go to a well-regarded Washington D.C. university — where I was set to study international relations and business — and instead to attend an out-of-the-way graduate program in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to study philosophy and the Classics. I bet the majority people would have said I was crazy to give up the chance at such a marketable degree to spend my graduate degree years reading Aristotle and Kant. But I did it anyway.
By now you probably get the picture: I have a certain disdain for the majority opinion.Advertising
There is a fantastic scene in Mad Men where Don Draper voices a similar disdain. His public opinion guru, Dr. Faye Miller, has concluded after focus testing a group of young women that the best way to market a beauty product is to link it to the promise of matrimony. Don had wanted to run a campaign based on the women’s desire to pamper themselves and appear beautiful, but according to the focus group, women just want to get married. “I’m not going to do that,” replies Don, when confronted with the majority opinion.
“I can’t change the truth,” says Dr. Miller.Advertising
“How do you know that’s the truth? A new idea is something they don’t know yet, so of course it’s not going to come up as an option. Put my campaign on TV for a year, then hold your group again, maybe it’ll show up.”
The fact is, there a whole lot of people out there who don’t know what they want until someone tells them. Most people look to their peers to decide what to think and do. It’s a natural way to think, and social norms are an immensely powerful influencing force in our lives — more probably than we care to acknowledge. We look to our peers for guidance on any number of mundane and significant life matters, from what to wear, to what career to pick, to what sort of woman or man to marry.Advertising
What Mark Twain knew in his time, as he wrote American classics like Huckleberry Finn (or my personal Twain favorite, The Mysterious Stranger), was that any time you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. Think on this the next time you are tempted to enter a market that is already crowded with dozens of startups. Or the next time investors dump a particular stock en masse. Or the next time the NY Times travel page recommends an “off the beaten track” vacation destination. Because trust me, if the NY Times is publishing it in its travel section, it is no longer off the beaten track.
At this point I must note the customary disclaimer that yes, in some instances the majority will indeed be in the right. But that doesn’t mean it’s still not time to pause and reflect.
Last Updated on January 5, 2022
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.
Table of Contents
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:
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.
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.
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 to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.
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.
Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 10 Anger Management Lessons No One Should Miss
- 20 Things to Do When You Feel Extremely Angry
- How To Let Go Of Anger When You Just Can’t Stop Thinking About It
- 20 Effective Ways to Control a Bad Temper
Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com
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