Everyone gets angry from time to time. Stress, snide remarks, and difficult situations pile up. Anger is a natural reaction.
But while anger might be inevitable, the way you express it isn’t. Letting anger take control and boil over isn’t a smart idea. The truth is, losing control usually causes far more harm than good.
With this in mind, the best approach when you feel anger is to take a step back. Control your anger in a way that’s better for both you and the people around you. It might sound hard, but with a little practice, you can be the master of your emotions. This is much better for you than yelling and shouting ever would be.
Try these ideas the next time anger mounts:
Anger can be hard to control when it first bubbles up. If you have a tendency to explode, excusing yourself for a moment is the best approach. Then, take 5 to 10 deep breaths to relax before returning. People may wonder why you walked away, but it’s a lot better than saying something you’d regret later.
Being rational and feeling angry rarely go hand in hand, but take a moment to think about why you feel anger. Sometimes it’s because of the way you see a situation and not a problem with someone else. In fact, the other person may not be trying to anger or insult you at all. It might just seem that way. Force yourself to take a step back and ask, “Is this worth getting angry over?” Then think about whether you should take action or just drop it.
If you’re working yourself into a fury, try to shift your thoughts to something funny. Nothing can calm a crisis like humor. It might just put the situation into perspective and help you realize that it’s not that big a deal.
Modern technology is certainly convenient, but it can also cause trouble if you send a hasty email or text message without thinking clearly. To prevent this, use a word processing document to draft a note instead of an email to vent. It’s too easy to accidentally hit “reply to all” or “send” in an email. Write down all your thoughts and feelings, but just for yourself. Often the very act of writing will help you calm down. Then do nothing for a day or at least a few hours until you can more calmly figure out what to do—or not do.
This is important if your anger is at your child. Find a good book that will tell you what’s normal at certain stages of child development. This will help you calm the anger you may feel when your toddler shows off her new haircut, the one she gave herself! When your child loses your cell phone, fidgets in a restaurant, or has a tantrum at the mall, she’s probably not trying to anger you. She just may not be old enough to sit still for more than a few minutes, handle a rush of bright lights and noise, or resist your nice gadget. Your anger may be natural, but you need to control the way you express it. Instead of name-calling, try telling your child you’re upset that she lost your cell and ask her to look for it with you.
Put your hands in your pockets if you feel the urge. Model the kind of behavior you’d like to see. Hitting your child will teach him or her that might makes right and that violence is the way to solve conflicts. It will encourage fighting and other aggressive behavior. Telling your child calmly what you want done and use specific directions. Showing him that you can control your temper will help your child learn how to control his. If you’re having trouble disciplining your children without hitting, call a parenting hotline or enroll in a parenting class on positive discipline. These are often available at your local YMCA or community center.
It’s certainly not healthy to hold in your anger. This can lead to health problems down the road. Respect your anger. If it is telling you that something is wrong and needs to change, think of a constructive way to talk about the problem. Fight fair. Don’t blame, threaten, call names, ridicule, or issue ultimatums, even if you feel like it. Also, don’t use words like “never” and “always.” Try using “I” rather than “you” statements, such as “I don’t like it when you do X” instead of “You always do X.” Keep your goal in mind and work toward it.
Anger can be a healthy emotion if you know how to control it. If you can analyze your anger and decide whether to take action or simply let it go, then you have managed anger in a healthy way, not a destructive one.
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