- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
Anger is a feeling we all experience from time to time. In some situations, it can be a motivational experience that drives us to do better things. Anger can also help us to work through painful experiences like the passing o77f a friend or loved one. Anger can also be detrimental if we let it go unchecked.
Sometimes things like office politics, a rough daily commute, or even trouble at home can trigger angry emotions. Those emotions can be a problem if they lead to aggression, verbal outbursts, destruction of property, or physical altercations. Having the skills to manage your anger when it arises will help you avoid acting out negatively. Having the right tools in place could save you from adverse consequences.
Lucky for you, there are anger management tools you can learn and use when you find yourself in a tough spot. Things like pattern interrupt, mindfulness techniques, and self-awareness can change the game. You can also use tried and true methods like “I” statements and simply taking a time-out.
Here are a few anger management methods that work for most people.
RECOGNIZE WHEN YOU ARE BECOMING ANGRY
One of the best tools to manage anger is to see it for what it is. Anger is simply an emotion. It is an emotion we all feel from time to time. Some people feel it in different ways and in different areas of the body. It may be that you experience tightness in your cheeks or a feeling of being hot. Some folks feel it as tension in their neck or shoulders while others experience anger in their chest.
The next time you are angry try to recognize the places in your body where there is a physical change. Remember what those changes feel like. Try to remember the sensation from start to finish. If you see something that makes you mad and you suddenly feel a lump in your throat, remember that. Knowing how you feel in your body when you are angry can serve as an early warning system.
If you can recognize your sensations of anger, you may be able to get out ahead of them. Knowing what anger feels like as it arises within your means you can catch it before it gets out of control. Paying attention to your early warning system might give you the time to head it off at the pass.
INTERRUPT THE PATTERN
When you recognize that you are becoming angry it is time to do something different. Doing something different allows you to distract your mind. You see, when people feel anger, they tend to feed it. Anger often comes with a sense of confusion and bewilderment. People lose track of what to do and how to react. But if you have the power to recognize it, you have the power to change it.
So how do you interrupt the anger pattern? One good way to do that is with deep breathing. Three to six deep breaths in and out will give your body time to adjust to the chemical reaction. It will slow down the often-confusing process of becoming angry and give you a few seconds to regroup. At this point, you can excuse yourself from the situation or redirect your attention to another task.
Other pattern interrupts could be squeezing a stress ball, splashing some cool water in your face, or taking a walk around the block. All of these are useful. They allow you to have the time to get some perspective and let yourself cool down.
A great tool that comes from therapeutic sources is emotional labeling. You can think of it as calling your emotions out. It has been proven that naming our emotions helps to reduce their power to affect our moods and behaviors. It signals the brain by letting your emotion receptors know that you are aware things are not going according to plans.
Our brains have a system for regulating emotional reactions to given scenarios. Scientists discovered that when we say something like, “Oh this is anger mixed with frustrations,” is weakens the emotion. It is another mindful way to recognize emotions that could be detrimental is acted upon.
But even with all these self-regulating tricks, there still may come a time where you must confront an emotional situation head-on. It may be a dispute with a colleague, a misunderstanding with a family member, or even a stranger at the local grocery store. Being able to defuse the situation and observe boundaries will help to keep everything as calm and cool as possible.
COMMUNICATING WHEN ANGRY
Sometimes you will not be able to avoid angry communication. It is unfortunate and nobody likes it, but we are all only human. Try your best not to react to anger with anger. If the person you are in a disagreement with says something that makes you mad, do not say something that will make them mad.
Stick to the main problem and try to focus on solutions. When we are emotional it can be easy to drift away from the topic. This can make the problem worse. Stay focused on what the core of the problem is and direct your words toward resolving the issue. That may mean you have to make concessions. They might have to as well.
Learn to use “I” statements. Saying something like, “I am angry because you ______,” is far better than “You made me mad…” Example one keeps ownership of the emotion on you while illustrating why you are angry. Example two sounds accusatory. That is only going to make matters worse.
Explore the many ways you can manage anger and confrontational situations. It will save you from wasted time, energy, and undue stress. Learning how to manage and regulate your anger will give you the presence of mind to defuse the anger of others should the situation arise. There are plenty of great books, YouTube videos, and blog posts out there to help you along your path.
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Thought leaders & celebrities share their tactics for success on the Lisnic podcast by Lisa Teh & Nick Bell