Anger is an intense emotional response experienced when personal boundaries are violated. Renowned anger management writer William DeFoore describes anger as a “pressure cooker” which pressure can only be applied against briefly before it explodes. The most common manifestation of anger is in facial expressions and body language however it also has behavioural and cognitive components. However, these behaviours are entirely under an individual’s control. By applying the following tips, you will learn how to manage your anger, so the situation does not escalate.
Think before you speak: Although it is easy to say and much harder to do, this is one of the best ways to avoid a meltdown. During an argument, we often say things we do not mean and later regret. By thinking before you speak, you can articulate your feelings more effectively and often get the required results.
Once calm, express your feelings: When you’re thinking clearly, express your needs and frustration in a productive and assertive way. Explain your concerns to the other party without hurting their feelings or trying to manipulate them. Expressing your feelings promotes open discussion, allowing all involved to have their feelings heard.
Take a timeout: Timeouts can be just as useful for adults as kids. Taking short breaks during stressful times of day will keep you calm and focused. A few moments of quiet reflection will help organise your thoughts, ensuring you are less likely to feel angry or frustrated.
Identify possible solutions: Rather than concentrating on what made you upset, try to solve the issue at hand. In other words, by locating and dealing with the source of the problem, it will no longer be a source of angst for you. Do your children turn the TV up too loud? Go to another room. Does your partner always miss dinner? Arrange to eat later. Simple solutions bring positive results.
Use ‘I’ statements: Criticising and blame only increases tension during an argument. To avoid this and to explain the problem more clearly, use ‘I’ statements. For example, say: “I am annoyed that you didn’t offer to cook dinner tonight,” instead of: “You are so lazy; you never pitch in with the housework.”
Don’t hold grudges: When someone has wronged you, it is natural to be angry with them. Holding on to negative feelings will crowd out positive feelings, and you may find yourself consumed by a sense of injustice. Forgiveness is a powerful tool. By forgiving the person who wronged you, negative feelings toward them will cease and they may learn something from the experience too.
Practice relaxation: Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation work wonders to defuse anger. When you feel anger growing, find a quiet space to relax. You may listen to music, do yoga, or write in a journal. Whatever technique you choose, relaxation will calm your body and mind.
Next time you feel yourself getting angry take a moment to follow the steps above. Above all else, they are designed to help you think clearly and place the cause of your anger into perspective. By not reacting instinctively to your anger, you will respond and feel calmer and have your feelings heard.