Why do you get angry? Is it happening more and more frequently? It’s usually because something happens that you don’t like the results of or specifically, someone hurts, disappoints, embarrasses, insults or frightens you in some way. Recently scores of people have reacted angrily to a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer for killing an unarmed black teenager. Forty-five people have been arrested in the last couple of days for rioting, looting and setting fires to represent their frustration and rage about this event. On a more individual scale, it might be because you feel humiliated at the way your girlfriend is talking with other men at a party so you start to control when and where she is allowed to go. In both cases, the response to the anger is severe and doesn’t work towards solving or overcoming the issue at hand.
The positive side of anger is that it gets you to take a stand and motivate to get something done. However, when you have a short fuse and this energy is used in a physically violent or senseless way it leads to a life characterized by failures at work, in close relationships and even run-ins with the law. If you’ve been on this path and are tired of being overlooked for a promotion, are tired of the drama at home and want to prevent a divorce and have spent enough time caught up in the legal system, learning how to control your angry episodes is the next step you need to take.
To get things going, get involved in an anger management group led by a seasoned expert, read some books on the topic, try some 1-1 sessions with an anger management specialist or take an online class. All of these scenarios will get you started on understanding where your anger is rooted from and will teach how to react differently. There are no instant fixes, but using some of the practices below on a regular basis will definitely help:
1. Respond instead of react. When you are in the heat of the moment, give yourself a time-out and get some physical exercise. Go for a walk in the fresh air, breath deeply, go to the gym, hit the golf course and calm down before continuing the conversation. As you know, your initial response can often be hurtful and destructive.
2. Try journaling. Writing your feelings down and rereading them can be cathartic and help you see things more clearly.
3. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. If you are stuck in the mode that the other person is evil and trying to hurt you, things will never get resolved. Try to take a look at the situation with empathy from their point of view.
4. Talk to yourself in a positive way. Ruminating about how horrible everyone and everything is just keeps you in that angry, negative mode. Change the way you look at the world by focusing on the positive aspects of the situation. “It’s actually good that I didn’t get this promotion right now because I need to focus on finishing up my college degree so I can ultimately get a better paying job.”
Starting the new year out by learning how to control your anger will help you to lower your stress levels and develop a happier, less complicated more fulfilled life.