The Mayo Clinic says: “Anger management is the process of learning to recognize signs that you’re becoming angry, and taking action to calm down and deal with the situation in a productive way. Anger management doesn’t try to keep you from feeling anger or encourage you to hold it in. Anger is a normal, healthy emotion when you know how to express it appropriately — anger management is about learning how to do this.”
So while it is important to validate your feelings and experience your anger, it’s also important to have constructive ways to bring yourself to a place of peace.
Here are 5 tips to help you the next time you feel like you’re boiling over:
1. Restructure your thinking.
This may sound like a big task, but what it really means is to replace your bitter, angry thoughts with something rational. This way, you can make it through situations that you would normally rage about. For example, you’re at the post office. You are standing in line when you notice one of the customer service agents leave to go on break. This may make you later than you thought, you consider, and start boiling over. Instead of that, replace those thoughts with rational ones, like “there is nothing I can do about this” or “I’ll stay calm, this situation is out of my control”. Making a cognitive effort to restructure how you think about a situation will make it easier and faster to do in the future.
2. Practice Relaxation.
I don’t get angry easily, and I don’t consider myself an angry person, but as soon as I typed “practice relaxation” I did a quick breath exercise. Belly breaths are useful in dealing with anger, as are mantras, like “I’m in control of my feelings” and “Relax” and “Take it easy”. Meditation can be a helpful tool, as can simple breath work. Imagery can also help, imagining a peaceful surrounding, your child’s smile, whatever makes you happy.
3. Make your listening skills a priority.
What does listening have to do with anger management? When we actively listen to the other person instead of just waiting for our chance to speak, we improve our communication, which lessens the chance of getting angry.
4. Forgive and Forget.
Forgiveness is a powerful tool to help defuse anger. If you can forgive someone, you’re showing that nobody else has any control over you. Ruminating on the situation will only lead to more anger, bitterness, and pessimism. Also, if you forgive someone, they may be surprised and see this as an opportunity to be true to one’s word.
5. Find an outlet.
Instead of focusing on what made you angry, focus on finding a resolution for your anger instead. Is you kid being disruptive? Find something that will occupy them. Is a friend or member of your family doing something that gets your goat? Set definitive boundaries or calm down & have a useful dialogue. If you can’t calm down it might be time to exit the situation for a few minutes to give yourself a breather.
Remember that when we really try to make a conscious effort to rationalize our thoughts and work out a situation rather than (proverbially) set it on fire, a good outcome it more likely. Also, it invites peace and calm into our lives.