How to Deal with Anger

Anoyed Woman Looking Out Her Car Window GesturingHave you ever felt so angry that you couldn’t see straight? Anger is one of the most powerful emotions we have to deal with, and it tends to lead us to say and do things we later regret. Countless crimes are committed every day because individuals become consumed by their rage. However, when we go through our lives in a frequent state of anger, our perception of the world around us changes and we become unable to enjoy the simple pleasures in life or tune into the innate joy that we all have within us.

Losing our temper rarely solves any of our problems. On the contrary, frequent angry outbursts can lead to relationship issues, difficulties in work situations, and health concerns, and end up landing us in more trouble in the long run.

So what can you do to avoid blowing up when your blood is boiling over and you are seeing red? Here are 10 tips to help you to keep your anger under control:

  1. Before saying or doing something you are going to regret later, take several deep breaths. Focus on filling your chest and belly with deep inhales, then exhale completely to release the air from your body. Another option is to count slowly to 10 before responding.
  2. If you tend to have a quick fuse, start paying more attention to your body so you can check for early warning signs that you are getting ready to explode, such as increased tension, tightness in your chest, rising blood pressure, and other signs of building anger. As soon as you notice any of these red flags, step away from the situation.
  3. Make sure you consider the negative consequences of taking out your feelings on another. Do you really want to potentially harm or destroy your relationship by losing your temper? Imagine what effect your words might have on the other person.
  4. Learn to become more assertive, rather than aggressive. People often keep their feelings bottled up inside instead of expressing them in a healthy way in order to get their needs met. The emotions then get pushed down until they explode outward, often toward someone unsuspecting. For example, if you are angry at your boss for giving you an unreasonable deadline or amount of work, but don’t say anything to them, you might end up becoming angry at your partner or spouse later for something minor, as you’ve held in your anger all day. Rather than stuffing the feelings inside and then expressing them inappropriately, try to discuss the situation with your boss to see if some type of compromise can be reached. While this will not always resolve the problem, at least you might feel better for attempting to explain your side of the situation.
  5. If you find yourself becoming angry while having a conversation with your partner or a loved one, take a timeout in order to cool down before resuming the conversation. During this time, you can take a walk, exercise, or do another activity that you enjoy in order to let off some steam and work off some of your negative energy.
  6. When you’re feeling really heated about a specific situation, try journaling to get some of your feelings off your chest. You might also write down the pros and cons of different ways of reacting and try to anticipate what the outcome might be, then choose the approach that’s the least hurtful.
  7. Take a few moments to meditate and create some inner stillness. Rather than rehashing the situation over and over again in your mind, tune into the actual place in your body where you’re feeling the anger or tension and breathe into that space. If you practice this technique on a regular basis, you will start to notice an inner shift occurring when you allow the emotion to be present without reacting to it.
  8. Avoid taking things personally. Rather than becoming defensive during an argument, attempt to put yourself in the other person’s shoes for a moment in order to see the situation through their eyes.
  9. Try to look at the bigger picture so that you can gain a better perspective. In the bigger scheme of things, does it really matter that someone cut you off in traffic as long as you arrive at your destination safely?
  10. Practice regular self-care. When we are continually under stress, we tend to have a shorter fuse than when we make time for ourselves on a regular basis. Set aside some time each day to do an activity you enjoy, such as gardening, listening to music, practicing relaxation techniques, taking a leisurely bath, or watching the sunset. These moments not only help us to unwind at the end of a long day, but also remind us of that which is truly important in life.

By understanding how to deal with our anger in a healthier way, we can become more effective at managing the difficulties we are faced with on a day-to-day basis. Anger will never help us to solve any of our problems, but it can cause us to lose sleep, as well as our peace of mind. Learning to control our anger, rather than allowing it to control us, is a critical first step to improving our relationships and starting to experience more joy and happiness in our lives.

If you need help controlling your anger, consider seeking the help of a trained therapist.

© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Wendy Salazar, MFT, therapist in San Diego, California

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Darlene

    August 19th, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    I have a very quick temper and unfortunately there are no warning signs- when I explose and get mad, well that’s it. It explode and then it’s over and done.

    Usually I am left with a lot of regret over how I handled the situation but by then its’ too late and there is nothing I can do to change it or go back in time.

    Sometime I wish that there was a way to change it , but then again I usually feel better after I get out what I need to say, just not sure about the others…

  • Cougar

    August 23rd, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    I Understand for some people, they need to get the emotions out. But you need to do it in a way that does not hurt others’ feeling. Try to talk it out using “I” statement instead of blowing it out on others and hurting them. Causing
    Them to build up resentment is not a good thing.

  • redhot

    August 19th, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    My friends call me red fury. nothing wrong with getting angry!

  • dex

    August 19th, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    For me it is always a big help to step away from a situation for a moment before I let myself react. There are tiems when I know that I totally lose my cool if I don’t step back for a second and really process what I am feeling. I don’t think that it is a good or healthy thing to suppress your anger, but it can be good to take a few deep breaths before saying or doing something that you could really regret in the long run.

  • Brin

    August 23rd, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    That’s actually about the best thing you can do. Anger should always be expressed at the appropriate time. 99% of the time it is not when we first feel it. My therapist called this bookmarking. If we step away and hold it in and process it, by the time we cool off and need to vent, we realize that most of it wasn’t even worth being mad over, the stuff that is, can be expressed in the right place without impulsiveness. It’s our impulsiveness that gets us into trouble. It causes us to do and say things that we later regret. The Bible tells us that it It’s not a sin to feel anger, it only becomes a sin if we hurt other people or ourselves when we become angry. Anger is a human emotion, it’s what we do with thst anger that matters.

  • Lucas

    August 20th, 2014 at 3:40 AM

    Journaling can be a great way to get that anger out but in a way that does not hurt someone else but also allows you to say what you are feeling. I have always thought that the best thing to do would be to hold that anger in, and that way there would be less of a chance to hurt another and less of a chance for me to get into trouble! I have learned through this site and other reading though that this is not always, or usually the best thing to do- you just have to find a better outlet for that anger and for me writing is that one thing that will help me keep it all together.

  • Dawn

    August 20th, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    I used to have a really bad temper but marrying my husband helped me change some of that. He is so even tempered that it started to seem ridiculous to get so worked up about small things that didn’t even seem to bother him in the least so I have really tried to emulate him a bit. Don’t tell him I said that lol

  • monet

    August 22nd, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    Treating yourself to something nice and relaxing when you can can be a great way to help dilute some of that anger that you could be feeling unnecessarily.
    Many times we do not actually take the time out to look at our needs and see that they are being met. We are too busy with work, family, and anything else that can take us away from nurturing and caring for ourselves.
    If you need to get this feeling of anger under control it can be great to take control of your life and feed your sould with that which is missing.

  • bj

    August 22nd, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    I had to learn that anger is a signal that I feel when something is wrong. And it’s not the getting angry that’s wrong. Sometimes we have a very good reason to be furious at someone…like when they have manipulated or abused someone we love. I used to numb or implode and that lead to sickness/disease.

  • s constance

    August 22nd, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    Usually I recognize frustration first . So I’ll mention that ‘ getting frustrated’. If some one is angry with me will mention they sound upset. Sometimes that works sometimes I say something kind in a louder tone. Usually they calm down.

  • Steve

    August 22nd, 2014 at 7:17 PM

    During the past several years when I met an individual or have been in a situation that upset me so much that I blew my top or said something I shouldn’t have, I learned to avoid either the person or the situation, i.e. a group therapy session. I know that running away isn’t the answer, but it has worked for me so far. My brain damage left me impulsive that is very difficult control.

  • Lucretia

    August 23rd, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    I wish that more people would try out meditating and seeing what a calming influence that this can have on the soul. There is nothing better than to sit back and become mindful of the events that are going on that are leading to so much anger and consternation within. I think that if you can practice those deep cleansing breaths and take a moment to find a little peace you will see that the anger is not worth the pain that it causes you, and that you will feel much better by releasing it and being more mindful of the things that brought it to you in the first place.

  • Joanna

    February 1st, 2015 at 11:22 AM

    Great suggestions what to do to manage our anger more effectively so it doesn’t control our lives!

    Once things cool down and I am not any more in the “heat of the moment” for me what also helps is to understand what is the purpose of anger.
    We feel angry when we believe we were treated unfairly or our boundaries have been crossed. So I analyze my situation and try to find the triggest of my anger. Then I evaluate if I can change anything in my situation to avoid whatever triggered my anger in a future. If I cant, I try to prepare myself better for next time this situation arises.
    Not an easy task but in a long run, it makes managing anger easier!

  • Wendy

    Wendy

    February 3rd, 2015 at 10:52 AM

    It’s always a great idea to try to analyze any triggers for your anger after you’ve had a chance to cool down. Determining triggers can be helpful in order to try to avoid stressful situations whenever possible and/or to be aware of the need to use more of the coping skills listed, such as taking a timeout or a few deep breaths. We can never totally escape situations that make us angry, but we can definitely learn to deal with them in more effective ways.

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