Have 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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
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