Skip to Navigation

Some people believe they have a chronic problem with anger, and we all lose it sometimes. Not all anger is bad though, so before you beat yourself up it’s worth understanding what triggers your anger and what you intend it to achieve.

But beware; it’s no good reviewing your anger while it is still fresh and raw. Anger has a way of justifying itself, so you can only appraise it properly when you have properly cooled down and you can view it from a safe (detached) distance.

If it IS justified, remember Aristotle’s caution:

“Anybody can become angry– that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way– that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”

Here are some suggestions for developing awareness and confidence in handling anger.

Relaxation

Simple relaxation tools, such as deep breathing, mindfulness exercises and relaxing imagery, can help calm down angry feelings in the present. They also help train the mind and improve emotional control more generally.

Reframing

Simply put, this means changing the way we think. When we are angry, our thinking can become polarised and overly dramatic. The skill of reframing allows us to create alternative interpretations. This helps for three reasons; first, it forces us to interrupt our destructive and limiting thought patterns; second, it replaces anger sustaining thoughts with alternative, less limiting ones; third, it actually gives us something to do and when we choose to act in a certain way (rather than being at the mercy of our anger) we start to calm down.

A magic word

Some people find that a word or idea can act as a talisman and help to make the anger-provoking incident less important. It also helps to remind yourself that anger, though seductive, does not usually produce good results or make you feel better.

Develop an Early Warning System

The real skill in anger management is to recognise early on when we start to get irritated or aroused so that we can take evasive action. It is much easier to ʻnip it in the budʼ than to deal with full blown anger (whether expressed or not).

Externalise your anger

Treat the anger as an external intruder. Ask yourself how it manages to trip you up, persuade you to do its bidding or interfere with your life. After all, if someone you called a ʻfriendʼ kept doing you harm and upsetting you, how long would you go on allowing them into your life?

Call a halt

If you notice yourself getting angry or entering a situation which might put you under pressure, be ready with a Plan B. For example, call off the discussion, change the venue or take a walk (and time to plan your next move) before continuing.

Problem Solve

Sometimes, our anger and frustration are caused by very real and inescapable problems in our lives. It is useful to be able to think in a solution-focused way so that we can move past problems or resolve the anger-provoking situation. It is also an essential cognitive skill to be able to identify things that canʼt be changed and practice the art of acceptance. No point in railing against things we have no control or influence over.

Not all anger is misplaced, and often it’s a healthy, natural response to these difficulties. There is also a cultural belief that every problem has a solution, and it adds to our frustration to find out that this isn’t always the case. The best attitude to bring to such a situation, then, is not to focus on finding the solution, but rather on how you handle and face the problem.

Improve how you communicate

We tend to jump to conclusions when we are angry and some of those conclusions can be very inaccurate. The first thing to do if anger starts to flare is slow down and think through our responses. This is easier said than done. A good approach is to start by really listening to what the other person is saying. The aim is to strengthen our own listening skills rather than weaken the otherʼs argument with words. The rule is ʻFirst, seek to understandʼ. Focusing in this way helps to take the heat out of the situation.

Ease up on yourself

Anger often has underlying personal factors that are stress-provoking. Having high or unreasonable expectations for yourself, for example, or a tendency towards perfectionism. Such traits can be useful in some situations, for sure. Having high standards for oneself can be useful in getting the results you want. But there is wisdom in knowing when things are ‘good enough’ for a particular situation or circumstance (for example when external events prevent you from giving it your all).

Some other tips for easing up on yourself

Timing

Choosing the ʻright momentʼ (for ourselves as well as others) can often make a huge difference.

Miller’s Law

Assume that, for the other person, their statements are true and start from there.
Think in advance: When approaching an anger-provoking situation to prepare yourself, for example by reframing your thoughts on the subject.

Find alternatives

Can you change the context, duration or some other aspect of the encounter to reduce threat and tension?

Think collaboratively

See the other person as a potential ally in a problem-solving exercise rather than an adversary.

 

What do you think? Share your thoughts...

Latest from the blog

How to Learn Acceptance

If you find you you are unhappy with a situation a change in viewpoint can make it more bearable, or even acceptable, so here’s how to change a strongly held point of view (by the way, I’m talking about our own views here, this is not about persuading others).

Continue reading

The Last Day of Something, Is the First of Something New

Today may be a significant day. Even if it isn’t, for you, it could be made into one.

You don’t have to be a philosopher to think about what’s important to you, and there are more opportunities to do that than you might think.

Continue reading

Have a Chewbacca Moment, It’s Friday!

It’s Friday, a day for Love. (The name Friday comes from the Old English Frīġedæġ, meaning the “day of Frige”, a result of an old convention associating the Old English goddess Frigg with the Roman goddess Venus – Wikipedia). It may be a tenuous link, but I needed to find a way of sharing Candace […]

Continue reading
FREE DOWNLOAD - Get it now.

How to be more Resilient

Get my super-helpful guide '9 Steps to Resilience' absolutely FREE, when you subscribe to my newsletter.

Understand the steps to resilience and you can develop the ability to cope with problems and setbacks with less stress and more confidence.
close-link
%d bloggers like this: