Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. – Buddha
Define Your Anger
Whether you’re an irritable person by nature, or usually maintain a cool, you’ve experienced anger at some point in your life. It’s very hard to withdraw yourself from the moment and not allow the anger to take over control.
Take a minute to evaluate what exactly it is that you are feeling. Do you feel betrayed, are you furious and feel like punching someone?
Ask your self uncomfortable questions about your anger. In her book “The Dance of Anger”, Harriet Lerner, a scholarly writer, psychologist and a renowned relationship expert asks readers to pose the following incisive questions to identify the true source of anger:
- What about the situation makes me angry?
- What is the real issue here?
- What do I think and feel?
- What do I want to accomplish in this situation?
- Who is responsible for what?
- Specifically,what do I want to change?
- What are the things I will and will not do?
Understand that whatever you are feeling is normal. Accept that it is completely human to get angry or upset, I’d be worried if you never felt that way.
Rate your anger on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most severe. Anywhere above 8, and you’ve got yourself in a pickle. This is a serious concern, which you must address. But if I were to give you a piece of advice it would be this: pick your battles. Feeling emotions of anger is okay, but allowing it to control your actions in a negative way is not.
Discover The Root
Do some detective work and figure out what the cause of your anger is. A lot of times, the trigger may not even be the actual issue. There is often a hidden, more prominent reason for your anger. Don’t ignore it. In most cases, people keep their feelings bottled up inside of them and allow their anger to build up over months or even years, and then explode in at a seemingly “random” situation because they can no longer maintain their composure. That is why it is so important to determine the underlying cause, and not work on the superficial root.
Once you spend a little time thinking about what the cause of these feelings is, you have two options: deal with the root of the anger or let the anger go. Choose wisely, because you will have to accept responsibility for your actions and its consequences. My advice is to first deal with the problem and then let it go.
Eliminate Anger From Your Life
So you’ve decided to confront the issue and reach some middle ground with the source of the anger. Kudos to you! Avoidance is a sign of weakness, not maturity.
Talk to the person at the root of the anger. If it is something they did or do on an ongoing basis that you don’t have any part in or control over, then you need to let them know how much it bothers you and affects your mood and life. They may not even know that it bothers you and discussing it with them may lead to a surprisingly easy and positive outcome.
If it is something not out of the ordinary about the other person, or something that angers you in every aspect of your life, regardless of the environment and people, perhaps you should think about the possibility that it is your ideas and beliefs about certain things that are causing you all the anger, rather than an external source. In this case, accept the cause and start working on yourself so you can live an anger-free life.
Now that you’ve dealt with the cause of the anger, its time to explore ways in which to release your remaining anger in an appropriate manner. The first step is, give yourself permission to let the anger go. Chances are you’ve held onto these feelings for quite some time and you’ve become accustomed to having it around. It’s almost become a habit. You may feel lonely without it’s presence in your head and daily life. So allow yourself to be strong and let it go.
Then, give yourself a break! You’ve just accomplished a big task, and freed yourself of a lot of draining emotional baggage. So celebrate!
How To Cope
Okay, so this is great advice for long-term anger management. But what can you do in the meantime while you haven’t had the time to deal or let go, but need to control your anger habits from day to day? Use any or all of these techniques that work for you:
Breathe. Count up until you feel your anger dissipating with each breath. If you can, keep a track of the number you stop at each time and try to monitor the progress. Hopefully, it will take less and less time, each time for your anger to dissipate.
Visualize. Anything that helps you NOT feel aggressive or violent is good. If visualizing punching the person who angers you helps you release the anger against them, then do it. If visualizing a scenic waterfall, helps calm your anger, then do that. I’m not going to tell you what you should visualize, but rather urge you to explore what helps calm your mind the most. You can do this by trying to visualize different scenes each time. You should find, just like with the breathing and counting exercise, that some scenes will help you relax faster, so use those.
Confront. Stand up for yourself if you think that is important. I still emphasize the fact that if you’re not sure how you should react, just don’t and save it until you have some time to analyze the cause. But at the same time, don’t allow someone to walk all over you. Sometimes it is just important to put your foot down, stand up for yourself and let the other person know that you are not going to accept poor treatment. The only advice I can give is make sure you are not being illogical and emotional in your confrontation, otherwise this strategy will work against you and make you look like an emotional fool in the other person’s eyes.
Channel. Invest your time and energy in hobbies, projects and social relationships. Write, paint, dance, run, create, exercise. Take up a reading list, join a martial arts class, go out with friends and family. Learn to relieve your anger in a controlled environment. This can be anything of your choosing, something that truly makes you happy and calm.
NO substances. Don’t use alcohol or drugs to cope. This only delays dealing with the issue and then you end up with even bigger issues than you started with. Use healthy means of coping with your anger that are listed above or unlisted yet positively healthy.