“No-one but you chooses what you do, don’t let anyone or anything take away your peace”
Anger is an issue that most of us will struggle with at one time or another. Some of us are quick to anger, quick to calm. Others are slow burn, taking a long time to get angry, and a longer time to cool off afterwards. Letting your anger control you can have a myriad of negative consequences. It can ruin friendships and affect your work. It can impact your health and your outlook on life. Here are ten tips to control your anger, and to keep your cool in even the toughest situations
It’s not always feasible to walk away, so at the very least, remove yourself from the situation in whatever way you can. As soon as you start to feel that tightness that says anger is bubbling up to the surface, excuse yourself if you’re able. Find a private place, a bathroom or a stairwell are both suitable places if you’re not home-and take some time to let your anger release. If you can’t physically walk away, pull yourself out of the conversation and spend a few moments in silence. With practice, you’ll be able to calm your anger as soon as you feel it looming. Anger is like a lot of chaotic things; if you get a hold of it before it starts to spiral out of control, it’s easily managed.
When we’re angry, our first instinct is to hold our breath, or to breathe in shallow, soft pants. We’re subconsciously preparing ourselves for a fight, an instinct that is hard to resist. Each angry, shallow breath you take builds the anger which is feeding the fire and making it grow. Stop right there, and take slow, deep, deliberate breaths. Focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, your breath getting slower and deeper with each subsequent draw. When you feel your breathing starting to return to normal, release the tension and approach the situation with a cool head.
3. Talk it out
Talk to a friend, talk to family or even your pet. Talking out an issue helps bring it into perspective, which can make it easier to digest. Anger often stems from fear, stress, and the unexpected. When we’re not prepared for something, it can be hard to approach it calmly. So talk about it or discuss it with someone who you know can relate, and make a plan to overcome the challenge. Once you feel like you can conquer whatever has made you angry, you’ll feel better able to control yourself and the problem.
4. Write it out
There are going to be things that can’t be walked off or talked out in our lives. For those of us who are slow to anger and slow to release, this is especially true. Writing out your feelings in a journal can really help you reduce your anger and cool down. When the source of my anger is someone else’s actions, I usually write them a letter. It’s usually a pretty honest and straight forward letter, not always nice. When I’m through laying out everything that I’m upset about, I tear it up and throw it away. Even though the person never reads it, I get to say what’s on my mind and release my anger in a healthy, non-confrontational way.
5. Work it out
When you’re angry or frustrated it’s a good time to hit the gym or go for a run etc. Channel that energy into something positive. Not only will you give your body a boost of endorphins which will help to improve your mood, but your body will thank you for taking care of it and put you in a good mood. So take a hike, go for a run, kill it at a Zumba class. Anything you can do to work out the pent up energy that anger brings will do your body and your mind good. It’s a win-win!
6. Set healthy boundaries
If you find the same people or the same situation angering you time and time again, it’s time to evaluate what’s going on. I’m big on getting your own house in order before you try to direct others, but there are times when it’s not about you. If people repeatedly push you, use you, and take advantage of you, it’s time to set some boundaries. You can’t control people and that’s a fact. But you can control what level of their ridiculous behavior you will accept.
So the next time someone in your life drops their responsibility in your lap, explain that you have a prior commitment and they’re going to have to take care of it themselves. Or, if the person that’s causing you distress starts in on the office gossip, firmly tell them that you’re not interested in the ins and outs of everyone’s life and you have work to do.
Whatever it takes to get your point across, you can be firm and still be polite. If the situation doesn’t resolve itself, it’s probably a good time to rethink their involvement in your life. If you can cut them loose, do so without regret. You’ll be surprised how good it feels to let negative people walk out of your life.
7. Respect yourself
This is a particularly hard one for me. I prefer to err on this side of humble, but I end up letting people walk all over me. At the very least, we tend to undervalue ourselves. It’s important to take stock of yourself and stand up for what you’ve earned. No need to be arrogant, but there’s nothing wrong with saying that you won’t do or accept something because you’re worth more than that or because you simply don’t want to.
It’s absolutely true that when you value yourself and show yourself the utmost respect, people will follow your example. Walk through this life as if you have the right to be respected and you have value, and that attitude will rub off on the people around you. There will always be that one person that still acts like a jerk. Show yourself the respect you deserve and walk away.
8. Choose kindness
I find that, when I’m angriest at life, at the world, at a situation that’s out of my control, I feel better when I choose kindness. I battle the source of my anger by letting the last minute merger pull his car in front of me. I let the person behind me in the grocery store with a few items precariously balanced in her arms ahead of me and my overflowing basket. I leave a bigger tip for the wait staff at my favorite restaurant. I don’t waste the kindness on the source of my anger, unless I think they need my kindness more than I need to walk away. But I make a point to spread kindness wherever I can, which immediately puts me in a good mood. You get back what you put out into this world, and I always make it a point not to let a few moments of anger destroy my entire day. Nothing is worth wasting time over.
9. Consider the source
There are times when it’s important to take stock of the source of your anger. Especially when it comes to people, I try to figure out why they’re doing what they did. It goes along with choosing kindness. By evaluating the likely reason for their actions, I can remember a time when I said or did something that caused people distress. People are by nature good. When someone acts hateful or mean there’s often an underlying reason. You don’t have to turn yourself into a traveling therapist, but if you can identify the reason they’re acting the way they are, perhaps you can decide that their behavior isn’t worth the effort it takes to get angry.
10. Embrace your power
There are going to be times when anger can be drawn on to achieve positive results. I find I’m most motivated to do physical and exhausting activities when I’m angry. I draw my motivation from the boost of energy anger often gives us, completing tasks in record time. Channel anger into focus and watch how productive you can be. Once you can turn that anger around and make it work for you, you’ll find that anger doesn’t control you anymore.
Anger is a fact of life we all deal with. No one is perfect and no one is calm and happy all of the time. But if you take control of anger before anger controls you, you will lead a happier, more balanced life.