“A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.” – Proverbs 15:18
It happens to all of us – We all get angry from time to time. Sometimes it sneaks up on us, other times it just builds up until we think we are about to explode. The first thing to remember is that YOU are in control of your emotions. Sometimes getting a hold of your feelings can be like riding a bucking bronco where at first it seems to take us on a wild ride that we have no control over. When that happens, we have to take a firm grip on the reins and keep exerting gentle pressure to tame that bronco and get it under control.
The problem with letting our emotions guide our actions is that many times we will say or do things out of anger that we will regret later. It may feel great at the moment to go off on that one person that has gotten on our last nerve and tell them what we really think, but more often than not our careless words will come back and bite us in the butt.
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1. Count to Ten When You’re Angry
We have all heard this one before. I remember when I was a kid when I saw my Mom close her eyes and count to ten quietly, I KNEW that was a very good time to be quiet and not push her anymore. Sometimes she would count to ten, open her eyes, look at me and then close them again and count backward. That’s when I knew I was REALLY in trouble! (and when she used my middle name when addressing me.)
I did not realize it at the time, but that counting to ten was actually a very good anger management technique. She was distracting her mind from what she was angry about and focusing on something simple until she could think clearly enough to speak more rationally to me. When she did speak to me after that it was never yelling, it was always in a quiet voice, and you can BET that I knew she meant business. Handling it that way caused me to listen to her more than I would have if she had yelled.
2. Deep Breaths When You’re Angry
This one does not take much time either, and for me, it is one of the most helpful when I do not have that much time to regroup. I close my eyes and imagine exhaling all the frustrations and anger, usually in the form of a dark cloud. When I inhale I imagine inhaling peace, happiness, contentment, and everything that makes me feel at peace. It usually takes a few cycles of this for me to calm down, but I can usually regroup enough to deal with the immediate problem in a more calm manner.
3. Take a Time Out When You’re Angry
Time outs are not just for kids; Adults need them too! There has been more than once that I sent my son to time out because I was so angry over what he had done that I could not think clearly enough to discipline him without it coming from anger. The dialogue usually goes something like this, “You did such and such. That is not proper behavior. I am very mad right now. Go sit in time out and think about what you did and I will come talk to you about it in a few minutes. “
In truth, I think that we both benefit from that time out. It gives me time to count to ten and take a few deep breaths and it gives him time to think about what he did and why I am not happy with it. I will sometimes go outside or to a different room to calm down to a point that I can talk to him rationally and explain WHY we do not engage in such behavior.
4.Go for a Walk or Work out When You’re Angry
Weather permitting, I prefer to work out or walk outdoors if the sun is still up. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise is a very effective way to deal with the stress of any sort and when a person is angry is no exception. There is something about getting your heart pumping and moving your body that lets stress or anger just melt away. Exercising also releases endorphins, which are your body’s natural “feel good” neurotransmitters. In addition, exercise is a natural way to improve your mood and you will also burn a few calories along the way!
5. Vent, Forgive, Forget so You Don’t Stay Angry
I do this one often. Sometimes, something will make me angry and I just keep thinking about it and thinking about it and I can’t get it off my mind, no matter how hard I try; it just keeps coming back. Dwelling on something that makes us angry is quite self-destructive. It hurts us much more than the person or circumstance that we are angry at and rarely does it change anything.
When I find myself starting to do this, I find a trusted friend, or more often than not, husband and tell them the whole situation, everything that happened exactly why I am mad, what I really think of the whole blasted situation! When they sit back and listen, when they reflect my feelings, “Oh gee, that would have made me angry too!” or “I can see why that made you mad!” After I am all talked out, I feel much better.
Sometimes I cannot get past that mental block until I vent about it and tell someone about it. However, this one comes with several “price tags.” When we vent, we need to make sure it is someone that will keep what we say confidential. Don’t tell Chatty Cathy that will have it spread all over town 5 minutes after we leave. The person we vent to also needs to be a good listener and reflect our feelings for maximum effectiveness. After we have laid it all out, then it is time to move on. We must be able to forgive the situation and even if we can’t forget it entirely, don’t bring it up again to be cast into the offender’s face the next time we get mad.
Anger is a natural human emotion. We all feel it from time to time, and every single one of us struggles it. You are in control of your emotions. Thankfully, there are techniques we can use to help us deal with those feelings in a productive manner. Immediately, we can count to ten and take deep breaths. My 6 year old son reminded me of this the other day when I was angry with him. Sometimes we ALL need reminders. These 2 techniques really help when we are in the moment. When I am very angry and cannot contain myself, I find that taking a time out is very helpful. It helps me to cool down and to refocus my thoughts.
Going for a walk or a workout is a great way to take a time out. I find that when the blood is pumping and my body feels alive, my brain starts to think more clearly. The endorphins produced from exercise also help to put me in a better mood. After my walk, if I am still struggling, then my last tip is vent, forgive and forget. Often times my sweet husband is the one that patiently listens to me. Be very careful who you vent to. You do not want words said in anger to be repeated all over the place.
Make sure that you are venting to someone that you trust. After you have vented, forgive and move on. Don’t dwell on it and make yourself angry all over again! You have dealt with your emotions in a positive manner, let sleeping dogs lie. Go on with your life. You will be happier and healthier for it.
Edited 3/8/18 for better readability and search engine optimization, and affiliate links added.