Toolkit for Staying Calm in the Face of Anger
In 99FM’s MYD Heart article “The nature of anger”, with the help of the team at Let’s Talk Psychologists, we heard that “Many things can lead a person to struggle to manage their anger and this can include things like disruptive families that were not skilled at emotional communication or sociocultural norms that see anger being denied expression in our society because it is regarded as negative emotion and as a result we don’t learn how to channel our anger correctly.”
For more on where anger comes from, read The Nature of Anger. Let’s Talk Psychologists have prepared the following summary for us. Find at least one tool below that will work for you and with practise, you’ll be in process to channelling your anger correctly.
Toolkit for Staying Calm in the Face of Anger by Let’s Talk Psychologists
Remember, you can’t eliminate anger and it wouldn’t be a good idea if you could. In spite of all your efforts, things will happen that will cause you anger; and sometimes it will be justifiable anger. Life will be filled with frustration, pain, loss, and the unpredictable actions of others. You can’t change that; but you can change the way you let such events affect you. Controlling your angry responses can keep them from making you even more unhappy in the long run.
Please note : If you feel that your anger is really out of control, if it is having an impact on your relationships and on important parts of your life, you might consider counselling. A psychologist or other licensed mental health professional can work with you in developing a range of techniques for changing your thinking and your behaviour.
Angry People :
- Angry people tend to demand things: fairness, appreciation, agreement, willingness to do things their way. When their demands aren’t met, their disappointment becomes anger.
- Angry people need to become aware of their demanding nature and translate their expectations into desires.
- When you’re unable to get what you want, you will experience the normal reactions—frustration, disappointment, hurt—but not anger.
- Some angry people use anger as a way to avoid feeling hurt, but that doesn’t mean the hurt goes away.
Tips for Managing Your Anger Before it Manages You
Simple relaxation tools, such as deep breathing and relaxing imagery, can help calm down angry feelings.
Some simple steps you can try:
- Breathe deeply, from your diaphragm; breathing from your chest won’t relax you. Picture your breath coming up from your “gut.”
- Slowly repeat a calm word or phrase such as “relax,” “take it easy.” Repeat it to yourself while breathing deeply.
- Use imagery; visualize a relaxing experience, from either your memory or your imagination.
- Relaxing slow yoga-like exercises can relax your muscles and make you feel much calmer.
Practice these techniques daily. Learn to use them automatically when you’re in a tense situation.
- Changing the way you think. Try replacing irrational thoughts with more rational ones.
- Be careful of words like “never” or “always” when talking about yourself or someone else.
- Remind yourself that getting angry is not going to fix anything that it won’t make you feel better.
- Logic defeats anger, because anger, even when it’s justified, can quickly become irrational.
- Remind yourself that the world is “not out to get you,” you’re just experiencing some of the rough spots of daily life.
Do this each time you feel anger getting the best of you, and it’ll help you get a more balanced perspective.
Sometimes, our anger and frustration are caused by very real and inescapable problems in our lives. Not all anger is misplaced, and often it’s a healthy, natural response to these difficulties.
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.
- Angry people tend to jump to—and act on—conclusions, and some of those conclusions can be very inaccurate.
- Don’t say the first thing that comes into your head, but slow down and think carefully about what you want to say.
- Listen carefully to what the other person is saying and take your time before answering.
- Listen, too, to what is underlying the anger. For instance, you like a certain amount of freedom and personal space, and your “significant other” wants more connection and closeness. If he or she starts complaining about your activities, don’t retaliate by painting your partner as a jailer, a warden, or an albatross around your neck.
It’s natural to get defensive when you’re criticized, but don’t fight back. Instead, listen to what’s underlying the words: the message that this person might feel neglected and unloved. It may take a lot of patient questioning on your part, and it may require some breathing space, but don’t let your anger—or a partner’s—let a discussion spin out of control. Keeping your cool can keep the situation from becoming a disastrous one.
Changing Your Environment
Sometimes it’s our immediate surroundings that give us cause for irritation and fury. Problems and responsibilities can weigh on you and make you feel angry at the “trap” you seem to have fallen into and all the people and things that form that trap.
Give yourself a break. Make sure you have some “personal time”.
Some Other Tips for Easing Up on Yourself
Timing: If you and your spouse tend to fight when you discuss things at night—perhaps you’re tired, or distracted, or maybe it’s just habit—try changing the times when you talk about important matters so these talks don’t turn into arguments.
Avoidance: If your child’s chaotic room makes you furious every time you walk by it, shut the door. Don’t make yourself look at what infuriates you.
Finding alternatives: If your daily commute through traffic leaves you in a state of rage and frustration, give yourself a project—learn or map out a different route, one that’s less congested or more scenic.
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