If you have ever had an anger problem, then you know what happens when it explodes.
You lash out with your words and actions at others. In essence, people see the worst side of who you are.
As a consequence, relationships become frayed or even permanently damaged.
However, there are ways that you can better cope with anger so that you don’t lose control.
Consider three potent strategies:
1. Know your body
The first step to better cope with anger is to recognise the messages your body is telling you. Well before your anger reaches critical mass, your body is sending you signals.
These can include:
- Increased breathing rate
- Clenching your fists
- Talking more rapidly
- Clenching or grinding your teeth
- Feeling the hairs on the back of your neck tingle
- Squinting your eyes
These signs should be a warning that you need to slow down. Your body is responding to stress and is acting accordingly. It’s trying to prepare you for a confrontation.
Yet, if you are aware that this is happening, there is still time to make a different choice. Even if that decision is getting up and leaving the room—that is better than the alternative.
2. Recognise black and white thinking
Another thing that you can do to avoid anger is learning to recognise black and white thinking (also known as all-or-nothing thinking).
For instance, let’s say someone bumps you when walking down the sidewalk. Many people would see this as an accident and brush it off. However, for you, it may become a more significant issue. You may feel insulted and indignant that someone would violate your personal space.
So, you “get in their face,” and the other person perhaps reacts in kind. Surely, you can see how this escalates the problem further.
The point is that black and white thinking often occurs when we feel wronged. Yet, what if you took a step back and for a moment reflected on the incident? How would the situation look then?
Perhaps that person bumped you accidentally. Maybe they are in a rush to get somewhere, or they were distracted and didn’t see you. Stepping back requires having empathy and also seeing others not as problems, but as people.
3. Be Aware of Your Triggers
We all have things that make us angry, regardless of who we are. For some, it is witnessing inequality and injustice. With others, it is when situations get too stressful and out of their control.
Regardless of the issue, anger will not solve the problem. It will only make things worse.
You can recognise your anger by being aware of what triggers it. When you know your triggers, you will be able to avoid certain situations that make you angry. And for those instances that you can’t avoid, you can learn and practice coping skills to get you through it.
Why mindfulness matters with anger issues
All three of the above suggestions require using mindfulness as a coping skill. When you are mindful, you are more aware of your own feelings and emotions, yet also what is happening around you. Plus, mindfulness is useful for coping with anger when it does occur.
For example, when you notice that you are starting to breathe more quickly, take some slow breaths. Or, if you feel yourself getting tense, practice a relaxation exercise. Remember, mindfulness is not just for a meditation session. It is excellent for everyday interactions, as well.
When you get angry, it can feel as if you are losing control. Yet, what does that actually accomplish? The result of anger often is strained relationships and negative feelings. It never actually makes you feel better.
However, by knowing your body, recognising your thinking, and being aware of triggers, you can make sure you stay in control and keep yourself from exploding.
Consider anger management therapy
If, after trying these tips, you still have difficulty managing your anger, you might benefit from anger management therapy. We would work with you, first to develop anger management strategies that suit you. Then, once you can control your anger more effectively, looking at what’s behind your anger. Once they have resolved whatever issues were fuelling their passion, many people find they no longer have anger issues at all.
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