“Speak when you are angry, and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” — Ambrose Bierce
Maybe your anger is a little out of control? Or maybe it’s big-time explosive and desperately needs reigning in? Or is it just that people around you are hinting you need anger management classes? No matter the case, keep reading. You’ve come to the right place!
Why work on controlling anger?
When a person gets mad, they can do things that get them into trouble, like getting offensive, yelling, posturing aggressively, making threats, breaking things, or becoming assaultive. At other times the rage is passive. While fist-fights aren’t a problem, the anger bites away at everyone you care about, leaving scars and ruining friendships.
But why work on controlling anger? On a more personal level, why do you want to change the way you deal with feeling mad? Typical reasons for getting rage under control include:
- Not regretting the stuff you did when you were angry
- Not offending or hurting others
- Not getting hurt when others retaliate
- Avoiding jail or prison
- Gaining the respect of people you care about
- Not getting kicked out of school or a job
- Not losing a relationship that’s important to you
In addition to avoiding negative consequences, learning self-control can brighten your future and jumpstart opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise. The world tends to admire people who handle crazy situations with wisdom and integrity; we look up to those who overcome adversity without impulsivity and aggression. You can be that person.
So what do you do with all the anger?
Anger is a normal emotion, but dealing with it can be a challenge. What can you do to regain control when angry? Or, better said: what would you want to see yourself doing when you’re feeling pissed off, instead of being offensive, yelling, threatening, or getting physical? You’ll find some ideas below.
(1) Emergency Management: Instead of screaming and attacking the other person, consider dismissing yourself and walking off. Say, “I need some time alone.” Even “I need some @*(&!% time alone” is better than losing control.
(2) Opposite. Do the opposite of what you want to do. Do something nice rather than be mean or attack. Imagine SYMPATHY and EMPATHY for the other person rather than blame. Sit down and try to figure out what it’s like to walk in the other person’s shoes. Where are they coming from? What are they fighting for? Take that information and change your response to the situation.
(3) Anger Energy. Use your “anger energy” to do exercises: pace, do push-ups, sit-ups, or run in place. If you can, go jogging or play a sport. If you can’t get physical, consider playing an instrument, writing fiction, painting, or something creative.
(4) Battles. Choose your battles. Next time you feel yourself becoming angry, stop, count to ten, and ask yourself, “Are the consequences worth it? Is this situation really worth my time and energy?” If you’re fighting for your life, it’s worth it. If you’re angry because someone said something offensive, choose to be above the commotion.
(5) Talk. When you feel yourself getting angry — but before it gets out of control –consider talking to a someone you trust. Don’t let the angst grow until you explode. Have a list of names and numbers at the ready.
If your anger goes from 0 to 100 in five seconds and it’s a losing battle, reach out for professional help. Consider joining an anger management group or doing individual therapy to help you better deal with anger-provoking situations. If your anger leads to violence, consider also seeing a psychiatrist for medications to target your rage.
In the end, remember: Practice! Reprogramming how you react to anger-provoking situations can take time. Don’t give up.