”It is wise to direct your anger towards problems – not people; to focus your energies on answers – not excuses”
William Arthur Ward
I think I’m safe to say that each and everyone of us has experienced anger in our lives.
In fact, it seems quite daft even typing that out. But, on occasion, I come across someone who likes to preach how anger is a sin, almost making out we should be punished – and punish ourselves – for it happening.
Reality check: you’re human. It happens. Accept it.
Another thing about being human is that we’re all different; meaning, what may trigger one persons anger, would perhaps not another’s. Our tolerance is unique and individual – there’s no right or wrong, and no one-size-fits-all.
In my opinion (and experience), the way we react to events that trigger anger within us, is largely down to learnt behaviour from our close circle growing up. If I had a pound for every time I heard the quote ”I get my anger from my father”, I’d own several remote desert islands.
Another reality check: no, you don’t get it from your father – or anyone for that matter.
Your anger is a reaction because it’s been conditioned in you. It’s not been passed down from either of your parents’ DNA. It’s these silly I’m’s that need observing, as we tell ourselves we’re obviously this way as our parents are this way, and because of them we’ll always be this way.
And if we’ve always been this way and we’ve told ourselves we’ll always be this way, then surely that must be 100% true and we cannot change, right?
We all have choices. These programmed habits we’ve developed can be re-developed; it’s the desire to want to change that continually lets people down.
There’s also the situations where we may have been a victim of abuse or some other traumatic event, and we project our hurt and pain externally in the form of anger towards others – which is not a fault as such, as most aren’t aware they’re doing it – but it needs investigating.
Above all else, when someone is suffering severe anger issues, what they’re really saying underneath the venom is ”I’m hurting so badly and in so much pain; please love me and show me compassion”.
And the most unfortunate thing with anger? It tends to be taken out on those who love us the most.
With all this in mind, I’d like to share with you my 10 powerful ways to control anger, which I can only hope works for you as it did me.
1. Admit it.
Getting back to the pound reference I made earlier; the same applies to those who are in denial that they struggle with anger. I’d own more remote islands than you could imagine.
Refrain from blaming anyone for your anger. Blaming others is avoiding the truth, so honesty is needed here.
The first step to changing anything is acceptance – and acceptance is admitting something. Take ownership of your anger and make a commitment to yourself and others impacted by it that you’re going to change.
This is the biggest breakthrough by far.
2. Stop yourself in the moment.
An outburst of rage can be over before its too late, so this is why stopping ourselves in the moment is crucial to avoid causing hurt in another, but also ourselves.
We’ve all got the ability to be mindful of the words and tone we’re using. We think anger happens immediately without warning, but that’s something many fall back on as an excuse to cover up for their actions.
Whenever you feel your blood boiling and your stomach knotting – take yourself away from the situation and cool down. Be honest with whoever it is and tell them you need to grab some time alone for a little while.
In the past when I’ve felt my blood boiling I developed a habit of saying ”STOP! STOP! STOP!” in my head, which made a huge difference to the way I reacted.
Remember: words said through anger can have a lasting imprint on another’s psyche, and a degree of regret that can attach itself to you for a lifetime.
3. Choose clear, concise and assertive language instead.
If someone or something has brought you to feel anger, and it’s a situation that needs resolving; discuss it instead of flying off the handle causing potential upset.
We’re all entitled to voice our opinion and concerns, but it’s how we do it that matters. Plus, you’re likely to get taken more seriously if you talk about your concerns without the need to shout. People respect your opinion more.
This also isn’t an excuse to sound off at them in a politer way, either. And refrain from using passive-aggressive language too, as a direct insult is less offending than that. It’s a sneaky, cold, malicious way of hurting someone in a non-direct way making out you’re being sincere.
Let them say their piece, then you say yours. Be clear and concise in your language, and be assertive rather than aggressive if the conversation needs to go down that route.
Some examples of clear, concise questions can be:
- You mentioned x, y, z during our conversation: what exactly did you mean by that?
- I felt the way you handled that had a clear impact on us and it wasn’t ideal. What are your thoughts?
- I don’t appreciate being spoken to like that; I felt embarrassed in front of the company we were in. What reaction were you seeking and why?
- Can you explain why this has happened? I’m confused and I’d appreciate an explanation.
There’s many more, but you get the idea.
Clear, concise, assertive and to the point. If someone really has done something intentional to cause hurt, then the questions above are said in a way of putting the responsibility on them – not you – but used in a calm manner.
4. Exercise it out.
I find exercise a great stress reliever, and I’m not on my own.
Feeling annoyed? Go for a run, hit the weights, or take your feelings out on a punchbag for a while. Looking at anger on a very basic level, it’s really straightforward:
Fear → energy → anger (feeling) → emotion → energy-in-motion.
The energy needs to get moving and to be released, so exercise is great way of doing just that.
I don’t know anyone who’s ever finished exercising and said ”Man, I feel terrible after that!”.
Get those endorphins racing!
The body, mind and soul loves laughter. Just look at how it makes you feel.
Love and laughter operate on a higher vibrational frequency than fear and anger. Again; see the difference in how you feel with both. Be around those who you can have fun with – especially those who make you laugh.
Stick on that comedy special or movie you’ve seen a thousand times already that you know you love. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen it if it’s a tried and tested method of making you laugh.
The more you’re laughing, the further away you are from anger.
6. Investigate your anger.
Although it’s good to handle anger as and when it happens, it’s never going to go anywhere unless we investigate the reason behind why we get triggered.
So what is it that gets your blood boiling? What tends to be the key thing that sets you off?
It’s not just a case of ‘‘He/she said this to me and I felt angry”. Or, ”he/she acted this way which made me angry”
Sure, someone or something set you off, but getting to the heart of the matter is key. We need to understand why we reacted this way and work on using compassion and empathy towards ourselves to let it go.
I find writing it down helps. Use a funnel technique to find out the core reason where this reaction came from. Contrary to popular belief, the situation or person who sparked your anger isn’t the reason for your anger.
Some example questions to investigate with might be:
- What specifically triggered my anger? Was it words, tone, actions?
- Why do I think I reacted the way I did?
- What were my expectations in all of this?
- Did someone/something not meet my expectations?
- Do I have a right to have expectations?
- Have I been hurt similarly in the past?
And on it goes.
A picture starts to develop and a light bulb moment occurs when you’re on the right track.
7. Drop all resentment and grudges.
Wayne Dyer had it right when he said ”There are no justified resentments”.
Any resentment and grudges you hold are only harming you, and not whoever it is you hold them against. You’re the one containing the venom inside, allowing it to circulate around your bloodstream.
You’re also allowing whoever or whatever it is, to live rent-free in your mind. Think of that way.
Resentment and grudges immobilise you, taking away a part of who you really are. Resentment manifests as anger, which can turn ugly pretty quickly. Honestly, it’s a lose-lose situation and the only thing clinging on to any resentment or grudge is your ego-mind.
A good way of dropping resentment and grudges is questioning yourself around them:
- Who is the anger I feel inside for this/that/them impacting?
- Is this feeling benefiting me in any way?
- Is the ‘justification’ I’m allowing myself to feel angry about, going to resolve the issue?
- Is this way of living the route to feeling happy and fulfilled?
- Am I performing at my best in all areas of my life right now with how I feel?
Let go and move on – seriously.
True forgiveness is one of – if not the – most liberating feelings ever.
8. Reach out.
When we’re suffering, us humans like to bottle it up and suppress it inside. We might touch on things with close family and friends on occasion, but by and large we don’t get into the real nitty-gritty of what’s going on within.
Talk to someone openly and honestly about your anger. Lay it all out on the table and get some feedback from them. Genuine people like to lend an ear when it matters most, but be mindful to not use them as a verbal sounding off board to rant at (although it is good to on occasion).
Come from the heart; ask them their opinion on whatever it is that is causing your anger to flare up. Listen to their words.
It’s knowing you’re not alone, as I find whenever I open up to someone, they have experienced very similar reactions before themselves, which removes any labels I put on myself for feeling a certain way.
Being confident in sharing your vulnerable side shows a distinct level of self-love.
9. Watch out for a possible anger transfer.
As I mentioned in point number 4; emotion is energy-in-motion, and anger is an emotion. What can happen sometimes is that our anger (energy) can transfer into various outlets, such as: depression, sadness, irritability, irrationality, guilt, shame, etc.
The emotion itself (fear) hasn’t gone anywhere; it’s been transferred and is now being projected as another form of fear, as I outlined above.
It requires good self-awareness to see this happening. You need to be emotionally in touch with yourself to understand the process – which can take time – yet we are all capable of reaching this level of awareness with a bit of effort.
On the flip side, if anger is dealt with in the correct manner it can be released allowing more of your natural state (love, joy, happiness) to come through, which is also obviously energy – and that’s the goal.
How do you reach this point? By continually observing and paying attention to what you’re feeling inside and not pressing the ”IGNORE” button.
10. Change can and will happen.
As I said at the beginning of this article: you’re not set out to be anyone or anything. Who you are now doesn’t have to be who you are in 6 months.
You have the ability to change, and it’s just a thought away.
Have a knowing that you can change. Better still – you WILL change. If you always think what you have always thought, then you’ll always be who you always were.
It’s like anything; put in the work, you’ll see the results. The exact same applies with psychology.
Become the change.
Do you think these tips will help? What else would you add to the list? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
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