Anger is a powerful, all-encompassing emotion. Well harnessed, it can drive us to achieve great things. We can use it to fight injustice, increase confidence, and create focus. Anger is also one of the most destructive emotions. It ruins relationships, intimidates co-workers, and creates bad feelings. So it’s surprising that it’s often an overlooked issue. At some point,many angry people realise they have to change their tactics. They begin to see how negative anger really is. Weighed against its supposed usefulness, getting mad is unrealistic, impractical, and unhealthy. It’s unrealistic because your anger won’t cause others to change, no matter how strongly you feel they must. It’s impractical because solutions found in anger are very rarely long lasting or practical. It’s unhealthy because the upset you feel after is a state of stress that’s harmful to every cell in your body.
Are You Angry?
Where do you stand on your own anger? Have you turned the corner and seen it for the negative emotion it really is? Anger is rooted in human nature, no doubt. It runs the gamut from a righteous sense of injustice to petty resentment, fantasies of revenge, bullying, and intimidation—all very common human experiences—before escalating to physical violence, crime, and war. Aggression is something we must all confront either as a victim or an assailant.
Follow a process.
Create a process for managing situations that often trigger anger. When someone does something that upsets you, take a deep breath and trust in the process. One process I use to express my feelings calmly is to describe the behavior and explain my emotional response. So, I’d say something like, “When you yell at me, I feel hurt and upset,” or, “When you behave this way, I feel really angry.” It helps identify the problem and my emotions. It also helps me feel in control and prevents me from resorting to useless, blaming behavior.
Tap it out.
Try a little tapping, or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). EFT is a healing tool that helps reduce deep emotional responses so we can manage our lives more calmly. The whole EFT process includes a tapping routine and a mantra, but you might find a simplified version just as effective. When you feel an intense emotion, just use your first two fingers and tap your collarbone until you feel calmer. If you start tapping quickly and then gradually slow your rhythm, you’ll find yourself calming down.
Centering is a super-simple technique that even a child can use. All you do is focus your mind on your belly button, or rather, just a smidge below your belly button. As you focus, tense those muscles and draw your belly button in toward your spine. If you’ve done any Pilates or yoga, you’ll be familiar with these deep abdominal muscles. It puts you in a state of calm control, so you’re less likely to react and lash out.
Practice daily calm.
We can experience anger and frustration almost daily, and the more we experience it, the more it becomes our way of operating. When you commit to practicing daily calm, you counteract the anger. You practice something much more beneficial to your health and well-being. This doesn’t have to be hard. Just spend a moment or two doing nothing, whenever you can. Engaging in meditation is one of the best long-term anger management techniques for adults. Moreover, it not only enables you to have better control of your emotions (especially the negative ones), but can also bring about a deep sense of inner peace and calm. There are several meditation techniques that can be applicable to anger management, but the simplest would be the most straightforward: tell yourself the following meditation mantra: “I control my anger. I control my mind. I am calm, peaceful, and contented. Nothing pierces the sphere of peace that surrounds me.” Regularly practice this little meditation technique a few minutes each day and you’ll eventually notice a significant difference in how well you can catch yourself before you lose your temper.
The next time you find your anger rising, divert your energy into curiosity. Get really curious about the other person’s perspective. Keep asking questions until you fully understand the other person’s opinion. Once you do, you’ll be in a better position to discover a solution that suits everyone.
Look beneath the anger
Anger is often a secondary emotion that masks the true feelings beneath it. The next time you feel angry, look inside and see if your anger is masking another deeper emotion. Knowing why you’re angry in the first place can work only when you’re not angry—when you’re in the middle of that moment, your mind still white hot and seething, it would be impossible to know. But for the sake of your long-term control of anger, it is of utmost importance to self-analyze the underlying reasons for your anger. Socrates once said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” This applies well to anger management. Think of the last time you got angry, and try to remember all the elements involved in that situation: what made you angry, what triggered it, how did other people react, and how did you also react to those people’s reactions. Write it down in some journal or notebook, the more detailed the better. Do this self-analysis after each instance that you get angry, and you will learn more about yourself and thereby master your own emotions.