Strategies for keeping anger at bay (part 4 of 4)
Calm the anger: Humor is great!
Humor defuses anger because it helps you get a more balanced perspective. When you get angry at someone and call that someone a name, stop and visualize the word becoming alive. If your coworker is a “dirtbag,” picture a large bag full of dirt talking on the phone or going to meetings. As silly as it may seem, it takes the edge off your emotions.
If your anger arises from thinking that things ought to go your way and that you are morally right, then see yourself as a god with everyone around bowing to you. Is this reasonable? As you build up similar scenarios and scenes in your mind, you will realize that some things are not important to be angry about. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
A word of caution: don’t try to just “laugh off” your problems; rather, use humor to help yourself face them more constructively. Don’t give in to harsh, sarcastic humor; that’s just another form of unhealthy anger expression.
Calm the anger: Change Your Environment
Sometimes our immediate surroundings cause frustration and anger. Problems and responsibilities weigh on you, and you feel trapped.
Give yourself a break. Make room for some personal time during the day, especially those times that are particularly stressful. One example is when you come home from work. For the first 15 minutes have a brief quiet time, and now move on to being open to your family.
Calm the anger: Practice empathy.
As the argument builds up, try to see the situation from the perspective of the other person. Just as you feel it, their need isn’t being met. Ask yourself “what is going on with him/her and me”?
Calm the anger: Check your lifestyle.
Lack of sleep, lack of exercise, stress buildup and lack of self-care increase the frequency and magnitude of anger. Lack of hydration leads to irritability too, so drink plenty of water during the day.
Calm the anger: Use your social network.
Ask for feedback from friends and family. Do they notice your triggers? Tell them you are changing your behavior and you need their support and feedback. Take time to simply ‘be’ with people. No agenda, no bringing work into your relationships. Chat, do an activity with them.
Calm the anger: Trust!
Others do not necessarily do things on purpose to annoy or frustrate you. They often focus less on you than you might think! Build strong relationships with family, friends and colleagues. This way you will be less prone to interpreting their actions negatively. Be consistent with people, put your actions where your mouth is. As they trust you, they too will be come more reliable.
Calm the anger: Listen!
Frustrations often arise from miscommunications. Focus on what people say before you prepare your response, don’t get distracted until they’re finished. Ask if you don’t get a clear message such as by reflecting back on what you heard.
When people are angry, they tend to jump to conclusions, which might be inaccurate. Don’t say the first thing that comes to mind. Instead, slow down and think your response through. Hence the value of really listening carefully to what the other says.
Listen to yourself, through your bodily responses. When you start tensing up, something is triggering your anger. Identify what is going on. Sometimes people criticize you, and you become first defensive, then angry. The underlying words of critic by the other often means they feel neglected. Keep your cool and identify why they come to critics. Getting angry will lead a discussion spinning out of control.
Calm the anger: Is it worth it?
Life is short. You or your partner or any acquaintance with whom you are arguing could get ill or die tomorrow. If you spend all of your time getting angry, you’re going to miss many joys. Anger is known to be destructive of relationships. Is it worth it?
Calm the anger: Apologize
if needed, and let go if you didn’t start the argument.
If you blew out of proportion, make amends. If you hold onto your anger, you won’t relax. Sometimes walking away is best to your health rather than staying in and winning. So ask yourself again: Is it worth it?
And a tool for masters: Suppress the Anger
Anger can be suppressed, and then converted or redirected. Hold in your anger, stop thinking about it and focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your anger and convert it into more constructive behavior. For example, if you are outraged by poor traffic conditions, lobby your local transport and planning authorities. If you argue with a co-worker far too often, go boxing at the gym or create that drawing masterpiece!
There’s a danger in this. If you do not allow an outward expression, you will turn the anger inward, and get ill. Anger turned inward may cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression.
Timing: If you and your spouse tend to fight after you are back from work, when you’re tired, or distracted, —try changing the times when you talk about important matters, so these talks don’t turn into arguments.
Avoidance: If a chaotic room or a place make you furious every time you walk by it, shut the door or don’t go there. Don’t make yourself look at what infuriates you. Don’t say, “well; it should be this or that way!” That’s not the point. The point is to keep yourself calm.
Finding alternatives: If doing something anger you, such as commuting during rush hours in the MTR, give yourself a project—learn or map out a different route perhaps by bus, or walk part of the way or ride the MTR before or after rush hours.
“Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what man does with what happens to him” – Aldous Huxley.