Counting to ten is a nice idea– when anger wants to play nice!
Unfortunately, when your anger is triggered, the only counting you’re inclined to do is a countdown…10,9,8,7…Right before you explode.
Anger is fine when you need to fight back, protect, and defend.
But your anger needs to be managed, however, if your fights are constant, your behaviour is hurtful, and you it find more and more difficult to defend your actions.
So, what’s an angry person to do?
Become aware of your own internal responses, feelings, and the consequences to others.
First, Notice the booby traps.
There is something happening to your body and in your mind leading up to an angry outburst. Something unexpected or inconsiderate may activate your initial reaction. You feel offended. Your first reaction is to push back.
Whatever is happening externally is triggering something extreme inside you. Start there.
Observe your own body:
- Is your heart racing?
- Is your breath shallow?
- Are your fists clenched and ready for action?
Determine which thoughts are making trouble for you:
Characterizations (“what a jerk”, I hate people like that”, “she needs be taught a lesson”) make it easy to depersonalize and minimize the human impact of your response.
Generalizations (“this is always happening to me”, “no one ever listens to me”, “I never get things my way”) create unsupported certainties about situations and people that justify your response.
Accusations (“this is all your fault”, “you make me do this”) keep the focus external and absolve you of responsibility.
Try to take your eyes off the offender. Focus inward. This is where you can begin to take control.
Next, Uncover the true minefield.
Take a good look around your emotional landscape. There may be something behind that first distracting flash of temper.
Attempt to get to your core feelings:
Understanding deeper hurt or concerns may make you less vulnerable to them and less explosive in response. You do not have to do this alone.
Seek out a counselor‘s assistance if you are wrestling with these issues:
- You cannot get past your angry feelings alone.
- You cannot trust yourself in new or tense situations.
- You have experienced legal trouble as a result of your anger problems.
- Your angry outbursts have become violent.
Consider the consequences:
When counting to ten doesn’t work, count the costs to your life and relationships instead. Examine the fallout created by the way you cope with anger.Are your loved ones or co-workers confident that they can respectfully disagree with you?Are you suffering from chronic health conditions, like high blood pressure or depression, due to the strain of rage or suppressed anger?
As you examine the full spectrum of your feelings and how others are affected, you may find it harder to get swept away by anger.
Finally, diffuse or disarm the explosion.
Contain the eruption. Try the following strategies to check outbursts and preserve your peace:
- Leave the past behind. It’s easy to make conflicts cumulative. Adding up past grievances can escalate anger quickly.
- Ask “Is it worth it?” Consider whether you or your best interests are really served by repeatedly playing out one conflict after another.
- Let it go. You’ll find you have more time and energy once you realize that there really isn’t a fight around every corner.
Anger management takes time and practice.
Don’t get discouraged and don’t give up.
With the right help and the right tools, you can start building a more even-tempered and gratifying life.