Take Control of Your Anger
Everybody gets angry, but out-of-control rage isn’t good for those around you, and it plays havoc with your own body. Here are some tips to help you ‘simmer down.’
Simple relaxation tools such as deep breathing and relaxing imagery can help calm down angry feelings. If you are involved in a relationship where both partners are hot-tempered, it might be a good idea for both of you to learn these techniques.
Some simple steps you can try:
- Breathe deeply, from your diaphragm. Breathing from your chest won’t relax you. Picture your breath coming up from your ‘gut.’
- Slowly repeat a calming word or phrase such as ‘relax’ or ‘take it easy.’ Repeat it to yourself while breathing deeply.
- Use imagery; visualize a relaxing experience from either your memory or your imagination.
- Non-strenuous, slow exercises such as yoga can relax your muscles and make you feel much calmer.
Practice these techniques daily. Learn to use them automatically when you’re in a tense situation.
Cognitive Restructuring for Anger
Simply put, this means changing the way you think. Angry people tend to curse, swear, or speak in highly colorful terms that reflect their inner thoughts. When you’re angry, your thinking can get very exaggerated and overly dramatic. Try replacing these thoughts with more reasonable ones. For instance, instead of telling yourself, ‘Oh, it’s awful, it’s terrible, everything’s ruined,’ tell yourself, ‘It’s frustrating, and it’s understandable that I’m upset about it, but it’s not the end of the world and getting angry is not going to fix it anyhow.’
Be careful of words like ‘never’ or ‘always’ when talking about yourself or someone else. ‘This machine never works,’ or ‘You’re always forgetting things’ are not just inaccurate; they also tend to make you feel that your anger is justified and that there’s no way to solve the problem. They also alienate and humiliate people who might otherwise be willing to work with you on a solution.
For example, suppose you have a friend who is constantly late when you have made plans to meet. Don’t go on the attack; think instead about the goal you want to accomplish–getting you and your friend there at about the same time. Avoid saying things like, ‘You’re always late! You’re the most irresponsible, inconsiderate person Iíve ever met!’ The only goal that accomplishes is hurting and angering your friend.
State what the problem is, and try to find a solution that works for both of you; or take matters into your own hands. For example, you might set your meeting time a half-hour early, so that your friend will, in fact, get there on time, even if you have to trick him or her into doing it! Either way, the problem is solved and the friendship isn’t damaged.