Control Your Anger before It Controls You

· June 20, 2016

Sometimes it takes little for us to lose our temper and for anger to take control. Maybe we’re extremely tired and feel more irritable than normal, or maybe a mean comment has put us out of sorts, or maybe everything is just pushing us to the limit.

In these moments, anger takes advantage of us. We can’t manage our anger and we lash out at everything that moves, even though it has nothing to do with the reason we’re angry.

These situations consume us, causing us to behave aggressively, irresponsibly, and sometimes even cruelly. After the storm, we may feel very embarrassed and disconcerted, and the inability to recognize ourselves can start to eat away at us.

However, even if we think it’s impossible to manage our emotions in those times, there are alternatives for controlling anger. We give some examples below:

woman with steam coming out of her ears

How can we control our anger?

We should forget the assumption that anger is not good. It’s normal to get angry and even furious sometimes, which is different from not knowing how to manage our anger.

It’s also worth mentioning that while anger is a healthy negative emotion, uncontrolled and disproportionate anger is unhealthy. This is known as rage. We should always try to keep our anger from growing into rage. But how?

1. Recognizing the causes of anger

Everyone should become aware of and explore the things that make them angry, bother them, and contribute to feelings of distress, injustice, inequality, etc. Anger is always a product of how we interpret things.

2. Noticing the physical warning signs

Even though we should remember that everyone is different, usually when we start to feel annoyed or angry, our heart rate accelerates, we feel like our insides are shrinking, and we feel hot and nervous.

punching water

As we already said, anger can go from slight irritation to intense rage and fury. So the belief that it’s better to get our anger out instead of keeping it inside is completely false. If you’re able to identify the first symptoms, you can cut it off at its roots before it runs wild.

To do so, you must learn certain relaxation exercises like interrupting your thoughts or controlling your breathing (breathe at a rhythm of 2 or 3 seconds of inhalation and 2 or 3 seconds of exhalation to return to normal)You can also listen to music, do some physical exercise, watch TV, visualize a relaxing image, etc.

3. Examining our thoughts

Maybe you feel like your thoughts are cloudy, or they’re piling up, thwarting your attempts to organize your mind. That’s why it’s important to recognize the kind of thoughts that arise when you get angry.

  • Heated thoughts come before, during, and after the incident that made you angry, and they make you feel worse. Thoughts like “How stupid,” “They’re laughing at me,” “I hate this place,” and “They’re going to find out!”
  • Mistakes in our ways of thinking: sometimes we take things personally, ignore the positives, try to be perfect, or see things as black and white.

In this sense, you have to fight with your thoughts in order to make them more balanced so that “they always leave me stranded” turns into something like “sometimes they don’t act the way they should, but sometimes they do.” You can make a comparative list and keep it close at hand whenever necessary.

angry woman

4. Controlling our aggressive behavior

If we’re able to manage our thoughts and the physical symptoms of rage, we won’t behave aggressively. But it’s pretty likely that the time will come, so we have to learn how to manage it. How? By following three steps:

  • Step One: Identify what each aggressive behavior consists of, what happened before, and what happened after. It’s a good idea to keep a diary of this.
  • Step Two: Write a list of alternative behaviors to aggression. You could leave or remove  yourself from the situation until you feel more calm, breathe deeply, try to understand other people’s intentions, etc.
  • Step Three: Put these alternative behaviors into practice the next time you feel violent.

5. Solving your problems and getting enough sleep

A lack of sleep and an excess of stress can predispose you to irritability and angry behavior. That’s why it’s important to confront these situations head on, evaluate them, and not delay in resolving them.

man with steam coming out of his ears

6. Communicating appropriately

Sometimes we take things too personally, and as a consequence, we make hasty conclusions about other people’s intentions. It’s important to improve our social communication and follow the advice below:

  • Stop and listen to the other person.
  • Don’t make hasty conclusions. If something sounds offensive, you should ask that person to explain themselves, but you shouldn’t make a counterattack.
  • Try to understand other people’s feelings, which usually underlie the things this person says and does. Remember that no feelings are invalid and that you can probably avoid many arguments that way.
  • Try to express how you feel instead of saying hurtful things.

If you take care of all of these aspects, as well as your self-image, you’ll probably be less susceptible and sensitive to getting carried away by disproportionate anger.