The number one thing I learned is that it isn’t necessarily the situation that makes us angry but what we tell ourselves about it.
During my time as a facilitator for the anger management group, I heard it all: “He cut me off on purpose! He was out to get me! That’s why I had to pull out my gun.” “She deserved to get punched! She was in my face, waving her finger and yelling at me.” “He cut me in line. I was waiting, and the jerk just walked right in front of me. I had to push him out of the way.”
That’s how the angry thoughts seduce you into acting out and getting you even more enraged—thinking the other person purposely and maliciously did something to you and you had no choice but to retaliate. It makes sense: If you feel attacked, you attack back.
However, no one in my group was actually in any danger. The danger was in their thought process. Anger is most likely a result of misunderstanding other people’s actions and assigning our own meaning to them.
When people respond to situations with anger, most likely there’s more to the story. Behind their rage might be a fear of being hurt, a fear of not being able to stand up for themselves, or a fear of unjust or unfair things happening. These are all reasonable feelings. However, when those rational feelings are expressed through anger, the situation can become worse.
Since anger can lead to aggressiveness, it’s important to try to tap into your rational mind when you start to feel yourself getting angry. The goal is to learn how to self-soothe and self-regulate, working with the distress and negative feelings that are fueling the anger. Work on talking yourself down versus working yourself up.
For example, when someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of assuming “He saw me and must have done that on purpose!” think to yourself, “They must not have seen me, or maybe they had a long day. It’s nothing personal to me.”
It’s important to remember that anger is a normal human emotion, and when it is managed properly, it isn’t a problem. It only becomes a problem when you lose yourself in it.
I was frustrated that Monday morning because things didn’t happen the way I wanted them to and people didn’t behave the way I thought they should. This led to negative emotions that I could have responded to negatively if I didn’t give myself enough time to talk myself down and cool off.
You may be feeling hurt, frightened, disappointed, worried, embarrassed, or frustrated but express those emotions like anger. That is what I found with the members of my anger management group: All of their emotions were being expressed only as anger. When we look within ourselves, we can see what is really behind our anger. And we can learn to express ourselves differently when we accept that it’s okay to be vulnerable.
Below Are Tips For Managing Your Anger In Everyday Life:
1. Recognize the triggers for your anger, like certain comments, family members, friends, or places that tend to upset you.
2. Try to place yourself in the other person’s shoes, understanding where he or she is coming from.
3. Pay attention to your body’s warning signs of anger: tightness in shoulders, increased heart rate, hot face.
4. Continue an approach that works for you. This could include concentrating on your breathing, meditation, evaluating your thoughts, listening to music, going for a walk, or changing your environment.
5. Practice. Imagine being in a situation that makes you angry and draws upon one of your skills.
6. Remember, it’s okay to get angry. It’s a normal part of being human. The problem lies in how we manage and express it.
7. Don’t judge yourself for getting angry. You are going to lose it every once in a while. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
Learn more about Dr. Ilene’s best-selling self-help books here, https://www.amazon.com/Ilene-Cohen/e/B0764L1MRC
Written By Ilene S. Cohen Originally Appeared In Doctor Ilene