Keeping to the topic of emotions, anger is a perfectly normal feeling, yet it’s arguably the most important to manage. Anger has a very strong ripple effect which escalates quickly and subsides slowly. Contrary to sadness, which can be deeply hidden for a long time, anger is a very difficult emotion to contain within. Once faced with it, we have an immediate desire to make it known by directing this energy at something or someone. It is highly contagious and destructive not only to our mind, soul and intellect, but it can easily jeopardize our relationship with others. Our temperament is largely due to our given personalities, beyond our control, but the good news is that we are not made of stone. Our brains have a fascinating ability to adapt and mature through repetition and practice. In other words, we can train ourselves to boost our tolerance and adopt a more laid back character. I am not immune to feeling agitated myself, but here are some ways I use to keep myself more composed.
1. Be silent
When we get bothered by someone (let’s say a disagreement), our first impulse is to immediately voice our anger. However, when our emotions are in disarray, we start to process things out of proportion and we tend to over-dramatize the context. Hold yourself back and do not speak right away. More likely than not, whatever we say in the heat of the moment will only amplify the case. By staying quiet, you’ll find that in just a few minutes, our brain will start to reorient itself and start to see things in a more rational manner. Sometimes you may feel that it’s best to let it go. If you feel a need to address, take your time to cool down and confront the person from a calmer perspective. This allows for mature communication and more listening from both parties. It gives you time to express yourself by choosing the proper words. Remember: it doesn’t matter what someone did or said to you, that’s a reflection of them. But how you react is a reflection of you. The winner is the one who doesn’t retaliate. Be silent when you feel the strongest urge to talk back. This may take a lot of patience and discipline on your end, but it builds good character.
2. Walk away
If it’s too difficult to bite your tongue, then remove yourself from the situation before things get disastrous. Go into another area where it is more quiet and take a moment to breathe.
3. Redirect your focus
Anger can be caused by out-of-the-ordinary circumstances that seem to happen at the wrong place and time. For example, let’s say your car breaks down during an important commute. You’re alone and stuck on the road. It’s normal to respond with anger and think that life is unfair, how much it sucks, and what a waste of time. Sure, we all agree that it sucks. Everyone passing by is thankful they are not in your place. But instead of focusing so much on the negative, redirect your attention to solving the issue. Do you know what the problem might be? Is it a flat tire or the engine? Is there a service that you can call for help? Were you supposed to meet with someone? If so, can you call them and explain the situation? Start problem solving and think logically to distract yourself from feeling angry. Remember: people are willing to help an anxious person, a stressed person, a sad person — but less willing to help an angry person. Realize that unpleasant surprises are a part of life. Anger can only make you feel worse without fixing the problem.
4. Laugh it off
Sometimes when we’re stuck in a setting that we can do nothing about, the best thing to do is just laugh it off. Why bring the mood down when the situation is already down?
5. See things from another angle
Being able to look at things from a different perspective can help prevent resentment towards something or someone. Sometimes, understanding why somebody acted in a certain way, or why things turned out the way they did, can help you accept it more easily. Try to step in their shoes and reverse the roles. Is your mother’s nagging getting on your last nerve? Imagine yourself as a worrying parent. Whether or not she is right, can you at least appreciate her concern for you? Being understanding and considerate towards others leave less reasons for anger.