Be in Control of Your Anger: Ways to Manage Rage and Tame That Temper

Take control now or your body will have to pay the price later
October 10, 2019 Updated: October 10, 2019

Anger is a natural emotion that we all experience in the course of life. However, no amount of trying to make it go away will help this feeling completely fade away.

Researchers for a national survey on anger found that most of their participants experienced anger, such as temper outbursts or getting upset over little things. Out of the more than 34,000 adults surveyed, “overall prevalence of inappropriate, intense, or poorly controlled anger in the U.S. population was 7.8 percent.”

Their followup question, “did this ever trouble you or cause problems at work or school, or with your family or other people?” revealed a large number of cases where it really has been destructive.

But the good news is that there are ways to manage your anger and help turn it into something productive rather than destructive. To begin with, however irresistible getting angry might seem, especially when someone cuts you off while driving a car or makes us late for an important meeting, it’s just not worth it to lash out on the spur of the moment and then regret what you said or did.

Below are eight ways of managing your anger effectively rather than letting it get the best of you.

Illustration – Shutterstock | Africa Studio

1. Ask Yourself “Why?”

Anger takes us out of a rational space into an emotional one. If something has angered you, whether it’s a person or an object, what can you do about it? Chances are not much, because the triggering event happened in the past.

If you stop for a moment and ask yourself “Why am I so angry?” you will probably find that it’s because you weren’t in control. Remembering that you can’t control other people’s behavior or the traffic or the weather and accepting the problem is the first step to managing your anger.

2. Take Responsibility

We often externalize anger by yelling or swearing, slamming a door, or in more extreme situations throwing things around. However, how much of what we are really upset about has to do with us? As the great Greek philosopher Plato wrote, “there are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot.”

Say for example if you’re late for work after getting stuck in traffic and your impulse would be to honk or shout at other drivers. However, take a minute to step back and ask yourself, “Is it really their fault, though?” What if you had left home a few minutes earlier to beat the rush hour?

3. Get Your Anger Out

When you’re angry at a situation or a person, dumping all the negativity you feel on that particular person or problem you believe can be very tempting. However, start by managing it instead of losing your temper and embarrassing yourself in public. Try by taking yourself out of the office or the house.

Removing yourself from a stressful situation can be a practical solution. Try doing some exercises, which can help release the pent-up adrenaline. Go for a walk to get some perspective or find a constructive outlet for your anger, even if it’s not one you share with anyone else.

Illustration – The Epoch Times | Jeff Nenarella

A study at the University of Georgia, Athens, found that physical activity can improve our mood, especially for subjects with “high trait anger.” While the researchers found that while physical activity doesn’t stop us from getting angry, “results indicate that acute exercise both 1) reduces angry mood and 2) mitigates angry mood induction.”

4. Find Better Ways to Express Yourself

Illustration – Pixabay | StockSnap

The causes of anger can be legitimate, such as a friend or spouse treating you thoughtlessly or your child misbehaving. But blowing your top isn’t going to accomplish anything. In the words of the Buddha, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

The people you are angry at are much more likely to change their behavior if you can talk to them in a calm and rational way, explaining how you feel without making accusations. The first step to this could be by using phrases like, “I don’t feel respected when…” or “This makes me feel unappreciated…” instead of statements like “you don’t treat me well.” This way you give them the chance to see things your way.

5. Laugh at Yourself and With Others

The power of laughter to transform any mood can be immense. When you’re in the midst of anger, everything seems incredibly serious to the point that you blow small actions out of all proportion. A drink spilled on the floor or a door left unlocked becomes grounds for a fight.

If you can find a way to laugh at the situation, you will also find the key to deactivating the ticking time bomb of your anger. Actor Robin Williams once mentioned about his work in an interview with Dotson Rader, a contributor for Parade magazine in 1998, stating: “maybe [comedy] comes from anger, because I’m outraged by cruel absurdities, the hypocrisy that exists everywhere, even within yourself, where it’s hardest to see.”

6. Put Yourself in Others’ Shoes

Illustration – Unsplash | Kelly Sikkema

Empathy is the key to successful relationships. Whether it’s with your spouse, your boss, your employees, or your in-laws, we always try to persuade others to think the way we do and usually end up failing.

Remembering that other people have hopes, dreams, fears, and imperfections just as you do will help you develop more compassion for others.

According to psychological research, developing empathy leads to decreased aggression. The benefits can also lead to developing better relationships, and that is certainly worth your time.

7. Work on Yourself

Anger is often associated with chronic health issues, both as a cause and as a symptom. If you are eating well, exercising, getting the sleep you need, and generally taking the time to pay attention to self-care, then you are much less likely to get angry. Understanding that anger takes a toll on your physical health can make you understand how self-destructive it can be.

A 2019 study from the journal Psychology and Aging showed that particularly as people get older, daily anger is directly linked to higher incidences of inflammation and chronic illness. So if you don’t get a handle on it now, your body will have to pay the price later.

8. Observe Your Emotions

Illustration – Unsplash | Ben White

Keeping track of what it is that makes you angry is extremely helpful. When you feel the surge of anger taking over, step back for a second and watch yourself. Imagine that you are on camera and your actions are being documented. What is it that’s bothering you? How are you handling it? Or try to note down your feelings in a journal.

A study from the Harvard Business School found that participants performed much better on tasks when they took time to reflect on what they had just done rather than moving on to the next task. Using this insight to manage your anger can be highly beneficial. Once you start to recognize the triggers, you are more likely to respond differently the next time a similar situation arises.

Remember that these techniques are for managing your anger, not for making it magically disappear.

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