We all experience anger at some point during our lives. For some, it’s simply problematic; for others it is disastrous, ruining their lives. Remember the famous adage: For every minute of anger you lose 60 seconds of happiness. And we all want happiness, so addressing and managing anger is in our best interest.
The good news is that anger can be controlled. I suggest using a three-step system: 1. It starts with building awareness of the causes that fuel the fires of this emotion. Understanding our own cognitive behavior is helpful here, and it can be achieved through self-study in psychology or by working with a professional. We all need to be able to recognize the specific thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that lead to feelings of anger and aggressive behavior. 2. Self-coping strategies can follow, which include challenging thoughts, reducing psychological arousal, and modifying behavior. 3. The final step is crucial and must be practiced for success: We must adopt a healthy lifestyle that supports our psychic development and promotes more positive thoughts and actions.
What happens if we don’t address anger? It can have negative physical effects. Anger can cause injury, adrenalin surges, high blood pressure, and increased heart rate—possibly resulting in a stroke or heart attack. On the emotional level, anger can create intense guilt, feelings of failure, depression, constant agitation, violent rage, and possibly suicide.
Here are some practices that can help calm the storm of anger when it rises up in your life:
Watch the flow of breath in your body. Whenever psychological arousal starts, the course of breathing also changes. When you notice a change in breath rhythm, start exhaling deeply to reduce the swelling of anger.
Drink water by gulping slowly. It slowly douses the simmering fire of anger inside. Take a sip of water, swirl it in the mouth, and gulp it with awareness.
Paralyze your tongue. Don’t speak while you are angry. Instead, start counting one to 10, or even 100 and then back down to one.
Focus on listening. Become like a tape recorder and only “record” what the other person is saying.
Walk to change your mood. Start outside or away from the spot where you were feeling angry. Changing the place or situation is a good diversion that will keep the heat of anger from building up.
Pray or meditate. Chant a mantra or the name of a person who often helps you stay calm. Meditation is an effective way to sooth your nerves, too.
Listen to music that soothes and clams the mind.
Hit the gym, start jogging, or do some other physical exercise that involve all parts of the body.
Focus on the future and remember the advice of Confucius: When anger rises think of the consequences.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Ask one simple question: “How would I feel if I were on the other side of this anger.”
Forgive and let the past become the past.
Let go of expectations. Expecting something of others usually ends up causing frustrations, and ultimately those disappointments turn into to anger.
Talk to someone you consider wise. A trusted friend or close family member often can help you work through anger more quickly than you can do it alone.
Adopt an assertive attitude rather than an aggressive stance. Phrase your words to avoid conflict and arguments.
Always remain positive. Keep your spirits high and let go of mundane, unproductive affairs. As you think, so you are!