Are you having trouble finding ways to manage your anger? Is anger affecting your relationships, job, or health negatively? If so, these steps to controlling anger could change your life.
Not being able to control, express, or resolve our anger can lead to disastrous consequences. Below is a process to help reduce anger and create more positive outcomes in moments of great anxiety or stress.
Here Are Our 7 Steps to Better Anger Management
Step 1. Learn to Pause
The first and most important step to better anger management is to stop and breathe. Give yourself the opportunity to choose your reaction instead of reacting instinctively with anger. Count to ten, take a deep breath, and contemplate your next move before making it.
Our habitual thought patterns can be trained to change our behavior. Learn to anticipate your triggers, develop an effective coping mechanism, and be prepared to pause. It may be the best thing you can do to avoid elevating your anger to rage or hostility. This may seem like an easy step, but it can be surprisingly difficult as anger rises.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor Frankl
Step 2. Acknowledge and Assess Your Anger
Anger is a natural human emotion. In fact, it has helped our species survive and can be channeled into creating positive outcomes when we minimize or eliminate its negative effects.
First, acknowledge your anger. Recognize its presence and the impact it is having on your current situation and life in general. Once you recognize the anger, you are ready to assess it.
Is your anger causing you pain? Is it causing others pain? Is the reaction warranted in this situation, or an overreaction due to harboring feelings of resentment or frustration from the past? Assess why you are angry, and if anger is an appropriate reaction, before acting.
Step 3. Identify Possible Outcomes
Anger can cloud decision-making and distract us from considering the long-term consequences of our actions. In an extreme fit of anger, we may do or say things we will be embarrassed by or shameful of in the future, causing even more negative emotions. We may say things we’ll later regret, or give in to all or nothing thinking. How can we prevent this?
Ask yourself what an angry reaction is likely to produce. How will this impact the rest of my day? My family? My job? Then, ask yourself what a calmer reaction is likely to produce. Odds are a calmer reaction is going to deliver a more positive outcome.
Once you have thought through both scenarios in detail, it is easier to self-correct and choose the more favorable outcome.
Step 4. Express Your Anger
Part of better anger management is expressing your anger in a way that brings you temporary relief or resolve. This may be through verbal communication with the person who made you angry, a close friend, or a therapist. Or, it could be through art, writing, or interpretative dance.
One way to express your anger in a productive way is journaling. There are many benefits to this exercise, including but not limited to: a safe space to vent your frustrations, more accurate tracking of symptoms and triggers, and a documented history of your anger to reflect on and learn from.
Step 5. Give Yourself Space
Sometimes it is not possible to resolve a situation causing you anger in the present moment. It may be out of your control, or you may be unable to express your anger calmly in the heat of the moment. Pause again. Take a step back. Would you be more emotionally equipped to handle the situation better after a five-minute break? Tomorrow? Next week?
Giving yourself the space to defuse and decompress when anger levels have become unhealthy or unproductive is critical to creating more positive outcomes. This space may be a simple breathing exercise that takes minutes, a walk around the block, or a good night’s rest.
“When is it impossible for anger to arise within you, you find no outside enemies anywhere.” -Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Step 6. Find an Outlet
There are many studies that show physical activity can reduce anger and depression. While it is estimated that 1 in 10 Americans have severe anger issues, only 5 percent of all U.S. adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
Physical activity starts a biological chain of events that result in the release of feel-good endorphins. These endorphins stimulate feelings of well-being and pleasure, as well as activate receptors in the brain that minimize discomfort and pain.
To achieve better anger management, incorporate more positive habits into your lifestyle. Many times, the rest will follow.
Step 7. Monitor Your Media Consumption
What we see and hear on an everyday basis impacts our behavior in ways we are just beginning to understand. Studies show watching the news can increase anxiety, depression, and anger. They also show spending time on social media can do the same. These platforms are designed to keep you engaged and online with content tailored to your likes, dislikes, desires, and triggers.
If you are feeling anxious or angry on a more regular basis, try taking a break from the news and/or social media. Disconnect for a few days, weeks, or months, and see if your everyday outlook changes in a positive manner.
Instead of alarming headlines and clickbait, fill your media diet with funny movies, music you enjoy, and books that provide an escape. Science says you’ll be happy you did.
Learn More About Anger Management
There are many anger management strategies you can employ to improve the quality of your life and relationships. Contact Dean A. Aman LPCMH, LLC today and meet with a licensed counselor or therapist today to better manage your anger.