Anger is not a disease. It is however, a condition.
A condition that everyone goes through every once in a while.
And it is not the presence of anger, or the ability to feel it that causes problems. It is how a person reacts to anger that makes all the difference… and this is where anger management comes in.
It is sometimes puzzling how people can get into such a rage that they do things that they would not normally do.
A great example is road rage. If you have owned your own vehicle and clocked hundreds of miles under your belt, surely you would have encountered bullies on the road. And in some cases, you might actually be the one with a full head of fury.
Why does cutting in front of another driver for example, can leave a driver so livid that he would get off a car and start a fight?
This is such a simple question… yet with such a complicated answer that it’s a good thing we are not discussing it here.
While most people would probably agree that anger has it’s merits from time to time, they would also probably agree that they’d prefer being around people without anger management issues.
And if you are one of those who recognize that you have an anger problem and wishes to manage it, good for you.
You reactive behavior towards anger is directed by your mindset. This mindset is a set of rules of how you see the world and life in general. And when strangers or sometimes people you are familiar with do not fall in line with your “rules”, you feel outraged.
This is the source of where your destructive behavior gets it’s justification from.
Here are some ways to change unhealthy mindset to manage anger.
1) Stop assuming life is predictable
The expectations you have on your surroundings and the people around you is like a ticking time-bomb.
Because nothing can be predicted in life other than what movies are showing on Netflix, expecting the world in general to adhere to your standards and expectations is a recipe for disappointment.
And when events happen that makes a mockery of your “rules”, your temper explodes.
Again. Please be mindful that everybody feel anger. It’s your management of it that is the problem. Anyone can be seething at what they view as injustice. But most are able to just let it go and not pursue them with their emotionally-charged anger.
Expect the unexpected in life. Stop expecting the expected.
Going back to the driver who cut into another driver’s lane, view such an event as things that happen thousands of times each day. That is a fact!
And sometimes, you even do the same. Don’t take it personally.
2) Prank yourself
How do you defuse your frustration to certain specific incidents? By taking on the challenge head-on of course!
- If you hate being on hold on the phone, call up the busiest hotlines and let them put you on hold.
- If queuing flips your switch, next time go find a longer line to wait in line.
- If spam calls triggers your wrath, next time try spending an extra minute on the line.
The point is to raise the ceiling of your temper. With more practice, it would take more extreme versions of the same event to get your temperature rising.
Who knows… you might even finally see and light and fully eliminate your reactive anger from certain events.
3) Change your self-talk
I know this is easier said than done. After all how much self-control can you have when you are feeling exasperation?
That exactly right.
I’m not asking you to change your feelings. I’m just suggesting that you change the way you talk to yourself.
For example, let’s say the kitchen made a terrible mistake of cooking you chicken chops instead of a juicy stake. And you are totally vexed at the waiter who brought you the meal.
At this point you might be feeling terribly angry and telling yourself “I’m going to stir-fry this waiter’s ass right on the stove”.
Try telling yourself “Mistakes happen. Just tell the waiter and the cook should be able to grill my steak in 10 minutes tops.”
Positive and non-violent self-talking is an essential skill of almost all successful people. It helps to not only enable an individual to make clearer decisions, but also help to build more valuable relationships as well.
Change the tone and outlook of that little voice in your head, and you might actually change your life.
4) Venting is not the only option
I get it. Sometimes you might feel that showing your horns is the only way to communicate to someone that you are not someone to mess with.
But then again… why is it necessary for others to perceive you as not a pushover?
And that is just your perception. Most of the time, people don’t even think about thinking whether you are a pushover or not.
It’s all in your own head. And rises from the expectations in your head as mentioned in point #1.
Recognize that venting is a choice. You can actually choose not to vent even when provoked.
And if your purpose is to send a message that you are no loser, there are various other ways to do that as well. The threat of violence is so early century…
If you really need to vent, go squeeze a stress ball, or go kill some pigs on Angry Birds.
A lot of times, we get angry because we got caught with a blind spot. We didn’t see something coming and the sudden appearance send our thoughts over the edge.
And the instinctive response is to get angry.
A simple way to counter this form of anger is to think about all possible scenarios and outcomes of events. And rehearse in your head how to respond and what to do next.
In team sports for example, coaches and managers tailor their tactics with their own predictions what which players would be involved in the opposing team. And if it didn’t turn out as they predicted, they change tactics to manage these unexpected events.
Do you see them resolving these challenges with anger?
No they pretty much have everything planned. It is all about finding out for certain what lineup, players, and tactics the opponent would be engaging in. And then go with the rehearsed reactions accordingly.
You can practice the same.
6) Activate your facade
A facade is a personality mask you put on when interacting with others. Almost everyone will have a full arsenal of different facades in their personality drawer.
It is like you behaving differently when being in the presence of your parents, in-laws, childhood friends, acquaintances, colleagues, best friends, spouse, etc.
Like an actor, we put on these varying personas when meeting different people for one reason or another.
A great way to control your anger and remain calm is to put on one of your facades.
Surely the good boy meeting his in-laws is not going to make a scene? Or is he?
7) Fix thinking errors
There are countless thinking errors that wreak havoc on our lives. I urge anyone to look into themselves and become aware of them.
Then take appropriate actions to tweak them.
On a final note, notice that anger is not unique to you. Anger management is about how you manege your reaction to it. And in many cases, it’s all a matter of DECIDING to put the matter to bed.