“Anger management” is a popular catch phrase. A lot of people think that by controlling their anger, they can diffuse a tense situation and avoid confrontation. There are a couple things wrong with this thinking. First, many times anger is just, so it’s difficult to dismiss a feeling that is excusable. Second, anger management techniques may help ease a situation, but it is more like putting a small bandage on a much bigger wound. In order to diffuse irritation from the roots, try these seven tips.
When anger is just, all we need to do is find someone who will listen to us. Anger is contagious most often because we attribute other people’s anger as threat. If we are in the presence of an angry person, there is a good chance we will become angry ourselves. Instead of allowing a fight to develop, the best way to diffuse anger, is to listen to the person and understand their position. Many customer service representatives are trained not to become defensive, but allow an irate customer to express themselves. This allows them to calm down enough to work out the problem rationally.
2. Inner Dialogue
When you feel the blood in your veins boil, listen to your inner dialogue. If it sounds something like, “This !@&%#$ computer never…” or “My #%$&@ husband always,” you are feeding your anger with justification, and creating a lose/lose situation. Not only will this frame of mind feed your anger, but it could end up alienating or humiliating yourself and others if this inner dialogue seeps to your vocal cords.
Anger can be a result of resentment against those who are a threat to our ego. This is seen in road rage, where one driver feels as if other drivers are disrespecting them, and therefore they take on a personal vendetta against everyone on the road. To resist feeling entitled, psychologists recommend calling upon reason. Instead of demanding respect from others, try thinking in terms of wishing to receive it. When we wish for something and don’t receive it, we are left with disappointment, which is a lot better than demanding it, and being left with anger when it doesn’t happen.
When we blame people and things for bad events, it makes us angry. Blame is a lost cause because it implies there is nothing to do but punish those responsible. Blame distorts reality, making life appear as if everything bad can be traced back to something or someone against us. Logically, we know most people are not trying to destroy our destiny, so instead of blaming them for our troubles and punishing (anger), channel that negative energy towards improving the situation.
Having anger can actually be motivation to do great things if you have the right frame of mind. Look at all the great figures in history who used their anger to drive them towards making a stand against tyranny and persecution. You may not be a victim of these injustices, but even having a healthy anger against drunk driving can motivate you enough to start a program or make better decisions for yourself. Anger is not bad when it can be channeled towards helpful and creative actions.
By reducing feelings of vulnerability, we can reduce the chance of feeling angry in almost any situation. Psychologists recommend visualizing our worth every time we feel we’re being undervalued. For instance, say your spouse forgot to take out the garbage. Instead of imagining them as disrespecting you and your relationship, think of the things they have done to show their appreciation and love. The idea is not to punish or praise your spouse for their actions, but see the situation from a different perspective, realizing that anger offers no value to the situation.
Humor is a powerful tool to diffuse anger. This isn’t saying to laugh your problems away, but see them in a different light. When someone does something to hurt us, we can picture them in a silly, compromising position to help release initial anger. We can also use humor during our own tantrums, to see how ridiculous we’re acting. As in the example of the spouse who forgot to take out the garbage, rather than humiliating them for their forgetfulness, find a constructive way to express your disappointment.