By Alkesh Patel LCP, CSAC, CEO
Among a spectrum of human emotions, anger is perhaps the most hated one. Often, it’s seen as an emotion that we should either suppress or diminish in all cases. While it’s true that anger can leave damage in its trail, it’s not as bad as it seems.
In a healthy and controlled manner, anger can be positive, even vital, in many cases. It can help us make a change, set boundaries, get our needs met, strengthen bonds, and accomplish goals. Like all other emotions, anger also serves a purpose for us. Such negative feelings are our body’s message for us, telling us that there’s a problem. It can help us see when we’re mistreated and that we need to take action.
Nelson Mandela’s life path is a good example of how we can use anger to our advantage. Nelson was a great philanthropist and fought hard for his people. Although he always promoted peace, he knew anger was necessary to push him forward towards his goal.
He learned to channel his anger for his betterment, and this served him well in his path. In one of his famous quotes, he said
“Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies.”
How to channel and control your anger?
All that being said, learning to control and channel your anger is essential. If you don’t control your anger, it will end up controlling you. Let’s take a look at a few strategies that can help you control your aggression.
The first thing you should do as soon as you get angry is to pay attention to your anger reaction. Becoming self-aware helps you understand that you are no longer in a normal thinking state. You are in a hyperactive state, and you might do things that you will regret later. Notice what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it.
Unlike children, adults have a degree of control over themselves. When we understand what’s going on and where it’s leading us, it will help us think before we act.
One of the best things you can physically do to calm yourself down is to use breathing for relaxation. Breathing slowly tricks your mind into thinking that you’re in a safe space. This helps further calm you down. Inhale and exhale 4 or 5 times deeply in a row, place your body in a comfortable position, and try to relax.
And remember, we always have a choice no matter how angry we are. So, choose to be calm and make your decisions when your emotions cool down.
Remind yourself it’s temporary.
Anger is an extremely emotional state, and it only lasts for about 10 minutes. That’s all you have to control yourself for. But the actions taken during anger can lead to long-lasting resentment.
For example, if your daughter comes home, ignores your kind gestures, goes into her room, and slams her door, this does not mean you also respond with anger. Remind yourself that it’s her, not you. Don’t respond with anger. Rather, give her space, and then communicate when things settle down. This will help both you and her. She will identify her feelings and try to be better in control next time.
Whenever you feel like you’re losing it, get a grip on your emotions, and remind yourself that you will return back to a normal state within half an hour. So, you don’t need to do anything that you will regret later. Remind yourself of the last time you lost control over yourself and how damaging the consequences were.
The more you stay in a heated situation, the angrier you get. Therefore, when you’re in such a condition, it’s sometimes better to walk away. Distract your mind by changing your environment or the task you were doing.
Try leaving the place and going out for a walk. Exercising is a great way to release built-up emotions and become calm. You can try other great things too, such as singing, dancing or listening to music as these not only calm you down but improve your mood too.
Get to the root of your anger.
What is actually causing you to become angry in the first place? What do you say when you’re angry? Respect me? Back off? Sometimes, we have unmet needs that lead to frustration, and it comes out as anger. This anger can be triggered with even mundane things, but the real cause is the tension that’s been building up.
Often the leading cause of anger is stress. Pay attention to what causes this stress? Multitasking, losing a job, pregnancy, destructive work environment, bad diet, lack of communication in relationships, and bad routine are among some of the major contributors to stress.
Tackle this by improving your lifestyle and discussing your troublesome emotions with others. You can manage stress with activities such as gratitude, meditation, and physical exercises to a great extent. See your expectations too, are they too unrealistic? Having unrealistic expectations can also lead to anger. So, see where you’re wrong and instead try to appreciate what you have at the moment.
Manage your schedule and see what changes you can make to reduce stress. Workout more, get proper sleep at night, and set an adequate routine. Put away your phone and avoid multitasking. Making such small changes will lead to a big difference in making you less stressed and more controlling towards your anger.
Anger can help us fulfil our needs and at the same time it can be devastating. Learning to control it before it controls you is important for us to stay healthy and make wise decisions. You can use the strategies above to get a better control over yourself and use your emotions to the best of your advantage.