Having consider issues to do with choosing anger, reinforcement, perspective, seeking opinions and being objective in Part 1 of the series on how to control anger, we now turn our attention to the following anger coping skills in Part 2:
- Keeping a journal
- Say how you feel
- Communication skills
6. Keeping a Journal
Another great anger management tip regarding how to control anger is to keep a journal and write down the thoughts and feelings concerning your anger and your life. Anger-prone people often feel that nobody understands or cares about their problems and that further conflict will arise if they speak openly.
Many people find the actual process of writing down their emotions to be highly therapeutic; it helps them purge their minds of unhealthy thoughts and exorcise their ‘demons’. Also, the ability to look back over the journal as though one were reading someone else’s work may reveal patterns and sequences of behavior, triggers or reasons that are associated with angry outbursts.
Honesty is not just the best policy it should be the only one. Learn to admit to your mistakes; everyone makes them. Yep, we are all imperfect, however, that is no excuse for not aiming to raise our standards through self-improvement. If your behavior has been unsatisfactory say sorry, mean it and be determined not to repeat it. This helps break the blame game; the cycle of making the excuse that you were “angry because of….!”. Sure, you might have felt rising anger, but never forget:
Lose your cool…and look a fool!
8. Say How You Feel
The process of simply saying out loud, even in an empty room, that you are upset and angry has been shown to decrease the intensity of your feelings. By not acknowledging, suppressing or bottling up our emotions we risk the ‘bottle’ eventually overflowing; explosively so in some individuals. Suppression invariably leads to us damaging our physical health as well as our emotional and spiritual well-being.
Alternatively, consider confronting the situation or individual. Talk to the person or people involved, calmly of course, and to try to determine the root of the problem. The whole thing might have been a mix-up, a misunderstanding. Also, if the other party knows that you are attempting to deal with your anger problems in a mature way, it can be surprising how much more accommodating they are to resolving the issue.
If things don’t go as well as expected, avoid being drawn into an argument and maintain firm control of your emotions; do not re-ignite your anger. Remember, although compromise is sought, there has to be room for acceptance. Sometimes, especially if we are dealing with unreasonable people, we have to accept that the situation may remain unresolved despite our best intentions. We have 3 options at this point:
- Become consumed with anger and end up either damaging our health or that of the other person.
- If the issue is important, consider taking professional or legal advice to resolve it.
- If relatively unimportant, we can set aside our pride and simply move on. It’s not that you are a pushover, but using logic rather than animal instinct, the winner of such a situation is the one who cuts the best deal for themselves. Making a clean break and leaving the other person to stew is far more preferable than choosing a lower quality of life with broken sleep patterns, higher blood pressure and surging stress chemicals pounding around your body.
Try not to brood, dwell or keep repeating an incident in your mind that led to you getting angry. Constant playback is very common in people who have experienced traumatic events and who keep having flashbacks. Do something to take your mind off it, as constantly reliving the event will slowly eat you away emotionally, exaggerate and intensify the emotion. Cognitive therapy can help shift the focus away from negative thoughts and modify them so as to produce a more positive emotional outcome.
10. Communications Skills
A significant number of adults with anger issues have poorly developed or inadequate communications skills. Often a fit of anger arises because an individual misunderstood a conversation. Before giving it any thought, they become enraged and filled with anger – they typically ‘jump the gun’.
Not only does anger management therapies aim to improve an individual’s communication skills, it teaches them to slow down their thinking and to think before they speak or react. The easily angered, defensive person needs to listen rationally to what the other person has to say, evaluate the underlying message and try not to jump to conclusions or fight back.
Part 3 in the series about coping skills to control anger will consider:
- Venting anger
- Being grateful
- Visualization techniques