Practical Tips and Strategies for Controlling Anger and Dealing with Angry People
One of the most common forms that healing crisis can play out in groups of people, especially those without impulse control or self-awareness, is to get really frustrated and angry from not knowing how to express pent up emotions. We have a lot of people on this earth who do not know how to handle or diffuse the intensity of pent up emotional anger that they feel bubbling up from deep inside themselves and sourcing from the collective consciousness. Our culture is not taught about the forms of anger, how to diffuse anger, how to gain control over personal impulses of anger, and how to get to the source of anger before it starts to take complete control over that person’s mind, emotions and body. It is important to recognize, now more than ever, expressing uncontrolled anger and violent outbursts without self-control is dangerous to you and dangerous to others. Expressing anger with violence only breeds more anger around you, and will infuse destructive energies into your life.
Everybody gets angry, but out-of-control rage is very destructive for all involved, and it plays havoc with your own body and attracts negative entities. Here are some tips to help you not lose your cool and be able to stay centered while feeling intense emotions.
Simple relaxation tools such as deep breathing, meditation and relaxing imagery can help calm down angry feelings. (If these feel consistently out of reach, please read 'physiology of fear' under tools, to self-assess whether your nervous system may be stuck in fight-flight from unresolved trauma.) If you are involved in a relationship where both partners are hot-tempered, it might be a good idea for both of you to learn these techniques. Do not try to discuss things when tempers are flared, but allow each other to take some space and return to the conversation when feeling more calm.
Some simple steps you can try:
- Breathe deeply from your diaphragm. Breathing from your chest won't relax you. Picture your breath coming up from your lower gut.
- Slowly repeat a calming word or phrase such as 'relax' or 'take it easy.' Repeat it to yourself while breathing deeply.
- Use imagery or meditation; visualize a relaxing experience from either your memory or your imagination.
- Non-strenuous movement, slow exercises such as yoga can relax your muscles and make you feel much calmer.
Practice these techniques daily. Learn to use them automatically when you're in a tense situation.
Simply put, this means changing the way you think. Angry and disconnected people tend to curse, swear, or speak in highly colorful terms that reflect their inner thoughts. When you're angry, your thinking can get very exaggerated and overly dramatic. Try replacing these thoughts with more reasonable ones. For instance, instead of telling yourself, 'Oh, it's awful, it's terrible, everything's ruined,' tell yourself, 'It's frustrating, and it's understandable that I'm upset about it, but it's not the end of the world and getting angry is not going to resolve it anyhow.'
Be careful of overly dramatic words like 'never' or 'always' when talking about yourself or to someone else. Such as 'This machine never works,' or 'You're always forgetting things' are not just inaccurate, they also feed archetypes of drama and tend to make you feel that your anger is justified and that there is no way to solve the problem. They also alienate and humiliate people who might otherwise be willing to work with you on finding a mutually beneficial solution. It may be helpful to learn non-violent communication skills if your communications do not seem to land as you intend them.
For example, suppose you have a friend who is constantly late when you have made plans to meet. Don't go on the offensive, think instead about the goal you want to accomplish, of getting you and your friend there at about the same time. Avoid saying things like, 'You're always late! You're the most irresponsible, inconsiderate person I've ever met!' The only goal that accomplishes is hurting feelings and putting people on the defensive.
State what the problem is and try to find a solution that works for both of you, or take matters into your own hands and set proper boundaries. For example, you may only set up meetings when you have a lot of flexible time and can bring reading material and relax in a scenic spot until your friend shows up. This way if they are late, you don't feel you are actually waiting for them because you are already enjoying yourself. When we release our rigid expectations of others, and we see them as they really are, we cannot expect them to be something that they are not. When we find greater acceptance for some things that happen to us in life, we also find greater calm and peace. This way, you diminish your own internal stress and your relationships are not damaged.
Remind yourself that getting angry is not going to be positive for your health or fix anything, as it won't make you feel any better and may actually make you feel worse.
Comprehension of the larger picture of events also diffuses personal anger, because anger even when it's justified, can quickly become irrational or mentally obsessive. Commit to see the larger picture, depersonalize the events and remind yourself that to bring peace into your daily life, one must practice being peaceful. Remind yourself that the world is not 'out to get you,' you're just experiencing some of the rough spots. Do this each time you feel anger getting the best of you, and it will help you get into a more balanced perspective. Also use the negative ego clearing tool, 5 steps to clear negative ego is suggested. Learn how to refocus your mind back into positive outlets when in the heat of the moment.
Angry and disconnected people tend to demand things like fairness, appreciation, agreements, or a willingness to do things, in order to control things to go their way. Everyone has preferences and we may feel hurt and disappointed when things do not go they way we would like them to. But angry people demand what they want, rather than build trust to earn what they want, and when their demands aren't being met, their disappointment and frustration can easily become anger. As part of their cognitive restructuring, angry people need to become aware of their demanding nature, and translate their expectations into desires being respectfully communicated to others. In other words, making requests 'I would like this' is healthier than saying 'I demand this' or 'I must have' something done this way right now. When an angry, disconnected person is unable to get what they want, they will experience the common reactions of frustration, disappointment, and hurt. Some angry people use their anger as a way to avoid feeling emotional pain, but that doesn't mean the hurt feelings go away. Most of the time their anger outburst is buried on top of many unresolved emotional conflicts and painful wounding that they have avoided addressing.
Sometimes anger and frustration are caused by very real challenges and inescapable problems in our lives. Not all anger is misplaced and often it's a healthy, natural response to these difficulties. The best attitude to bring to such a situation is to focus not on finding the solution, but rather on how to handle and face the problem in the moment. Suppressing anger is not productive, where acknowledging the feeling and finding a way to release the tension and stress, without harming others around you is productive.
Make a plan and check your progress along the way. (People who have trouble with planning might find a good guide to organizing or time management helpful.) Resolve to give it your best, but don't punish yourself if an answer doesn't come right away. If you can approach the issue with your best intentions and efforts, and you will be less likely to lose patience and fall into all-or-nothing thinking, even if the problem does not get solved right away.
Angry people tend to jump to and act on conclusions, and some of those conclusions can be completely fabricated or assumed as accurate when they are not. The first thing to do if you are in a heated discussion is to slow down and really think your responses through. The key is to learn how to respond rather than react. Don't blurt out the first thing that comes into your head, but slow down and think carefully about what you really want to say. At the same time, listen carefully to what the other person is saying and take your time before answering them. Unfiltered anger can damage relationships, causing great regret when the anger has subsided.
Listen, to what underlies the angry feelings. For instance, suppose you like a certain amount of freedom and personal space, and your significant other wants more connection and closeness with you. If he or she starts complaining about your activities, don't retaliate by painting your partner as a oppressor, warden, or an albatross around your neck.
It's natural to feel defensive when you're being criticized by another, but don't retaliate with a barb, instead really listen to what lies beneath the words. Learning to become a better listener will improve communication skills and conflict resolution in your relationships considerably. Perhaps the real message is that this person feels neglected and unloved. It may take a lot of patient questioning on your part to uncover this, and it may require some breathing space, but don't let your anger, or a partner's, make a discussion spin out of control into angry words. Keeping your cool and staying calm can keep the situation from becoming disastrous.
Laughter is the best medicine and silly humor can help diffuse anger that is building into rage in a number of ways. Laughter and humor can help you get a more balanced perspective while in the middle of a tense situation. Humor is a powerful strategy to lower our stress levels, and it gives us another way to respond to the situation. If we are able to laugh at ourselves and the situation, it helps to release the emotional tension and reveal that many small things are not enough to get upset about. Looking at a problem from a humorous perspective and finding what is funny about the irony of it all, makes the problem seem less dire and more solvable.
Humor shifts the ways in which we think and thus opens opportunities to be more responsible in controlling our impulses. Finding a few outlets for laughter and humor can be a sanity saver while under a lot of stress. When you feel excessively frustrated or angry, take the situation and shift them to see the funny side, learn to laugh or make the issue lighter to bear. Nourish a sense of humor and find funny movies, comedians, books or songs that make you laugh. Certainly one of my all time favorites is this animal video here.
However, there are two cautions in using humor when addressing problems. First, don't use humor to shrug off personal responsibility to others and try to get away by just 'laughing off' the problem. Rather, use humor to help yourself face problems and conflicts more constructively. Second, don't give in to harsh sarcastic humor, that's just another form of unhealthy aggression.
Anger can be a seriously harmful emotion, but it's often accompanied by ideas that, if examined, can actually make you laugh.
Changing Your Environment
Sometimes it's our immediate surroundings that give us cause for feeling agitated and annoyed. Problems and responsibilities can weigh on you and make you feel angry at the trap you seem to have fallen into, and all the people and things that form that trap.
Give yourself a break. Make sure you have some personal time scheduled during parts of the day that you know are particularly stressful. For example, a working mother might make a standing rule that when she comes home from work, the first 15 minutes will be quiet time. With this brief respite, she will feel better prepared to handle the demands from her kids without blowing up at them.
Some other tips for easing up:
- Timing. If you and your spouse tend to fight when you discuss things at night, perhaps you're tired or distracted, or maybe it's just become a bad habit. Try changing the times and creating a quiet space for when you talk about important matters, so these talks don't escalate into arguments.
- Avoidance. If you get furious every time you walk by your child's chaotic room, shut the door. Don't make yourself look at what infuriates you. Don't say to yourself, 'Well, my child should clean up the room so I won't have to be angry!' That's not the point. The point is to keep yourself calm.
- Finding alternatives. If your daily commute through traffic leaves you in a state of rage and frustration, give yourself a project. Perhaps you could find a different route, one that's less congested or more scenic. Or find an alternative way to travel, such as taking a bus or commuter train.
One of the most dangerous features of anger is that expressing anger increases the anger of others around you and this incites violence and harm into the environment. This can lead to a rapid and dangerous escalation of destructive and painful energies spreading like a virus. People may try to harm the target of their anger, whether its justified or not. The impulse to harm is probably a central part of the anger response for most people, thus telling us it directly leads to committing actions of violence and brutality. While anger can be dangerous and must be constrained, it should be acknowledged for the reasons it is there, and not be denied, or covered up by deceptions and lies.
When we learn to control our angry impulses, and stop directing regular angry outbursts at others, choosing instead to source our anger and be responsible for our own behavior, we start to help build our own sense of positively coping with stress, which helps to build our self-esteem and confidence. Self-esteem is what is needed to know that you can get through the challenges and stressors of everyday life without fear or feeling threatened by others because they have different belief systems or perceptions.
Use the Golden Rule treat others as you would like to be treated and notice how things shift in your life!