Everybody gets angry at one time or another due to various reasons. Give it power, however, and things can instantly get messy and even dangerous. It is as if the rational part of our brain completely shuts down while the primitive part takes over.
So what can you do when this happens to you?
Everyone gets angry irrespective of age, upbringing, or beliefs. Some people express their anger openly, while others keep it more or less to themselves.
The symptoms of anger are the same across all species: increased heart rate, sweating, muscle tensing, and heavy breathing.
Being angry is often viewed negatively, so why hasn’t evolution pruned it from our gene pool if anger is detrimental to our survival? The answer is that being angry has been a critical component of humans’ survival since time immemorial.
Yes, anger served a vital purpose back when humans were living among hunter-gatherer tribes. It helps to scare away invaders from stealing our hard-earned resources without which we would have starved and maybe even gone extinct as a species.
But what is purpose does anger serve in our modern society? And how does being angry all the time do you any good?
The answer is: it depends.
Anger in itself isn’t in any way good or bad. It’s what results from anger that determines the benefits or detriments that it can bring about.
It also helps to know why anger arises in the first place.
What Causes Anger?
There are many reasons why you get angry, but they tend to stem from one common factor: dissatisfaction.
Dissatisfaction can happen in both your personal and professional lives. You could be dissatisfied with your pay, your spouse, or even your clothes.
Most of our dissatisfactions tend to be trivial, but once in a while, things can get really heated when they do not go our way.
The question thus is not how to eliminate anger but rather how to approach anger when it appears.
How to Manage Your Anger
The first thing you need to know about managing anger is to realize that you are angry. This, however, is easier said than done in the heat of the moment, which is being mindful can be advantageous.
Here are some tips for dealing with anger.
1. Do the Countdown
Slowly count up to or down from a number of your choice. This will help divert your attention while allowing you some time to reassess the situation.
2. Take a Breather
Taking slow, deep breaths will slow your heart rate, calm your nerves, and clear your mind. You can do this silently or conspicuously.
3. Have Someone Around
Have someone around who can defuse the situation quickly and effectively without being caught up in it. It could be a third party or even the person whom you’re arguing with. This option is, unfortunately, not always available.
4. Go for a Walk
Engaging in physical activities can help quiet your nerves and reduce your anger. Take a walk, ride your bicycle, or hit a couple of golf balls are some examples.
5. Write it Down
Writing down your thoughts and feelings can act as a release valve since it makes your thoughts visible and thus easier to analyze. You may even discover your blind spots.
6. Call a Timeout
Give yourself a timeout of up to 24 hrs from the time of your anger flaring up before returning to the issue. This will not only allow calmer heads to prevail but also gives you time to consider different perspectives.
7. Establish Automated Reactions
Consciously create an automated response in your mind that triggers when anger is detected. For example, if anger comes up, your triggered reaction would be to smile. This takes time and deliberate effort to achieve, but the payoff will be worth it in the long term.