Turn your anger into an asset with these 5 anger management techniques
When malleable, anger can be an excellent ally. Use these anger management techniques to turn your anger into an asset instead of a liability.
I don't get angry often. Perhaps a couple of times a year. I may get irritated but not irate. Slightly moody but rarely mad. Day-to-day I exist in an even-keeled state — never too excitable.
But when I am provoked it's akin to a bull in a china shop. Though I'm not an astrology enthusiast, as an April-born there's something to be said about the feisty spirit of the Taurus who quickly snaps out of its docile state when a red flag is waved.
So, though it’s a rare occurrence I know a thing or two about harnessing anger and in this article I want to discuss how you can use your anger as an asset.
When someone disrespects you, violates your trust or pushes whatever trigger that gets you heated, you likely react in one of two extremes:
suppressed but intense rage that simmers deep inside of you
full fury, outright wrath or complete indignation
When you think about, there seems to be an all or none perception about anger that is quite unhealthy.
Many try to push it down out of fear that a display of anger is uncouth, while others explode (perhaps from too much suppression) and lose all control.
But there is a middle way. Anger is a legitimate feeling that has its proper place in your life like any other emotion.
It is impossible not to experience anger from time to time, so why not learn how to harness it as a powerful tool?
I developed this 5-step anger management process to help me steer, not tame, the bull.
Experimenting with it will also give you more control over your anger and help you direct it towards more desirable outcomes.
By leveraging these intense negative emotions you can ensure they don't become a liability and make them work in your favor.
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1. Don't ignore it
Trying to suppress your anger is ineffective, might backfire and, according to Harvard Health, can even be dangerous to your heart and overall health.
Sure, you may take the edge off in the moment but it's only temporary relief. Down the line those emotions have a tendency to build up and resurface when not thoroughly addressed.
So profess your anger and call it for what it is (whether or not the circumstances warrant it, you should not deny your feelings).
The simple act of owning how you feel means you are being realistic, and that's the best state of mind for moving through the rest of the anger management process.
2. Don't succumb to it
This is easier said than done which is why step one is so important. If you can't even recognize or accept the emotional state you are in, then you definitely won't be able to control impulse decisions, words, and actions.
After owning your feelings, find the least harmful way to vent.
Instead of writing that angry email and sending it, write it then save it to your draft folder. Instead of snapping on your partner to his or her face, go to a private room and unleash your wrath ... at the wall.
Again, don't suppress but vent in a way that won't do any damage (to yourself or others) until you can get back to a more rational state.
Release all that built up tension in a controlled environment. But don't downplay or forget what comes out of this bitch session. You'll need to revisit it in a later step.
3. Sleep on it
Now it's time to create some distance between you and the incident that spurred your outrage. Let some time past before you reopen the case and think about the best way to react.
Even for situations that can't be realistically revisited (like falling out with a stranger you'll never see again) it's still important to emotionally step away from the event and return to it later when you can think clearly.
After being emotionally disrupted you need time to get back to equilibrium. Everything from your heart rate and blood pressure to your thoughts are off kilter. If you aren't careful this could spill over into other areas of your life.
Don't allow one isolated situation to define your mood and determine the outcome of your day. Step away (once you acknowledge how you feel). Let it go for a sufficient period of time.
Use these tips from the The American Psychological Association if you find it difficult to calm down.
4. Reconsider it
It typically takes me a good night's sleep and a full 24 hours to be in the position to return to something that so thoroughly pissed me off — enough time to have almost forgotten about the situation.
But don't drop it now because you feel better, the bulk of your personal growth comes from this step. You'll not only more effectively address this particular situation, you'll learn from it and strengthen your ability to deal with future frustrations.
Go back to all your secret rants and raves in step three. Now consider, what actually needs to be said or done vs. what should be abandoned because it won't improve the outcomes for you or anyone else involved?
Ask yourself what needs to be communicated to the other party (if possible) regarding their offensive behavior, but also what wrong did you commit? What have you learned from all of this?
There's a lot of truth that bubbles out of us when we're in an agitated state. Find that truth then deliver it via constructive feedback to the offending party — but also to yourself.
5. React when ready
With a better handle on your emotions and a clear course of action you're almost ready to approach the individual, institution, or situation. But, don't feel compelled to rush into this.
You might still desire to sit on it for a bit longer. Or perhaps call a friend, your coach or therapist (if you have a history of anger issues) who can provide support as well as a more unbiased perspective.
Consider a few potential scenarios that may come out of your reaction (there's no guarantee it will work out exactly as you want). When you feel sufficiently empowered to handle these different scenarios, move forward.
No matter the result, it is sure to be better than what would have ensued if you allowed rage to cloud sound judgment.
The ancient philosopher Seneca would not necessarily agree with my approach. In his work De Ira (“On Anger”), he communicates a bias towards not allowing situations to get you upset in the first place.
I see his point, which is why I adopt principles of Stoicism so that, in most cases, I can refrain from falling into anger's trap.
However, there will always be situations that arise and throw you off guard. These are the situations that can do the most damage if you don't have a set of tools you can use to navigate out of tricky terrain.
So yes, avoid anger as best you can. But if one day you inevitably fall short, it doesn't mean you have to be a victim (or victimize someone else).
Knowing how to use anger as an asset will be your best defense and you'll come out stronger in the aftermath.
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