Anger has so many negative mental health implications, not to mention societal ones like domestic violence, road rage, job termination and the like. Anger has gotten a bad rap, especially with men. Men are afraid of their anger, and they often tell me that they’re “not an angry person.” Identifying ourselves as angry people – instead of people who get angry – is certainly a difference.
We’ll take a quick look at 7 simple anger management techniques to help you out when your anger feels out of control to you. Practice these with regularity, and you’ll be able to quiet down the anger that might otherwise lead to into some otherwise sticky situations.
1. Walk away from a situation that inspires your anger. It may be helpful to communicate to a person that is inspiring your anger (e.g. your wife or girlfriend) that you need a few minutes away from the situation. But, make sure and come back to the problem to resolve it diplomatically: too often, men walk away from conflict and fail to go back to resolve it.
2. Reset with your breath. You know, that active life force right under your nose that you overlook during the day. Focus on your breath for ten deep breaths, or two minutes, whichever comes first. You can anchor yourself and reset in the present moment with attention to conscious breathing.
3. Say “I’m angry.” Say it to yourself, or say it to someone else.
4. Ask yourself: “What would be the implications to me in this moment if I acted on this anger?” Even if I want to rage out or thrown or hit something or someone, what would that get me? How would that work for me? Think about how a destructive impulse leads to the behavior, and think about the consequences for yourself, or someone else you care about, like a child or employer you are interacting with.
5. The Lifesaver Technique: I learned this last week from the anger expert W. Doyle Gentry, Ph.D, in a training I took. He says that the next time you find yourself angry, suck on a lifesaver until it’s all gone before you respond in anger. You buy some time to respond, as well as take advantage of the sucking reflex to achieve a state of calm. You’re also consuming something sweet, which the brain likes as something pleasurable.
6. Don’t criticize, judge, manipulate or say that someone “always” or “never” does something. Refer back to tip #3 to help yourself.
7. Stay with the felt sense of anger as it arises in your body. Usually we get angry with our heads, but if you can pull back and attend to the anger rising in your body – sometimes in your heart or stomach region – you’re disconnecting from the reactive anger response and training yourself to look at other, less obvious sources of anger.
Use these tips frequently for best results, and you’ll be a anger management pro in no time. Make a conscious effort to turn around your relationship with anger, and you’ll see your other relationships start to change for the better.