Take charge of your health. Sign up for HealthyWomen newsletters:

Healthy Living

By Sheryl Kraft

Share on:

This week's post really got my mind going. I relived all the times I was angry. I thought about how I handled those situations. Let me first say that I detest getting angry. It scares me, actually. It's one of those negative emotions that just feels so bad – although I must admit that it sometimes feels so good to get it out.

I thought about how I could have been calmer, more focused. How I overreacted to some situations. Things I should have said and things that would have been better off unsaid. Sure, Monday morning quarterbacking comes in handy sometimes; but hopefully we all learn from our experiences so that those dreadful Monday mornings will never have to bully us again.

Many times, I deny my anger, telling myself I don’t want to put my body through the stress of facing the feelings or risking a sleepless night. But that's not always the best way to deal with it. And so, my reflection made me realize that I could do a lot better in the anger management department. What I KNOW and what I DO do not always see eye-to-eye. In my attempt to remind myself and perhaps help others who may feel as helpless as I sometimes do in the face of anger, here are some thoughts.

  • Acknowledge your anger. Instead of wearing down your tooth’s enamel and risking TMJ at the same time, admit it. There’s nothing wrong with anger, after all, so don’t try to hide it. Admitting it can be freeing, in fact.
  • Step away. Wait and mull it over. Usually the initial reaction is the strongest. Sometimes it's not the clearest, and you need distance and time to sort out your true emotions.
  • Ask for what you want. Let's say you are returning a damaged item to a store and the store clerk tells you she’ll get you another one but has to locate it in another branch. You don’t want to wait. Instead of silently simmering and feeling powerless, just ask for what you want. "That’s not what I want. I want a full refund." Trust me, it works. I’ve done it. (now she's the one who is angry…but too bad, I say.)
  • Go for a change of scene. Go to your favorite place. It could be a bathtub, the park, the mall, the gym. One of mine? The beach. I just can’t be angry at a place that evokes so much tranquility, wonderful childhood memories and utter calm. The minute my feet touch down on the sand, all is right with the world. (At least, well, while I’m there. But it does help soothe any negative feelings for sure.)
  • Write it down. Sometimes it helps to get it out without actually having to come out and say it. That can often be enough to ease your feelings. At the very least, it can stall you and give you time to reflect.
  • Alter your expectations. If you expect the other person to respond well to your anger- even if you pull it off with finesse– you might be in for a surprise. There are a lot of people who shy away, interpret anger as criticism or get deeply hurt.
  • Play the perspective game. Asking yourself something like, “Is this really important in the scheme of things?” or, “Will this matter an hour (or week, month or year) from now?” can often melt away the anger that surfaces when the idiot in the car in the next lane cuts you off or when the hotel cleaning service forgets to leave you extra towels.

 

This Matters> Like oil and water, anger and impulsiveness rarely mix.

You might also like to read tips from the American Psychological Association on dealing with anger.

Subscribe to Midlife Matters by Email

Comments

I find that, with age, I am more able to "play the perspective game" than when I was younger. Interesting post. Lots to think about. Thanks.

I agree, Alexandra. Age does have its advantages...it goes a long way toward helping us figure things out- and figuring them out usually helps dispel anger, doesn't it?

I really think brooding and stewing about something kills you in one way or another. Speak up, write about it, handle it -- but don't keep it to yourself.

I agree, Ruth. Today I got it out on the rowing machine at the gym! Much better than keeping it all inside.

I've found that I'm less likely to get angry if I'm taking care of me--relaxing, sleeping enough, meeting my own needs, etc. I'm a lot more likely to get angry when there's already some resentment there--because I'm not meeting my own needs.

When you are relaxed, I think you have much, much better coping mechanisms to deal with negative feelings. So, sleep, relax and meet your own needs - I'm in favor of all three!

It helps me to hit the heavy bag or scream into a pillow. Sometimes you can't step away until you've let off some steam...

When my kids were little, I bought them something called "Slam Man" which they could punch to their heart's content. There's something about hitting (no, not another person!)that is sooo good for letting off steam.

I agree with Alexandra...now that I'm older with less time on my hands and not enough sleep I blow a lot more off as unimportant or not worth my energy. It takes a lot to get me mad....or...the neighbor kid. He ticks me off everyday.

But yesterday Verizon told me to go to "any" of their stores to get a free new battery for my very expensive new phone that wasn't working. I went. He gave me the story that I needed to go to one of their corporate stores. So I walked out to my car, called customer service and said, " I'm not doing this...mail me a new battery. " and they did. Otherwise I'd have driven all day getting aggravated.

Doesn't that just feel sooo good to do something proactive like that, rather than stew and get all upset over an annoyance? Good move.

agree with Ruth that writing it out often helps (I'm sure many would second and third that, too) - although, as a retail monkey, I have to say that it's not very nice to transfer your anger to the poor gal at the register! We're beholden to company policy too, you know!

Oh, no. I didn't lash out at her for nothing. She was VERY nasty to me, and totally unwilling to do anything, so all I did was offer her some alternatives to a situation she was not interested in helping with. (Please don't think I'm mean :)

So that's what all that tooth grinding and gum recession is about? I thought it might be caused by anxiety -- or even physical pain -- didn't realize I could add anger to the mix of things that can mess with your mouth. Makes sense though.

I find that i get angry alot of time in my house when I cant open something.. when things drop.. so when that happens, I let out a big scream. Hopefully the neighbors didnt hear it! It lets out all my anger and i feel so much better for it.

Add new comment