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.