Anger is a natural emotion yet I observe so many people trying to hide and suppress this emotion. It really is okay to feel anger but it’s what you DO about that emotion that is crucial.
Here are a few tips on how to manage uncontrollable anger. An anger management strategy can make all the difference:
1) Remove yourself from the situation
When we are angry we are not thinking reasonably. We may lash out or say something that we later regret. The best way to avoid this happening is to, if at all possible, remove yourself from the situation. Go to another room, go outside, turn away. Whatever you do, don’t continue to engage when you are angry. I once saw a client when I was working for the Probation Service and he told me that if his wife was antagonising him, she deserved a smack in the face. He condoned physical violence if he thought she was provoking him. He seemed absolutely stunned when I asked him to consider the fact that he was still responsible for his reaction to her. Amazingly, he had never thought to walk away. Up to that point he had blamed her for his reaction and had not taken responsibility for his own behaviour.
2) Express verbally that you are angry “I feel angry right now”
It’s completely acceptable to say to someone that you feel angry and then to walk away. Being angry is normal as I mentioned earlier. Saying something like “I am really angry with you so I am going to leave for 5/10/30…minutes until I feel calmer”. Job done!
3) Count backwards from 100
One way to calm down quickly is to remove yourself from the situation that has angered you and count backwards from 100. This distracts us and allows our anger levels to diminish. When we feel anger initially, the old part of our brain gets activated (as it would have done when there was danger in the historic ages – seeing a lion for example)…when we take some time out, we allow the newer, frontal lobe of our brain to engage and add some reason to the situation.
4) Use relaxation techniques
Deep breathing is very useful when anger is out of control. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Slow steady breathing recalibrates the body.
5) Revisit the situation when calm
It’s important to tackle the original trigger for the anger and try to find solutions to avoid it happening again. Revisiting the situation to talk about what happened and what the trigger was is a good way to help reduce the possibility of anger constantly recurring. Removing triggers where possible is ideal but if this isn’t possible or the request is unrealistic, try to find a way forward that meets everyone’s needs.
Anger is normal and the best way to handle anger is to channel it into assertiveness. There is a BIG difference between assertiveness (your needs and my needs are equally important) and aggression (my needs are more important than yours). Work towards a win-win situation.