Practical Steps for Managing your Anger
We get angry all the time - whether someone cuts us in line at the supermarket, our Internet is connection is being unstable for whatever reason, or a person you live with is nagging you about forgetting to do the dishes, there’s always something to get you irritated and, in more severe instances, angry. Feeling this negative emotion is an inescapable part of life, much like feeling cold in the winter and hot in the summer. In other words, it’s natural to get angry every now and then, but the problem is when you start allowing your anger to take over you and force you to say and do things you may later regret.
Addressing your anger-related issue
We’ve all been there at a certain point - we’ve lashed out for something miniscule at a close person, only to subsequently regret our lack of self-control once the damage to our relationship with that person has already been done. In cases like this, the key word is “self-control”, as its presence or absence is what determines whether our anger will be allowed to get us into trouble and make our lives tougher.
But then what is the key towards cultivating self-control? Well, there are different ways to approach this problem, and they can all be helpful, but also they all require no small amounts of willpower, discipline, and readiness to look inwards and accept yourself with both your good and bad qualities. In other words, developing self-control is not an easy task, which is why I believe that we can at least try to make it a bit more manageable by simplifying the process as much as possible. Case in point, there are many easy-to-apply techniques that can literally rewire your mind to remain in a calmer, more relaxed state when faced with an outside stimulus capable of inducing anger.
Obviously, don’t expect any miracles or shortcuts towards dealing with all your anger problems. As I said, time and effort are required for any anger-management approach or technique to work. However, if you are consistent and put in the necessary work, I promise you that you will see an overall improvement of your self-control as well as decreased susceptibility to getting easily aggravated.
Maybe because we breathe all the time, we don’t realize the true power and potential behind being mindful of each breath you take and using this as a tool to help you calm down, relax, and become present to the moment. There are hundreds of useful breathing techniques and exercises that can help with managing not only anger but also other negative emotions and states such as anxiety and panic. I will now tell you about two very popular and widely-used techniques that you can get started with.
The 4-2-4 method
Again, as I said earlier, it’s best to keep it simple, especially if you are just starting out. One of the most basic, but also most effective, techniques you can use is the so-called 4-2-4 breathing exercise. The goal here is to take a deep breath for about four seconds, expanding your chest and belly, then hold your breath for one or two seconds, and exhale for another four. Wait for a couple of seconds before you breathe in again, and then repeat that sequence.
You should practice this technique at least two or three times a day for several minutes to get familiar with it, and then try to replicate the technique for at least 30 seconds whenever something happens that can make you angry. The goal here is to give yourself some time before you react to the angering stimulus, all the while allowing your brain to fill with oxygen and your heart rate and blood pressure to go down. The end result is that you will be approaching the issue with a clearer mind, and though your anger will likely still be there, you’ll have much better control of yourself and have the ability to act rationally, rather than emotionally.
Focus on your breath
This is another very simple exercise that can help calm down your nerves and make you less irritable and sensitive towards external stimuli. What you must do is devote at least 10 minutes each day to go into a quiet room, where you can be alone and won’t be disturbed. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and try to focus on your breath. This is a form of meditation and the goal is to clear your mind of any thoughts, so that the only thing left is the internal observation of your breathing.
This exercise is actually quite difficult to do, so don’t worry if you are having difficulties with it. As soon as you begin, your mind will start getting barraged with all kinds of thoughts, especially if you’ve had a busy day. However, always try to return to the one thing you need to be focusing on - the process of inhaling and exhaling.
For this exercise, I’d advise that you do not lean your back against anything while sitting, because you may start feeling sleepy, and this will make the entire thing even more difficult. Again, simply try to get through the entire 10 minutes and make an effort to clean your thoughts, as it’s the effort that counts here.
You need to learn
Access to high-quality information on the topic of anger management is just as important (if not more) as having discipline and putting in the necessary work. There are many helpful resources you can find scattered across the Internet, but it can be very time-consuming to separate the information that’s actually helpful from the one that won't get you anywhere. That is why it’s always a good idea to take up a professional online anger management class that will guide you through the entire process and teach you about the exact techniques, exercises, and tools that you’ll need in order to cultivate your self-control and become more resilient against angering stimuli.
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