10 Best Steps on Overcoming Anger
1. Recognising First Signs
Don’t do anything. Don’t act on the angry feeling. This is just an emotion. You can feel it without turning it into a behaviour.
Try to step back from this feeling and label it, seeing that it is, in fact, separate from you. Notice its strength and how it pushes you into action. Accept that it’s there. There’s nothing wrong with anger, it’s only a signal that you’re in pain. It’s only a problem when you act on it and you then hurt yourself or others.
3. Become an Observer
Don’t push the angry feeling away, but at the same time, don’t hold onto it. It comes like a wave, building, cresting and then slowly receding. Let it come and then let it go. Watch as it grows and diminishes as if you’re a scientist observing a phenomenon.
4. Keeping Things Small
Try not to amplify your anger; don’t dwell on the unfairness of the situation. Don’t review past failings of the individual and rehearse in your mind events leading up to your anger. Just notice and accept the feelings, watching as it gradually diminishes.
5. Managing your Body Language
Breathe out for longer than you breathe in and relax as you breathe out. This will calm you down effectively and help you think more clearly. Smile instead of frowning, this releases endorphins. Speak slowly rather than loudly, even go overboard on this, make your voice almost soothing. Relax your body as opposed to tightening up.
6. Controlled Expression
As soon as you’re thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but non-confrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.
7. Language of Control
To avoid criticising or placing blame, which will only increase tension, use ‘I’ statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, “I’m upset that you discussed the issue with Tom before consulting with me.” Try to avoid phrases that include: always, never, should or shouldn’t, must or mustn’t, ought or oughtn’t.
8. Approaches to the Circumstances
Rather than go in for the attack, why not try disengaging; look away, walk away. Make no comment about the provoking situation. Save it for another time maybe, now will only blow the issue up further. Or, try empathising rather than judging; be mildly supportive, “I can see you’re concerned and upset…” It may sound a little phoney, but better than alternatively wanting to hit them over the head with a plank.
9. Use of Humour
Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Use humour to help you face what’s making you angry and to let go of any unrealistic expectations you have for how things should go. Avoid sarcasm though, it can hurt feelings and make things worse.
10. Practise Relaxation Skills
When your anger flares, you can put your relaxation skills to work. This is the time to practise deep breathing exercises or to turn on a pre-prepared imaginary relaxing scene in the mind… An example of such a scene could sound like the following:
I see myself peacefully walking along the seashore. Above there is a soft, hazy orange sun, set high in a clear blue sky. I stroll on the soft, yellow sands by the lapping water’s edge. Looking out to the calm, still ocean, mirrored still and clear, my thoughts are drawn into the unlimited vastness of that serene tranquillity and I feel at peace, in harmony, at one with all.
Excerpt taken from ‘How to Relax Your Mind – The 10 Best Ways’, by Jim Ryan and Simon Ralph