Anger Management: Sure-Fire Tips on How to Keep Your Cool ALWAYS!

(Last Updated On: April 23, 2017)

ANGER is just a letter short of DANGER.

I think you will agree with me.

Anger issues are dangerous if not controlled and managed.

What is Anger?

According to Charles Spielberger, Ph.D., a psychologist who specializes in the study of anger, “Anger is an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage.”

Anger itself is normal. It is a part of the fact that we have emotions – we feel and perceive things. It is a typical reaction when someone blocked our goals or someone make you feel threatened.

What is anger management? Is controlling anger needed?

Anger is a normal feeling – it is natural and purely human.

And “feelings” alone can’t hurt other people, but your behaviour resulting to that feeling.

The trouble arises when this anger goes out of control like a wildfire. Like a wildfire, you can harm those people and things that surround you very easily if you let anger spread. If you can’t control anger, you can damage your own reputation, get problems in the workplace and affect existing relationships with people. Anger also imposes health risks to us. It can increase the risk of a heart disease, invite depression and slow down the body’s healing process.

danger of anger

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Of course, don’t take that image above too seriously! This is where anger management comes in: the time when anger harms you and others.

See: Think Your Anger Management is Too Bad? Take This Quiz

The Anger Management Tips and Techniques

There are a lot of reasons why people get angry.

And you can’t stop them from getting at you.

But you can manage and control the anger they bring.

Teens and adults may always experience traffic jams, problems or killer deadlines.

Kids struggling to manage with anger are also common. Children are not allowed to do anything they want. Parents impose barriers and limited actions for their children because they are little, young and vulnerable to certain accidents. These things can bring unlikeable behaviors to your children and one of them is anger.

Therefore, persons of all ages need to learn how to manage anger.

But how?

There are three main approaches to dealing with anger which are:

  • expressing
  • suppressing, and
  • calming

These anger management techniques and strategies can be used in conjunction with each other to help you manage and control your anger. Let’s talk about them one by one.

 Expressing 

Here’s a golden rule: Always express anger in a healthy way.

Here’s how:

1. Express anger constructively, not destructively.

You should express anger constructively in a way that’s actually helpful for you and the other party involved. If arguments get worse, maybe you are seen with hints of unhealthy expressions of anger. Things such as:

  • Aggressive actions like hitting, yelling and throwing things to others
  • Foul words
  • The desire to avenge
  • Sarcasm
  • Avoiding communication

Mentioned above are just a few of the signs that you are expressing your anger destructively.

In order to express anger constructively, you should be direct and clear and just simply say “Look, I’m very angry about what happened.”

Graham Stoney of ConfidentMan.net particularly talks about this in his YouTube video.

Graham says that when you already expressed your anger verbally by saying “I’m angry”, it is now the time to look for what’s really driving your anger.

Many don’t know but anger is a secondary emotion. What it means is that there is a primary emotion, like disappointment and sadness that is really driving and fueling your anger.  What really roots your anger? It is an important step to expressing anger constructively.

Find what’s really underneath that anger, make it a starting point and work from it. So instead of just saying “I’m angry we don’t have our research paper yet” it will be more constructive to say something like “I feel really angry because I’m really counting on you.”

2. Express without acting out: Use assertive or reflective expression

Anger can also be expressed assertively or reflectively.

In assertive expression, the angry person states their feelings, is clear and direct on the behavior that caused the problem, don’t bring up past mistakes of the other person, and doesn’t blame the other party.

Contrast these two statements. Which do you think is a healthy kind of expressing anger?

  1. How many times do I have to tell you to keep our bookshelves organized? Why are you so worthless?”
  2. “Look, I’m really frustrated that you can’t keep the bookshelves organized as you promised.  I would appreciate if you could comply to what we discussed. Do you understand?”

The first one uses “blame statements” – the kind of expression that you may want to avoid because it is often perceived as an “attack” to one’s behavior, in this case, being worthless.

In contrast, the second statement is what we call the assertive expression of anger. The person sites his feelings (frustrated), clear and direct on the behavior (can’t keep the shelves organized ), and doesn’t blame the other one to protect each other from any unhealthy form of interactions.

Assertive expression of anger also uses “I-Messages” to state your feelings in a healthy way while respecting the other person’s perspective. Using I-Messages, you provide a great healthy tool for you and the other party to exchange thoughts and ideas while still maintaining a stable connection.

To construct an I-Message, you have to describe:

  • The specific behavior that roots the problem.
  • How that behavior makes you feel.
  • The behavior’s impact on you.

Example: “When you are always late on our meeting, I really get annoyed because I have so much to discuss and I can’t start the meeting early without you.”

As you can see, the specific behavior (always late), how the behavior makes you feel (annoyed), behavior’s impact (can’t start the meeting) is described to the message you are trying to say.

On the other hand, the reflective expression is when the angry person steps back first and then reflects on his/her feelings. After that, he/she will decide whether it’s necessary to share that anger with the other person or not. Persons using this kind of expression process their thought and feelings internally first about how significant the situation is.

So in our previous example above, using the reflective expression of anger, the angry person may simply say I need some time to think about what you did. I’ll get back to you in a while.”

Expressing - Anger management for Children
  • Teach your kids to use emotion words such as angry, upset, mad, frustrated, agitated, furious, apprehensive, tense, nervous, anxious, irritated, furious, ticked off, irate to help them express their anger. Because of this, you allow your kids express their anger in another way (through words) instead of destructive actions.
  • Also, teach your children how to differentiate the different levels of anger, from “a little angry” to “very, very angry”. It will help them further expand their anger vocabulary.
  • Teach your kids that feelings have a name and ranges so that they will not immediately resort to kicking, hitting or yelling when anger comes in!

ALERT: Download this fun Anger Management Skill Cards for children from TherapistAid!

 Suppressing 

Sometimes anger can be avoided or reduce the likelihood of it happening. Here are some tips to prevent anger from actually happening.

1. Know if your anger is caused by internal or external factors or both. Can you then avoid them in the future?

Signs and causes of why people get angry:

Anger can be caused by internal and external factors.

External factors are those things, events or people that upset you. Examples are:

  1. Heavy traffic
  2. People talking and saying bad things behind your back
  3. Maltreated by others

Internal factors are the things that are happening inside you. Examples are:

  1. Negative emotions
  2. Lack of sleep
  3. Loneliness

To help you easily identify the situations that can trigger your anger, complete these statements:

  1. I become angry when I…
  2. I become angry when people…
  3. I become angry when faced with situations like…

Example:

xamples of anger triggers

Why is it important to know where anger comes from?

Now if you successfully identified the factors where your anger comes from, ask yourself if you can avoid them as soon as they show possibilities of occurrence. If you can, learning how to avoid the potential factors that triggers your anger in advance will help you work your way to avoiding or reducing these factor’s impact on you.

stop pissing me off

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2. Identify your personal anger warning signs! Can you cut it off before it takes over?

Another key to prevention of anger is to be able to identify its warning signs. As soon as these warning signs occur, can you prevent it from turning into a full rage?

To help you identify your personal anger signs, ask yourself “How do I know if I’m starting get angry?”

If you know your personal warning signs of anger, you will be more aware of yourself and will have the ability to cut it off before it becomes worse.

ALERT:  Download and print this Anger Warning Signs Worksheet by TherapistAid!

3. Exercise

A study presented at American College of Sports Medicine’s 57th Annual Meeting in Baltimore, shows that exercise can prevent an occurrence of angry mood in men.

Exercise can help a person manage stress which triggers anger. Doing regular exercise can boost your brain’s production of “feel-good” chemicals. The happy chemicals in our brain — Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphins and Oxytocin invites happiness. Being happy can lighten even the heaviest situations in your life which means more motivation and positivism.

These are how to prevent anger. Now let’s take a look at how to deal with anger effectively while you are on fire.

1. Humor and laughter is your best friend!

It is true that laughter is the best medicine – even on anger. Humor can be your best tool for controlling anger. Humor, if used correctly can help you on managing conflicts. It can kill tensions, lighten things up and smooth out, which in turn helps in solving disagreements. Laughter and humor can relieve you from stress and can always improve your mood.

But be careful..

Using humor to overcome anger is NOT:

  • Just “laughing off” your anger but instead using humor to face the problem constructively.
  • A sarcastic humor.

That’s no joke.

vacuum cleaner anger

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2. Forgive and Forget.

To whom are you angry? Can you just forgive and forget the things that made you angry? Make amends. Reconcile with the person you are angry with. Holding back forgiveness because of pride will not solve any problem, it will just worsen it. Grudges and negative feelings will swallow positivity  so learn how to forgive people who have wronged you. Nobody’s perfect!

Read: How to Forgive Someone When It’s Hard: 30 Tips to Let Go of Anger

3. Seek counseling or medical advice.

There are cases where anger is caused by health-related problems such as anxiety, thus seeking medical advice is recommended.

There are also anger management programs that involve counseling and working in a group that ranges from one day to a couple of months. Find what’s best for you.

4. Convert and Redirect

Managing anger can also be done by converting and redirecting it and that is to channel anger into a positive action or behavior.

Tips on how to convert and redirect anger into a more constructive action:

  • Make Anger your Ally. There are many reasons why anger can be your friend in establishing a new perspective on life – a stress-free and happier kind of life. Read: Making Anger Your Ally
  • Turn Anger into a positive energy. Anger can be a wasted energy if it doesn’t help you accomplish things. However, turning anger into a positive energy that will help you move forward is one of the best things that you can do with your anger. Here’s how:
  • Turn anger into creativity. Studies have shown that angry people tend to be very creative, though it decreases over time and don’t last for long but it sure gives a creative boost to a person who is experiencing anger. Do you like to paint? Maybe it’s an opportunity to paint an epic work of art when you are angry.
  • Turn anger into motivation. In ESPN’s article about Michael Jordan, he said something about when he didn’t even make the varsity in a high school basketball team.

“It was embarrassing not making that team. They posted the roster and it was there for a long, long time without my name on it. I remember being really mad, too, because there was a guy who made it that wasn’t as good as me.”

But Jordan turned that anger and embarrassment into motivation.

“Whenever I was working out and I got tired and figured I ought to stop, I’d close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it, and that usually got me going again.”

Make anger a driving force to do things better like Jordan. It will help you push through the things that you want to achieve. Are you angry about something? Use it as a motivation!

  • Turn anger into self-awareness. Anger can help you know yourself better. When someone or something is making you angry, it is a great opportunity to assess yourself. Examine what your personal values are and you will be more aware of yourself, your own personalities and traits. Now that you know more of yourself, you can use that as a tool to develop a better personality and become a better person. Angry? It is the best time to know yourself better.
  • Turn anger into Optimism. Optimus is the Latin word for optimism which means “best”. That’s how optimistic people approach life – they always look for the best in any situation. Their positive thinking and outlook on life can mean that they are the ones in charge of their own happiness. They expect things to turn out well and more good things can happen in the future. Surprisingly, anger can bring optimism.

In a study, it is found that happy and angry people consistently made optimistic judgments and choices. As it is written in their research:

angry people are optimistic

Channeling anger into optimism can benefit you in many ways. Not only will you conquer anger, but optimism is also good for your health. Another research has found that optimistic people are healthier and live longer than pessimists. Angry? Use it to develop optimism and dissolve negative thoughts!

  • Turn anger into focus and confidence. In an article Why Great Leaders Get Angry–and Show It, Jeff Haden says that anger creates focus and generates confidence. How?
    1. You tend to focus more on something you are angry about. All you can see it that source of anger and that kind of focus works wonders.
    2. A dose of anger can pump your adrenaline up – that makes you get up and get started.

Angry? Use it as a source of focus and confidence!

5. Time-Out

The historical concept of time-out was intended primarily for children as an aspect of child development. It is also called “social exclusion”.

According to Wikipedia:

The use of time-out as an acceptable therapeutic procedure that has gained wide acceptance in schools, clinics, and hospitals. The main purpose is to isolate or separate (hence social exclusion) the child for a short period of time, usually 5 to 15 minutes, in order to allow the child to calm down as well as to discourage inappropriate behavior.

Time-outs may be on a chair, step, corner, bedroom, or any other location where there are no distractions. The procedure has been recommended as a time for parents to separate feelings of anger from their child, replacing their misbehavior, and yelling with a calmer and more predictable approach.

But time-out is not just for children anymore, adults can also benefit from time-outs as a form of anger management.

Using time-out as an anger management strategy is pretty simple. To do it, once you feel like being angry, remove yourself physically from the situation that triggers your anger. BUT don’t just walk out in the middle of the argument, otherwise, you will make the problem worse! Tell the other person that you need a time-out.

Time-out can also prevent you from being abusive when anger is on, hence keeping others safe from what you can do. Here’s how to do it:

  • Momentary delay – Feels like you are becoming abusive? Take a pause. Examine what you are doing.
  • Time out – After taking a momentary delay, remove yourself physically from that situation. Remember: Don’t just walk out. Tell the other person that you need a time-out and you will back, otherwise things may get worse. Also make the time-out short, don’t be gone for hours!
  • Calm yourself down – Pretty straight-forward.
  • Return – It’s possible that the other person is still angry. When the situation heats up again, ask for another time-out and repeat the process.
  • Solve the problem – Is the matter needs urgent attention? Solve it now. If it’s not, negotiate the other person to talk about the argument in the next few days when both of you is calmer and regained fresh perspectives.
 Note: This is all about YOU, preventing yourself from being abusive. The other person can however, still be angry and not treat you well. 

6. Listen

As much as expressing anger, listening is also an excellent method of dealing with anger. Using active listening techniques for anger management can improve the way you communicate with others.

What is active listening?

From the term itself, active listening is nothing but listening actively. That’s it. What it means is that you are emphatically listening and responding well to the other person not just “hearing” it for the sake of hearing it.

These are the signs of active listening:

  • Smiling
  • Eye contact
  • Posture – Things like slightly leaning forward and slanting your head.
  • Mirroring – Mimicking the facial expressions and gestures of the speaker.

On the other hand, active listening means you will NOT:

  • Just listen silently – Interact with the other person.
  • Interrupt the speaker as he or she speaks.
  • Give advise unless the other person wants to accept and hear some suggestions from you.
  • Change the subject of the conversation.

Through active listening, you are able to avoid bad conclusions and you disallow yourself from overreacting. You are able to listen passionately, which keeps anger at bay.

Suppressing - Anger management for Children
  • Be a role model as a parent. Parents are the first teachers of our children. They learn from the actions they witness. As a parent, you should show them how anger is managed when you are experiencing it. Show them how you handle anger yourself and they will learn from you. Be a leader. Teach by example.
  • Teach them the rules and punishments. Some families can tolerate their kids raising their voices when one is angry, but some families just can’t. It is important to establish rules of what certain actions can result in consequences. SKIP the use of physical punishments, use time out instead.

 

 Calming 

Already boiling inside? Practice to calm yourself down and let the anger subside.

1. KEEP YOUR COOL KIT

Keep Your Cool Kit

The British Association of Anger Management (BAAM) shared this KEEP YOUR COOL KIT which consists of anger management activities, and some calming strategies that can be used whenever you lose your cool. Some calming strategies mentioned in the kit are:

  • Breathe in and count to 7 and count to 11 when breathing out.
  • Tap yourself and say “Hey, KEEP YOUR COOL”
  • Count backwards from 20 to 1
  • Go for a walk in an open space location.
  • Visualize a calm place (sea, mountains, forest) for 2 minutes.
  • Let go any expectations!

2. Just Breathe

The most common calming method when you are losing your cool is to simply breathe. It is a proven stress reliever. Learning some breathing techniques is also good like the Equal Breathing or “Sama Vritti Pranayama”:

how to do equal breathing

Check out other breathing exercises here: 6 Breathing Exercises to Relax in 10 Minutes or Less

3. Listen to music

Music works wonders. It can instantly calm us down. After a stressful day and you heard your favorite song playing, you begin to feel better. Don’t you?

study revealed that listening to “extreme” music calms and inspires its listener. “We found that music regulates sadness and enhances positive emotions,” Ms. Sharman, one of the researchers said.

The power of music to relax our minds and bodies is amazing. Check out these 19 Songs that Will Wash Away All Your Stress.

4. Go to something that makes you happy

What entertains you? What makes you happy? If watching cute cat videos on Youtube is something that makes your mood better, go watch some. Go ahead to whatever that makes you smile to ease your anger.

ALERT: Check out these 50 Anger Management Activities and Games!

Wrapping it Up

Managing anger is not easy but it’s one of the skills worth having. The goal of anger management is to reduce and better manage the effects driven by anger. You can’t always avoid or escape the things that put the rage on you but you can always learn how to manage it. Don’t let it go the other way around where anger controls you.


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