It is normal to have some days be more frustrating than others. We have all had the occasional snippy interaction with the barista who botches your coffee order or the cabbie who heard 97th St instead of 79th St (and doesn’t turn off the meter even though it was clearly HIS fault!) But if the above describes your daily experience out in the world, you might need to take a look in the mirror and figure out what is really going on.
The common denominator in your life is YOU. Whether it’s explosive bursts of rage or an underlying constant state of irritation, if you feel like your anger has more control over you than you have over it, you may have an anger management issue.
It takes a lot of energy to go through life constricted and ready to lash out. Having a quick temper or being in a chronic state of irritation is not only bad for your health, it is bad for your relationships. When someone has a ‘temper’ the people in their life are always trying not to ‘set them off’ which really means not being authentic, living in fear and needing to manage the person with the anger problem. Anger is a normal and necessary part of having a full emotional life. The key is learning how to manage anger and mine it for gems of self-knowledge that it provides. I have compiled a list of simple techniques you can use to get the upper hand on your anger. These suggestions are not just for you to use seconds before you feel like you may explode. In fact, the more you incorporate them into your day-to-day routine, the less irritated and exasperated you will feel.
Technique #1 is to Breathe.
Begin by taking a deep breath in through your nose, filling your lungs, holding the breath for a couple seconds and then exhaling through your mouth. Imagine with each exhalation that you are letting go of anger, resentment and frustration. With each inhalation envision breathing in calm, peaceful energy. Do this for at least one minute. By practicing conscious breathing you slow down your heart rate (which often speeds up when you are angry) and bring your attention to the here and now. In this exact moment the past is over. You get to choose how you respond and your next steps.
Technique # 2 is to Meditate
Sitting still and getting silent slows the heart rate while quieting the body and the mind. It puts you at peace and helps you separate yourself from your thoughts. When you have space between your thoughts you allow yourself time (even if it is just a second) to respond rather than react. Meditation is a proactive way to build more awareness, decrease mind chatter and amp up mental strength.
For best results I suggest meditating daily.
Technique #3 is to Seek Professional Advice.
If you are tired of apologizing for your angry outbursts or losing relationships because of your temper then it might be time to find resources or seek therapy. I like the work of Dr. John Schinereer who uses positive psychology to help people channel their anger into more productive behaviors. You can also seek help with a therapist in your area who specializes in anger management or check out support groups or a 12-Step program for anger. Don’t let anger diminish your potential or destroy your relationships. Knowing when you need help and getting it might be the most important step you ever take to transforming your life.
Now I’d like to hear from you. Have you suffered from challenges with anger management—or has someone you love? If so, what techniques have you found worked best? Remember, anger is not a bad emotion and you are not bad or wrong for feeling it. As always, I wrote this post to inspire you to heal from what may be holding you back from a life full of happiness, ease and freedom.
Managing your emotions is one more way that you can, as always, take care of you.
Love Love Love
*image courtesy of Tarik Browne