Anger Management: How to Talk Yourself Down, Restore Calm, and Refocus
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We’ve all been there: exhausted and frustrated, you explode in a fit of rage as the children run circles around the house, the dog tracks muddy paw prints across the carpet, and your husband relaxes in front of the television, seemingly oblivious to it all…
Likewise, if you’re a mother and/or wife and you allow your anger to get the best of you when dealing with your children, your spouse, close family or friends, there’s a good chance that you are going to regret it later.
It may be the guilt of yelling at your kids when they really weren’t being all that awful, or the annoyance of your cousin bringing up your “Thanksgiving outburst” at future family gatherings, that is the unpleasant outcome.
Or maybe something upsetting has happened to you at work, and you’re left stuck, sitting alone in your anger, knowing that to voice your outrage over a problem or a particularly sensitive situation will have unwanted consequences…
Or it could be that you’re seething after working on a volunteer project where others have irresponsibly, and once again, dropped the ball and left you to fix someone else’s mess.
What if you’re in your workplace dealing with a customer who just doesn’t seem to want to agree on anything.
If you become frustrated or angry and aren’t able to effectively calm yourself down before having an outburst directed towards your customer, that’s not going to bode well or reflect positively on your job performance. No one wants that.
Whatever the case may be, learning how to manage your anger will help you tremendously, and make life much more pleasant for those around you.
Navigating any of the situations outlined above and combating the angry emotions that go along with them is no easy task, but life is filled with them, and so we have to learn to deal with them effectively.
The good news is that in the course of this blog post, we’ll outline a few simple steps that can help to make you feel a little less tumultuous and deal with your anger, and I will walk you through them.
Anger management is a subject we’ve all heard about, but maybe not implemented in our own lives, or at least not used as effectively as we could. In fact, at one time or other, you’ve probably used the term as a joke when someone around you flew off the handle over some small thing, saying, “Geez, I think you might need to do some anger management classes!”.
And however light-hearted that statement may seem, anger management is a necessary skill in our everyday interactions and relationships with others. Because you know, stuff happens.
The thing that some may fail to realize, is that you don’t actually have to take classes to practice anger management. There are things that you can do as an individual, from the comfort of your own home with a privacy that doesn’t extend past you, that can help your situation.
But before we jump right in, it’s important that we address one universal fact about anger: If you are unwilling or unable to uncover and understand the root of your anger, and learn how to handle it, you will continue to find yourself in the same, emotional, angering or rage-inducing situations again and again.
Sure, the anger management tips and techniques that you are about to learn will help you to deal with your anger and calm down in the moment, but afterwards you have to do the deeper work of discovering the source of your anger and addressing it so that you can avoid similar situations in the future. Does that make sense? Good.
One simple tool for helping to examine your anger is to (and yes, you’ve heard me say it before) keep a journal. Whether you already have a journal or you begin one especially to monitor, track and assess your emotions, journaling can help.
By writing down each time that you feel angry in a situation – what irritates you, what frustrates you, the things that make you uncomfortable – you will eventually be able to pick up on patterns in your thoughts, emotions and behavior, or cause and effect.
Through this, you will be able to identify and pinpoint specific reasons that cause you to be stressed or angry. And from there, you can determine what steps are necessary to eliminate that cause, whether it be changing your thoughts or perception of a situation, removing a situation from your life or spending less time with specific people, so that you won’t have that problem in the future.
There are plenty of ways to go about calming down. Here, we will focus on three easy ways to become cool, calm, and collected in a situation that triggers your upset emotions.
Keep in mind that every person is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. So, don’t get discouraged if one of these anger management tips doesn’t work for you. It is up to you to figure out which of these techniques best helps you with managing your anger issues.
Let’s keep on reading to learn all about it!
Ways to Control Your Anger, Calm Down and Refocus
Anger Management Technique #1: Talking Yourself Down
One thing you can do, when you feel a nasty bout of anger creeping up on you, is to talk yourself down. For most of us, allowing our anger to flow out of us completely unchecked will hold some especially unpleasant consequences.
Whether it’s acting on impulse and regretting that action later, or saying something we either didn’t mean or didn’t intend to reveal and are subsequently sorry for, neither of those are desired outcomes.
So, Talk to Yourself
It really can be that simple. You can come up with a basic mantra, such as “calm down” or “everything is okay” and repeat it to yourself (or think it to yourself if there are other people in the room and you don’t want to seem too crazy, though saying the words out loud tend to have a stronger impact).
Have a private conversation with yourself as if you’re talking to your best friend (because you are) and giving her your best, most thoughtful, highest advice in your situation.
What would you say to calm her? How do you bring her back from the edge? How would you help her to restore rational thought in the given situation? Talking to yourself as if you are speaking with another person helps to give you some distance from your situation, and (hopefully
) allows you to view your circumstances less emotionally, more objectively, less passionately and more rationally.
Anger Management Technique #2: Restore Your Calm
So, you’ve managed to bring yourself back from the edge. Congratulations! However, there is more to managing anger than simply cooling yourself off and retreating from the precipice. Now, you must restore calm, release your anxiety and bring down your level of stress
1. Get Loose
Think of this as a relaxation technique (because it is). The more relaxed you feel, the calmer you’ll be. Fortunately for us, a lot of relaxation methods work wonders for restoring calm.
It is in our human nature to clench up when we feel stress and anger. Check yourself. If your jaw feels tight or clenched, unclench it. Feel that your hands are loose at your sides, and that your shoulders are relaxed.
One exercise that allows a person to easily “loosen up” is a focused breathing exercise.
Just breathe in deep (it may help to close your eyes), and focus on how your body feels (i.e. are you tense, are your muscles tight, etc.). Hold your breath for four seconds or so, and release.
As you exhale, imagine your body loosening up. Do your best to drop your shoulders down and relax your neck and back, let your arms go. This simple exercise can be done absolutely anywhere, and doing so should help your body to feel more at ease.
A second way to restore calm is to…
2. Exchange Negative Thoughts for Positive Thoughts
This is an anger management technique that I have personally used, especially when I worked in retail. If I had a frustrating experience with a customer, or something happened and I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I wanted to go home, I would force myself to think in a more positive light.
For instance, I would mentally remind myself, “You wanted this job. You were so happy to get this job. This job pays your bills, allows you to have a full pantry, and is the reason you will be able to pay for your next vacation. You love your job and you’re blessed to have it.”
It really does work wonders, not to lie to yourself or exaggerate things, but to find the positives in life and focus on them, especially when things go wrong.
3. Distract Your Mind
Sometimes, the best thing that you can do to calm yourself after a bout of anger is to momentarily disengage yourself from your situation, especially if you are in a place that you cannot physically leave. In order to achieve this, however, you will have to find a way, that works for you, to distract your mind and attention.
This can be as simple as counting to ten (or if necessary to one hundred) silently and in your head, or as complex as thinking about yourself in a different place at a different time. Really, it is up to whatever works for you as an individual just to give yourself a few moments of escape.
4. Walk Away
Finally in terms of calming down from anger, if you are able to walk away from the situation that is causing your blood to boil, do it!
Leaving does not make you weak, and as stated before, may help to prevent you from saying or doing something in a fit of anger that you’ll live to regret.
There is no shame in turning away from the person or thing that is making you so upset, and giving yourself the opportunity to calm down and re-group.
Anger Management Technique #3: Refocus
A big portion of managing your anger is now under control. You have successfully diffused your anger and taken steps to calm down. Now comes the final step, and that is to refocus.
Let’s face it. This is the real world, and in the real world there are some things that we just can’t avoid. If the situation or task that was making you upset before is not one that you can abandon or leave undone, then you must learn to refocus your efforts and emotions. Jumping right back into the thing that made you angry in the first place won’t be easy, but it must be addressed in order to alter or change or better the situation.
Hold on to your calm. Now, instead of being set off again, you will have the confidence and ability to control your emotions.
Focus on what matters and put things into their proper perspective
Consider your situation and pinpoint what exactly is making you angry or upset, then ask yourself, “Will this matter in a week, in a month, in a year?” If so, then you’ll have to do the work of finding a remedy for the situation. But often the answer to that question is “no”, and as hard as that may be for us to accept, allowing yourself the opportunity to view the thing that you are angry about from a more objective and impartial perspective will help it to seem like a less detrimental thing.
Bring yourself to focus on what is truly important and really matters, and let go of the rest.
As unique as each person is, we all share a thing in common. No one wants to feel stressed out and angry.
Do your best to practice these anger management tips we’ve shared with you, both when you are feeling upset and when you are not. The more control that you gain over your own emotions, the more control you will be able to have over difficult situations and tasks, and the better you’ll be able to navigate your way successfully through them!
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Kimberly Clay is the founder and creative force behind What She Say. She’s a business professional, writer and editor who’s been creating and managing digital content for nearly twenty years. Her work is now focused in the areas of self-improvement and personal development, and she is passionate about helping other individuals, especially women, to find a path for living their best life.