Anger serves an important purpose, but it must be managed. When we’re angry, we may say things we
later regret. Or we may not advocate for our needs by speaking up if something is bothering us. If either scenario fits for you, here are some ways to keep things in balance when it comes to anger:
- Get to know your personal anger signals. Maybe you internalized the idea that anger of any intensity should be avoided. Or maybe you can be a little too free with expressions of anger. Your body can give you helpful information in either case. The physical signs of anger (like a quicker pulse, flushed cheeks, or tight chest) can cue you that you’re feeling anger when it’s at its earliest and most manageable intensity. (Mindfulness can be very helpful with this.)
- Instead of trying to talk yourself out being angry, slow down and put your attention on your body. If we notice that we’re angry, often we may try talking ourselves out of it. This comes from a noble intention. What we do with anger can be damaging. But the anger itself isn’t wrong. It’s just a feeling. And anger is more of a physiological experience, than a logical one. Soothing the body is often far more effective than logic in calming the agitation that anger can bring.
- Turn inward and give yourself compassion for 10-15 seconds. Once your attention is fixed on the body (instead of thoughts and “figuring it out”), imagine sinking into your body a bit more. Notice as many of the sensations of breathing as you can. Try to feel compassion and kindness for yourself, as you would for a loved one who is hurting. If judgment comes up in thoughts about yourself or others, just observe those thoughts, imagine them passing by you, and refocus on 6-7 deep breaths.
- Ask the important questions. After you’ve given yourself those soothing deeper breaths, then re-engage thinking and ask the important questions:
1. What do I need?
2. What’s within my own power to meet that need? (e.g. What action can I take? What choice do I need to make?)
3. What support do I need from others?
- Use those answers to meet your need. Take action. Use your power to do your part in meeting your need.
-Ask for a time out in a conversation.
-Say something kind and encouraging to yourself.
-Be an overseer and protector of yourself.
-Remove yourself from a situation.
-Remind yourself that you deserve care and compassion.
-Treat yourself to something that will feed your soul.
-Get some rest.
-Go outside and enjoy the fresh air
-Call a friend.
-Make efforts to connect with more friends.
-Ask a loved one for a hug.
If you find yourself getting irritated more frequently, chances are your bucket is getting empty. The above options can help you start to fill it up again. And don’t forget the other options for support if those aren’t adequate. Professional counseling is also a resource if you need more support in managing your feelings of anger.
Jessica is a psychotherapist, relationship and addiction expert, and creator of The Visible Self ® and VisibleU™ system. Over the last 17 years she has helped hundreds of busy adults create healthier habits and more satisfying relationships.
Jessica received her Master’s in Applied Psychology from New York University, and completed mediation training at the Columbia University School of Law. She has held numerous clinical roles, managed clinical operations for a national EAP, and advised executives on employee-relations concerns at Fortune 1000 companies. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband and a master instructor of mindful living …their Border Collie/Pointer-mix “Abby”.