Everybody gets angry, whether it’s the friendliest person we know, or our favorite personal development teacher. The difference between those people and those who need anger management therapy is simply a matter of how they deal with anger.
First off, anger itself is not a bad thing, contrary to popular belief. One of the great things about it is that it often fires us up to do something about whatever it is that is bothering us. How many activists have you seen do their job in a good mood? I’ve rarely even seen people protest against violence without looking pissed off. When we allow our anger to cloud our judgement and we end up doing stupid things, then it’s bad to be angry.
That being said, I have several methods of handling anger. One of these methods can also be used to stop negative self-talk and sadness. The other two involve facing your anger without doing something that you may regret.
1. Thank You For Sharing
A few years ago, I was talking to a business coach. He told me that the mind sometimes acts like a wild monkey, and we have to tame it in order to prevent it from wreaking havoc in the form of negative inner talk and self-sabotage. The conversation gave me an idea for an affirmation to say when I got angry.
The affirmation was “Thank you for sharing, monkey. Now go back to your cage.”
It was effective from the moment I started using it. There were times when my mind would begin wandering to a negative thought, and I would say the affirmation, and forget what I was thinking. I even went an entire week without getting angry at a time when I wasn’t as calm and cheerful as I am now. It was actually a borderline miracle at the time.
2. Write It Out
Grab a sheet of paper and write down everything you’d like to say to the person who wronged you. Everything from your side of the story, to the flaws of their argument, to whatever names you want to call them. Hold nothing back because the more you get off your chest, the better you’ll feel.
After writing everything you need to say, crumble up the paper and throw it in the garbage. This step is a symbol of letting out all of your anger and moving on.
One of the great things about writing is that it gives you time to think things over and articulate all of your thoughts in a sensible way. I’m sure you’ve seen at least one person go off for 5 minutes straight, leave, and return a few minutes later yelling “And another thing…!” This method will help you avoid being that person.
3. Blurt it Out
Another version of the above is to verbalize your anger. Pretend that the person is sitting/standing there quietly, and you’re talking to them in person. Same rules apply: explain, argue, curse, whatever you want. If you’d like, you can pick up your phone and act like you’re talking to them over the phone. I prefer using the phone because it makes the conversation more believable to me.
I find the third method to be the most effective. Letting my anger out through words tends to lift a lot of weight off my shoulders. 90% of the time, when I’m done, I’m no longer angry simply because I said all that needed to be said. Funny thing is, I found this out while attempting to leave a voicemail and having to re-record it several times because I kept messing up.
Everybody knows that if you keep your anger to yourself, it will simply build to an unhealthy boiling point. Some people get angry and make mistakes that feel great in the moment, such as lashing out in a violent way, only for that reaction to backfire on them. Developing coping skills for anger establishes a safe middle ground that keeps you out of trouble.
Make a nice day!