How to tame your temper
Anger is a natural human emotion that occurs as an emotional response to perceived threat, provocation, or hurt. It is usually directed towards people we may think have done us wrong. The cause of anger can be-
- Internal - where the anger may be a result of guilt, feelings of resentment and judgment, hurt, etc.
- External - mainly due to issues persistent in our environment like work stress, financial issues, poor social and familial situations etc
Anger is an important and healthy emotion in so far it lets an individual express his negative thoughts and motivates him to find probable solutions to a problem.
However sometimes we tend to lose our composure, lash out on people, and act irresponsibly, and when such a behavior is repeated, it starts affecting our relationships, personal as well as professional. We often resort to child-like behaviors like throwing tantrums, (Regression) or shouting on others, especially a close friend or a family member (Displacement).
These are common examples of faulty or poor anger management skills; like after having a rough day at work, one may come back home and crib about food, work load, the difficulties that one’s facing at work etc. One may brood for days and may not eat at all or refuse to eat. Similarly, parents after having a tiring day would snap at their children just because they were making a little noise.
Anger is equally or more destructive than it is constructive.
- It causes feelings of resentment among people and leads to several problems, like problems at work, in personal as well as professional relationships,
- Creates misunderstandings between two individuals
- Makes us feel worse than before and causes hurt and pain to ourselves and others
- And affects the overall quality of life of an individual
As Mark Twain said, “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured”. Therefore it is a responsibility of every individual to control and manage their anger.
It often helps when we identify the triggers of anger, and then resolve the problem through rational thinking and problem solving. There are several other techniques that can be applied to control anger.
- Breathing - As we experience the instantaneous and overwhelming feeling of anger, we feel tension in our muscles, our pulse and heartbeat quickens, blood circulation increases as our body gets ready for action. Deep breathing and relaxing oneself helps in loosening the tension in the body muscles and keeps us from reacting impulsively.
- Exercise - Although it is often advised to control your anger, but its more productive if the anger is channelized properly. Body workout or physical exertion helps relieve our body of stress and excess energy that builds up when we are angry.
- Distracting oneself – it is a temporary solution to anger issues as the emotions haven’t been dealt with when we try to distract ourselves, but it’s a great way of recovering from anger, like listening to music or watching a movie or getting some sleep.
- Change of surrounding - A stroll in the park among the trees can never help you better than when your thoughts are in a disarray. It allows your body to calm down and gives your mind enough privacy and space to think over things.
- Venting out - What better way of dealing with your anger than to talk it all out to your best friend or a member of the family? A patient and empathetic ear works wonders. By sharing the thoughts that are bothersome can actually release that burden off our chests and makes us see things in a clear and different perspective, just by listening to our own thoughts.
- Cold/hot water bath - When we our angry, our body naturally undergoes and experiences several changes. Owing to quickened heart and pulse rate and tension in our muscles, we often feel heat waves radiating off of our body. In such instances, a cold water bath helps our body calm down and relax as our body temperature decreases and stabilizes.
When it seems that an individual has calmed down enough that there are very less chances of acting out impulsively, then the next step would be communication and conflict resolution. It’s always best to communicate and talk it out whatever is bothering you. If there’s something you don’t like about a particular person around you, communicate it to them positively. It’s best to discuss things with the people who are the reason of conflict and your anger. There is always a possibility that due to miscommunication things do not get conveyed properly and result in misunderstanding. Hence, the need for resolving interpersonal issues and conflicts through communication is far greater than anything else.
However, anger is not always misplaced and can be a result of real, inescapable problem.In such situations these unfortunate and unforeseen events usually aren’t always in our control but we can control the way we respond and react to them. It does not take much to react impulsively and irrationally in anger, but it also doesn’t take much to take a step back, introspect or distract oneself to focus on ways to solve the problem.
"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way" - Viktor Frankl