You know the feeling. Your emotions overwhelm you. Your brain is flooded. Your nerves and networks in your brain are rapid firing without your consent. You feel the heat rising. You’re angry. It happens to the best of us.
There are tactics you can use to mitigate your anger in the moment—deep breathing, going for a run, doing yoga. But it’s important to remember that anger is often an emotion that covers for a deeper, more vulnerable feeling like embarrassment, shame, helplessness or hopelessness.
It’s worth it to try to get to the root of your anger so you can understand why you’re upset and then you can make a change for the better. That may be a change in your spouse, who doesn’t realize she triggers your anger when she constantly interrupts you. Or, that may be a change in your own behavior when you realize your anger is masking your feelings of insecurity.
Here are some ideas for managing anger:
Take time out to reflect. Sometimes you’re so angry you can’t think straight. So deliberately slow your brain down until you feel like a logical human being again. Then ask yourself if you may have misinterpreted what your partner said or maybe you’ve blown something out of proportion. Your friend probably did not purposely try to make you angry. He may have done what he did in total innocence. He might have been thoughtless, but probably not diabolical. When you’ve had time to think about what made you so mad, chances are you’ll calm down.
Get out of the situation. Walk away. Go to the bathroom. Step outside. Just get away before you can make an angry retort that you can’t take back and that you’ll regret someday. This gives you a chance to form a response that’s far more likely to be well thought-out than one that’s shot from the hip. It takes you out of a dangerous situation where you could well do harm to a relationship that’s irrevocable. You’ll feel safer and therefore better when you step away. If your partner wants to know where you’re going, just say you have to be alone for a bit to gather your thoughts.
Address the problem calmly. You’ve put up with your partner being late to every single dinner, meeting, coffee date you’ve ever had. You’ve never complained, but really, every time he does it you get madder and madder. But you never confront him because you don’t want to spoil the moment. And you’re afraid your anger will explode and make the whole thing worse. But it’s important to address it, so think ahead. Think what you’ll say the next inevitable time he comes late. Tell him how it really makes you feel—tell him the emotions beneath your anger. You feel he doesn’t have enough respect for you to come on time. That you’re not important enough to him to make an effort. That you understand traffic is bad sometimes, but not ALL the time. Tell him, because if he doesn’t know how you feel, he can’t change his behavior.
Just breathe. Mindfulness breathing can get you through that hot fury moment until your rage subsides. Then you can decide how to change your situation so anger doesn’t hold you hostage. You can learn to be less angry and more emotionally healthy. Often counseling can help.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact