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How to Keep Your Temper Under Control

Couple reconciling on the couch while therapist watches

When you’re stressed or hurried it’s easy to let your temper flare. That’s what happens to toddlers when they have a meltdown in the grocery store. But now that you’re much older, meltdowns are not acceptable. One remedy is the same one you use with toddlers—a time out. Give yourself a little break so you can regroup, hopefully before you explode.

There are plenty of tricks you can use that emotionally mature people—often automatically—employ to keep their tempers in check. Here are some ideas:

 

 

  1. Think ahead. Think before you open you mouth, before you go to a social gathering, before you do anything impetuous. Think. Learn the habit of thinking before you speak. It takes some discipline but with practice you can do it. Of course, the madder you are the more difficult it is to count to five or ten before you say something. So start practicing while you’re feeling fine and calm. Then when you feel the anger rising you’ll be used to controlling what you say.
  2. Workout. Exercise is such a good thing to do that it even helps with your temper. Physical activity will help reduce your stress, which will help keep your anger at bay. You don’t actually have to do a rigorous workout unless that’s your desire. A simple walk outside will do wonders. Choose an exercise you like that’s easy to do when you feel your temper escalating. And learn to be mindful enough to recognize when that escalation begins. Better yet, learn to anticipate when it might begin.
  3. Find solutions. Instead of fomenting about what made you angry—playing that tape over and over in your head about what a total a**hole that driver in front of you is—think about how you can drive defensively to remain safe on the road. Or if your child’s room is a disgraceful mess, close the door. Out of sight is out of mind. Try to figure out what makes you repeatedly mad and craft a plan to make it happen less in the future. Because getting angry will do nothing toward finding a solution.
  4. Make a joke. It’s amazing how a little light heartedness will diffuse a situation. If you can find humor in your situation your anger will dissipate almost like magic. The trick is to get off the anger track and focus on the humor of the situation. This is a good strategy whether you’re just telling yourself something amusing or whether you’re engaged with someone else. Steer clear of sarcasm, though. It’s a recipe for making things worse.
  5. Let it go. This is easier said than done, but you can do it with practice. Have you ever noticed times when you think you’ve moved on, but then you retell your angry situation and the anger boils up again as if the event just happened? You are probably holding a grudge that is better left banished forever. Even better, try forgiving your transgressor if you can. There is no point to holding on to negativity. It will only raise your blood pressure and lower your emotional I.Q.

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

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