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Managing Anger Effectively: Pressing the Pause Button

Angry fists on a table

Anger is not the problem; it is a normal, healthy emotional response to a real or perceived hurt or slight. It is how people handle the emotion of anger that becomes the problem. You cannot change the way anger makes you feel – but you can change how you respond to the feelings!

Physically, anger can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, cause headaches, indigestion, and sleep issues, and make it difficult for you to focus.

Chronic anger also has emotional manifestations that range from mild irritability, passive aggressive behavior, cynicism, and being hypercritical of others, to aggressive or violent behavior and even uncontrollable rage. No matter how you look at it, toxic anger can affect your mental and physical health and can ruin your relationships with those you value the most.

The single most effective way to manage anger is to press the pause button before responding.

Cognitive Restructuring

Simply put, this means changing the way you react by taking a “time out” before reacting.

When you’re angry, your thinking can get very exaggerated and overly dramatic. Instead of telling yourself, “oh, it’s awful, it’s terrible, everything’s ruined,” tell yourself, “it’s frustrating, and it’s understandable that I’m upset about it, but it’s not the end of the world and getting angry or losing your cool is not going to fix it anyhow.”

Problem Solving

There is also a cultural belief that every problem has a solution, and it adds to our frustration to find out that this isn’t always the case. The best attitude to bring to such a situation, then, is not to focus on finding the solution, but rather on how you handle and face the problem.

Better Communication

Angry people tend to jump to—and act on—conclusions, and some of those conclusions can be very inaccurate. The first thing to do if you’re in a heated discussion is slow down and think through your responses. Don’t say the first thing that comes into your head, but slow down and think carefully about what you want to say. At the same time, listen carefully to what the other person is saying and take your time before answering.

Changing Your Environment

Sometimes it’s our immediate surroundings that give us cause for irritation and fury. Problems and responsibilities can weigh on you and make you feel angry at the “trap” you seem to have fallen into and all the people and things that form that trap.  If you can’t physically remove yourself from the argument or dispute, make a conscious effort to practice somatic quieting before you say or do something you may later regret.

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