People experience anger in many different ways and for many different reasons. What makes you angry may only mildly irritate one of your colleagues, and have little to no effect on another. This subjectivity can make anger difficult to understand and deal with; it also highlights that the response is down to you. So anger management focuses on managing your response (rather than specific external factors). By learning to manage your anger, you can develop techniques to deal with and expel the negative response and emotions before it causes you serious stress, anxiety and discomfort.
Despite our differences in the level of anger we feel toward something, there are some universal causes of anger that include:
•Frustration of our goals.
•Personal attack (mental or physical) on ourselves.
•Threat to people, things or ideas that we hold dear.
We commonly experience these potential anger triggers in our daily lives. An appropriate level of anger that is expressed correctly helps us take the right action, solve the problem that is presenting itself, or deal with the situation in a positive manner. If we can learn to manage our anger, we will learn to express it appropriately and act constructively.
So when you’re angry, use Redford Williams’ 12 steps to calm down:
Step 1: Maintain a “Hostility Log”
Download our free Hostility Log worksheet and use it to monitor what triggers your anger and the frequency of your anger responses. When you know what makes you angry, you will be in a much better position to develop strategies to contain it or channel it effectively.
Step 2: If You Do, Acknowledge That You Have a Problem Managing Anger
It is an observed truth that you cannot change what you don’t acknowledge. So it is important to identify and accept that anger is a roadblock to your success.
Step 3: Use Your Support Network
If anger is a problem, let the important people in your life know about the changes you are trying to make. They can be a source of motivation and their support will help you when you lapse into old behavior patterns.
Step 4: Use Anger Management Techniques to Interrupt the Anger Cycle
- Take deep breaths.
- Tell your self you can handle the situation.
- Stop the negative thoughts.
Step 5: Use Empathy
If another person is the source of your anger, try to see the situation from his or her perspective. Remind yourself to be objective and realize that everyone makes mistakes and it is through mistakes that people learn how to improve.
Step 6: Laugh at Yourself
Humor is often the best medicine. Learn to laugh at yourself and not take everything so seriously.
The next time you feel tempted to kick the photo copier, think about how silly you would look and see the humor in your inappropriate expressions of anger.
Step 7: Relax
Angry people are often the ones who let the little things bother them. If you learn to calm down you will realize that there is no need to get uptight and you will have fewer angry episodes.
Step 8: Build Trust
Angry people can be cynical people. They believe that others are going to do something on purpose to annoy or frustrate them even before it happens. If you can build trust in people you will be less likely to become angry with them when something does go wrong and more likely to attribute the problem to something other than a malicious intent.
Step 9: Listen
Miscommunication contributes to frustrating and mistrusting situations. The better you listen to what a person is saying, the better able you will be to find a resolution that does not involve an anger response.
Step 10: Be Assertive
Remember, the word is assertive NOT aggressive. When you are angry it is often difficult to express yourself properly. You are too caught up in the negative emotion and your physiological symptoms (beating heart, red face) to put together solid arguments or appropriate responses. If you learn to assert yourself and let other people know your expectations, boundaries, issues, and so on, you will have much more interpersonal success.
Step 11: Live Each Day as if it is Your Last
This saying may be overused, but it holds a fundamental truth. Life is short and it is much better spent positively than negatively. Realize that if you spend all your time getting angry, you will miss out on the many joys and surprises that life has to offer.
Step 12: Forgive
To ensure that the changes you are making go much deeper than the surface, you need to forgive the people in your life that have angered you. It is not easy letting go of past hurts and resentments but the only way to move past your anger is to let go of these feelings and start fresh. (Depending on what, or who, is at the root of your anger, you may have to solicit the help of a professional to achieve this fully.)
These 12 steps form a comprehensive plan to get control of inappropriate and unproductive anger. And the quicker you begin the better. Anger and stress are highly correlated and the effects of stress on the body are well documented. You will find that many of the techniques presented here are used in stress management as well because both are negative, emotional-based influences in our lives, and the approach for dealing with them is therefore quite similar.
Even if you are not at the point where you feel your anger is a problem, it is a wise idea to familiarize yourself with the processes listed. If you do not have the tools to deal with anger correctly, it has a way of building-up over time. Before you know it, you can be in a position where anger is controlling you and becoming a negative influence in your life. Being proactive with anger management will help to ensure it remains a healthy emotion that protects you from unnecessary hurt or threat
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