This is the second post about my experience as a facilitator of an anger management course for 16-25 year olds, and the tips about dealing with anger.
Today, we’re going to deal with the preparation you can do to avoid acting out of anger, and the aftermath.
In case you missed last week’s post, “Dealing with Feeling”, here are three key points to know:
- Anger is a neutral emotion, though your action may have a positive or negative moral value.
- Anger is a useful emotion – giving you extra power when you need to fight or flee in dangerous situations (or in this day and age, letting you know that something is wrong and in protecting your values / world-view).
- Anger cannot be removed entirely (and there is no need to try). However, we can manage it. This means you minimise how often you act upon it and to what degree you act.
Okay, now that’s understood, let’s begin with preparatory actions for managing your anger.
Preparation – Maintaining a Base Calm
A trigger of anger is usually more than just about that one incident. Things have been building up over time and suddenly, you reach the top of the volcano and can’t help but erupt.
It’s a good practise to have methods of releasing small pieces of annoyance so that they don’t build up.
Common methods include:
- ranting (in a journal/blog/twitter/to a friend).
- it’s important not to let them catch you up into the drama though; talking to an empty chair is just as good
- punching pillows
- regular walks / runs
- play a game
Some of these techniques will also work during the moment of anger; but if you go for a walk once a week, take ten minutes a day to meditate and get a massage/reiki session once a month, your levels of stress will generally stay lower, which means your reactions to things that may cause anger will also be lower.
Question #4: What can I do for myself to release excess energy and chill out?
Will this matter in 24 hours time? Or a year?
How long is your journey? Is it worth being in a bad mood for the rest of the day over? Will getting into an argument help?
Is this even about the situation which has triggered your emotion?
Some of the physical predispositions to anger include feeling ill, being hot, being tired or feeling hungry / thirsty. If our basic needs aren’t met, we’re more likely to react with anger.
Take a step back and see what this is really about, and if it really matters.
Question #5: Will this matter in 48 hours time? Is it worth causing a stir over?
Prevent A Future Situation
One of my most useful new practises since beginning the course last May was to speak to someone as soon as something bothered me the second time. This stopped it going from a one-night irritation to a full blown rage over the course of many nights, but also didn’t make it seem like I was complaining every time anything happened. Once I could let go. Twice and it became a pattern.
My new routine became:
- say what the side effect is, then say you think X might be contributing and could we come to an arrangement that means the other person can still be free but I don’t get the side effect:
“Hey housemate, how are you?
“Really tired. I couldn’t get to sleep last night.. worry, work, and at times your music was a little loud.”
“Oh..” (or sorry, or silence)
“I wondered if you’d be up for maybe setting a level or a time to finish music by, or if there’s something you could suggest that I do to alleviate this that wouldn’t mean disrupting your chilling out time?”
I’m taking responsibility that it’s MY issue with her music and that I’m willing to change how I act if I can. I’m also opening dialogue so she can realise that her music does affect me.
I’ve not called her a name, raised my voice or made any comment about her behaviour being “bad”. It’s also good to state about this making you FEEL something. Annoyed, tired, restless, anxious… people connect with emotions better than an abstract action.
Question #6: How can I approach this issue once it becomes a pattern?
- If you lost your temper, I’d suggest apologising. And explaining which action annoyed you, why (you could share your view with them?) and how it made you feel.
- If you got angry by yourself (and didn’t do anything to show them), then I’d suggest trying the above tip (6) after you’ve calmed down.
Mini-note: I often find preparing this conversation brings up the anger again. Tell yourself you’re going to go and sort the issue out without the use of anger. The anger has told you that this bothers you; its message has got through. Now let’s be nice and calm and express our feelings to another human being who also experiences emotions.
You can’t control the feeling of anger, but you can control how much you let it build, how you act on it and how you choose to view it.
- Keep yourself calm on a daily basis
- Take up calm-promoting exercises
- Avoid gossiping
- Keep alert to the triggers as you get annoyed
- When you’re predisposed, take extra breaths
- Put it in perspective
- Are your basic needs met?
Questions For Thought
How do you create your space of calm?
What are your thoughts on anger management?
Do you have an effective method of calming down, or approaching others?
Did you have a question I’ve not answered?
It would be great if you’d post any of these thoughts in the comments section for everyone to share and learn from.
– Rose –