Strategies to Control Anger
like happiness, is an emotion which affects our psychological, cognitive
and physiological functions. Anger tends to become aroused when
we feel we are in danger, or we feel we have been deliberately provoked.
Our heart rate increases, stress hormones are released into the blood
stream, and that familiar 'fight or flight' instinct rears its head.
its very nature, anger is hard to ignore. Robert W. Westermeyer, PhD,
an anger management specialist, writes about 'anger myopia' -- our focus
becomes exclusively narrowed to the perceived injustice. Because anger
tends to strike very suddenly, it is particularly difficult to control,
and early on it becomes very hard to empathize with others.
are some tips on dealing with our own anger:
- Slow down.
This is key in anger management. Once you recognize early arousal
symptoms, step back. If you need to, just walk away. This is not denial,
but rather taking a second look. By then, your anger may have lost
a lot of its power.
- Look for the
evidence. Is this person really a selfish jerk? Pretend you are
a defense attorney. What specifically have they done to provoke you?
Is getting stuck in traffic grounds for ruining the evening? Force
yourself to empathize early on.
- Practice the
big 'So What?' So what if we are late to the party? So what if
it's raining today? So what if the laundry isn't done? Are there alternatives
to getting angry?
- Imagine the
outcome. What will be the likely response to my rage? Frequently,
fire brings on fire. Is it worth starting a turf war over this?
- Project into
the future. Will this matter tomorrow? Next year? In fifty years?
most specialists agree that the traditional 'punching a pillow' doesn't
really work. Although it may feel good in the moment, it does nothing
to reduce what is bothering you. Venting may in fact intensify your
feelings of rage. Try to identify clearly and specifically what has
provoked you. If your feelings are justified, try following some of
the steps detailed in Redford and Virginia Williams book, Anger Kills.
Or check out the Managing Anger part
of this week's episode of Body & Soul.
Houses of Healing
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