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Of all the emotions that make up the human condition, I think that anger is definitely one of the most difficult to control. And, as life would have it, it is probably also one of the most important emotions to control. It can come out of nowhere, and is oftentimes provoked by circumstances beyond our reach – and we all absorb and release the emotion in different ways.
Whether your temper is quick and explosive or a slow boil that tends to linger, here are some tips for taming that most ferocious of internal beasts:
When feelings of anger and rage hit, it’s a common tendency to want to react quickly – either by speaking or physically moving. But, as best you can, resist the urge to lash out. Take time to sit quietly with your own thoughts, and try to process what is happening and how you feel – and then, once you’ve taken that moment to remain still, allow yourself to react.
Don’t stay still.
If you’re able to, go out and get some exercise – even if that just means a brief walk around your neighborhood. Studies upon studies have shown that physical activity can help to reduce stress – the very stress that is causing you to become angry.
Own the emotion.
Anyone who has tried will tell you that trying to pretend that you’re not angry when you are angry is useless. If anything, this resistance only makes the problem worse. Instead, do your best to own up to your anger; admit it to yourself and, if applicable, to those people involved in the situation. Remember that acknowledging the anger is not the same as reacting to it. Save that step for once you’ve managed to calm down a bit.
Just like trying to ignore the anger won’t do you any good, hiding it from people can also be harmful. So instead, once you’ve given yourself adequate time to process all facets of the emotion (i.e. exactly why you’re anger, not just the fact that you are) do your best to communicate this calmly and clearly to the person with whom you are angry. Some people find that it’s easier to do this in writing; if you are one of those people, that’s fine. Write a letter, make a phone call, speak face-to-face – but do so carefully, and with the intention to communicate your emotions in a healthy way and then move on. Also remember that not everyone will be equally receptive or calm, but you can’t control the way someone reacts to your words – only the way that youreact.
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