You may think that external factors—the insensitive actions of other people, for example, or frustrating situations—are causing your anger. But anger problems have less to do with what happens to you than how you interpret and think about what happened. Common negative thinking patterns can trigger and fuel anger and this is what you should avoid.
Clues that you have anger issues
You have a hard time compromising. Is it hard for you to understand other people’s points of view, and even harder to accept you are wrong? If you grew up in a family where anger was out of control, you may remember how the angry person got his or her way by being the loudest and most demanding.
You have trouble expressing emotions other than anger. Do you pride yourself on being tough and in control? Do you feel that emotions like fear, guilt, or shame don’t apply to you? Everyone has those emotions so you may just be using anger as a cover.
You view different opinions as a personal challenge. Do you believe that your way is always right and get angry when others disagree? If you have a strong need to be in control or a fragile ego, you may interpret other perspectives as a challenge to your authority, rather than simply a different way of looking at things.
How to Turn Around Your Temper Issues
- Get to the heart of it. What are you really mad about? If you dig deep, you’ll realize it probably isn’t about dirty dishes―or your friends, or any of the other small things that make you so frustrated. Consider seeking professional help if you can’t get to the bottom of it on your own.
- Get acquainted to anger clues. Become aware of the actions and feelings associated with your irritation. When you’re upset, do you slam your fists against the wall? Pace around the room? Grumble, swear, or grit your teeth? As you identify and experience each physiological response, make a mindful effort to do something―anything―else.
- Visualize peace. Try this technique to stop allowing your anger before it overtakes you. Imagine your breath as a wave, a surge of color, or even a breeze. Watch it come in and out; optimally each breath will be deep and quiet. Hear yourself speaking calmly and softly to yourself and to others.
- Focus on the physical sensations of anger. While it may seem counter-intuitive, tuning into the way your body feels when you’re angry often lessens the emotional intensity of your anger.
- Take some deep breaths. Deep, slow breathing helps counteract rising tension. The key is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible into your lungs.
- Exercise. A brisk walk around the block is a great idea. It releases pent-up energy so you can approach the situation with a cooler head.