You are not a victim of your situation; you always have the option of taking a deliberate and well-thought out response to an anger-provoking situation. Your options typically fall into three categories:
Alter means that you initiate change.
You can change things in your environment that are within your control. You can also initiate changes within yourself.
- Change non-productive habits.If you know that you have a particular way of doing things that often result into an anger situation, perhaps it’s time to break the pattern.You can’t control other people’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior, but you can control yours. You can, however, let them know that you’d appreciate a change, just as perhaps you are willing to change.
- Change the way you view a situation.Sometimes, it’s our interpretation of a situation that makes us angry, rather than the situation itself. What you can do is change your way of thinking. For example, irrational thoughts like “I have to be perfect at all times” usually result in anger directed at one’s self. Maybe if you start thinking “It’s alright to fail now and then,” things would get easier.
- Change the way you react to a situation. You can also deliberately change the way you respond. Anger usually begets anger; we raise our voice when someone raises their voice to us. But if you take a moment and find other ways to respond, then maybe you can manage your anger better.
Avoid means steering clear of situations that can make you angry.
1: Steer clear of people who make you upset. Anger responses can be triggered by interactions with difficult people, or people who just ‘rub you up the wrong way.’ If you notice that a particular person triggers an intense anger reaction in you, and you feel that you can’t control it, then it’s best that you just take action to avoid this individual.
2: Steer clear of your ‘hot buttons.’One of the advantages of knowing your hot buttons is that it enables you to structure your day in such a way that avoids them.
3: Remove yourself from a stressful situation immediately.Another avoid intervention is to immediately remove yourself from a situation that you know from experience might escalate your anger. For example, if a particular situation provokes your anger, you don’t have to stay around until you become even more angry. You can opt to walk away and address the issue another day.
There are some things that we must accept, because we cannot change nor avoid them.
Examples would be unrecoverable losses, like an accident or financial collapse.
How can we make acceptance easier?
1: Find learning.When you have no choice but to accept a situation, make the most of it by distilling the lessons from the experience. This way you can recover control by making proactive changes to prevent the situation from happening again.
2: Seek higher purpose.Finding meaning can help in managing anger. Interpreting a situation based on one’s faith life, or personal philosophy, can lessen its threatening impact on the self. For instance, there are people who think that every negative experience is an opportunity, a call for change.
3: Vent to a friend.If you can’t do anything but accept a situation, at the very least find someone to share your experience with. Venting with a trusted friend or mental health professional can help you integrate the experience better in your life. This can help you move on faster and more effectively.
This is an extract from the RespectED Online Course: ANGER MANAGEMENT SKILLS: available at www.respected.training
If you prefer to read the material you can also download the book.