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From Cary and Lake-in-the-Hills, IL: Proven Strategies for Controlling Your Anger

Feb 10, 2008
Everybody gets angry, but out-of-control changes lives for the worst and destroys families. Here is some advice to help you mellow-out.

Relaxation and Deep Breathing
Deep breathing and concentrating on serene images can help you calm down. If you are in a relationship where someone else is hot-tempered, both of you need to learn these techniques.

Start practicing these proven techniques now:
Breathe deeply, from your diaphragm, not from your chest. Picture your breath coming up from your stomach.

Slowly repeat a soothing word or phrase while you are breathing deeply, such as 'relax' or 'relaxing deeper and deeper.' Repeat it several times.

Imagine or visualize a calming scene from your memory or imagination.

Using non-strenuous, slow exercises over time, such as yoga, can relax your muscles and help you to feel tranquil.

Use the following techniques automatically when you are feeling tense and practice them daily:

Managing your Thoughts
Changing the way you think can be crucial. Angry people tend to holler, swear, or curse in ways that reflect their inner frustrations. Your thinking gets very exaggerated and dramatic when you are angry. Practice consciously replacing these thoughts with ones that are more reasonable.

For instance, when you tell yourself, 'Oh, this is horrible, this is terrible, everything is destroyed,' tell yourself, 'It is frustrating, and understandable that this happened, but it is not the end of the world and getting angry is not going to fix it but moving on will.'

Do not use words like 'never' or 'always' when thinking about yourself or someone else. For example, 'Your style never works,' or 'You are always criticizing me' are often not just inaccurate; but also tend to result in self-righteousness and a feeling of futility. They also alienate and turn-off others who might be able to help you.

For example, if have a friend who is constantly late, do not impulsively attack him; instead think clearly about your goal--getting both of you there at the same time. Avoid saying things like, 'You are never on time! You must be the most irresponsible, uncaring person I have ever met!' All that accomplishes is hurting and angering your friend.

State the problem and open a dialogue that can find a mutual solution; or, if appropriate, solve the problem unilaterally.

For example, you might have to trick your friend by making your appointment time 45 minutes earlier and the other person will, in fact, get there in a timely manner! The purpose is to solve the problem so the friendship isn't damaged.

Remember, getting angry won't make you feel better and actually makes you feel worse.
Anger, even when justified, often becomes self-defeating and irrational.

Remind yourself not to take things personally: The world is not 'out to get you,' this is just one of the many rough spots of daily living. Doing this will help you get a healthier perspective.

Angry people tend to demand what is undemandable: fairness, recognition, admiration, agreement, and compliance. We are all hurt and disappointed when we do not get these things; but when the irrational demands of angry people are not met, the normal feeling of disappointment becomes anger, even rage.

Angry people must become aware of their demanding temperament, and translate their rigid demands into merely desires. Thinking 'I would like' is much healthier and more realistic than thinking 'I demand' or I must have. Then when you do not get what you want, your reactions will be normal--frustration, disappointment and hurt maybe--but not anger.

Also, sometimes anger is used as a way to avoid feeling hurt but, unless addressed, the hurt does not go away.

Seek Solutions
Not all anger is misplaced, and often it is a healthy, natural response to real life difficulties. Some argue that a cultural belief exists that every problem has a solution, and when one finds out that that is not the case, frustration is the result.

However, sometimes the answer is not in finding the solution but rather simply managing, handling and facing the issue.
Resolve to do your best, but do not punish yourself if an answer does not come immediately.

You will be less likely to lose patience and fall into the trap of black and white thinking if you approach the issue with your best efforts and make a serious attempt to face it head-on.

Communicate Clearly
Angry people tend to jump to--and act on conclusions which often turn out to be exaggerated or distorted. When you are in a heated discussion, slow down and think things through. Never be impulsive and say the first thing that comes to mind, but think carefully about your response. Most importantly, listen carefully to what is being said and take your time before responding.

Attend to the feelings that underly the anger.
People often get defensive when criticized, but do not automatically fight back; instead, listen to the underlying feelings.

It often can take a lot of patient questioning and even intuition to uncover them and do not let your anger make a discussion spin out of control. Keep your cool so the situation does not become disastrous.

Modify your Environment
Sometimes our surroundings cause irritation and anger.
Give yourself a break from them. Have some 'personal time' scheduled for times that you know will be particularly stressful.

For example, a working mother might decide that when she arrives home from work, the first 15 minutes will be her quiet time. With this brief respite, she may be more likely to be able to handle demands from her kids without blowing up.

Some additional tips:
If discussions held at the same time always turn into arguments, try changing the times. Sometimes the time or setting can trigger arguments out of association or habit.

Avoidance. Shut the door if the look of your kids room infuriates you. You do not have to look at what agitates you-take your life back.

Do not automatically assume that your child should clean the room so you won't have to be angry.' That's not the point. The real point is to keep you calm.
About the Author
Dr Shery is in Cary, IL, near Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Marengo and Lake-in-the-Hills. He's an expert psychologist. Call 1 847 516 0899 and make an appt orlearn more about counseling at: http://www.carypsychology.com
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