What is your response when something happens that triggers you and you feel like you are about to explode? Or someone says something that infuriates you?
Mean things may come to your mind and retaliation may be uppermost in your mind. What to do? You can simply vent at the moment but sometimes you can make a situation worse. What are some of the better ways to handle yourself when you are angry?
The other night, friends of mine had a conflict. Joe* did something that triggered Sarah*. She frowned and started shaking. She knew she would say things she’d later regret, and knew she needed to calm down. She got up, grabbed a book and went downstairs to her basement to exercise. With the time and space to think, she was able to sort through her thoughts and feelings and then decide more objectively what to do and how to address the situation.
7 Tips to Deal with your anger
Try one or more of these options whatever works for you.
1. Walk away. This is not always possible but if possible, give yourself some space from the other person and situation. You can tell the person, “I’m upset right now. Let me calm down and then we can talk. If you can’t walk away, at least pause and take several deep breaths and you can say the same thing.
2. Calm down. Anger releases hormones and adrenalin that cause hearts to race and minds to spin. Take a walk. Go exercise. Exercise helps to get rid of negative energy. If you have a pillow or something safe you can punch, sometimes that helps. Do something else to get your mind off of it. Clean, garden, go fishing, listen to something, read a book, do a hobby. Watch something funny.
3. Process your thoughts and feelings. If you can, talk to someone you trust who will listen and let you vent. This will help you clarify the issues and think more clearly. Sometimes the other person may even have some perspective that can help. Be careful not to talk to someone who advises you to do something harmful. Choose someone who can be more rational and look at the situation more objectively.
4. Vent. If you don’t have someone to talk to, you can go somewhere alone and vent to yourself out loud. If it helps, you can punch a pillow while you do. Be careful though not to hurt yourself by banging your fists or head against a wall. Choose something soft.
5. Write. Another way to process your feelings is to write. Sometimes it helps to write an angry letter to the person you are angry with, but don’t send it. This helps you to get all your thoughts and feelings out. If you do want to send a letter, let it set for a day or two and when you return to it, you will be able to be more objective. Then rewrite it following the principles of respect and good communication skills.
6. Seek understanding. If you don’t understand the other person or why you are so upset, ask God to help you understand yourself, the other person, and the situation. Ask for wisdom. He will give it to you. It may not be immediate, but it will come.
7. Accept your limitations. Wisdom tells you that you don’t have to change every person or situation. Pray for wisdom on what you need to let go of and what you need to address using the guidelines on how to talk and share feelings.
These tips will help you use your anger in constructive ways that will benefit yourself and others. When you have challenging communication situations, you may find these other posts helpful.
When you need to address an issue with someone, re-read the 10 Powerful Tips for Sharing Thoughts and Feelings. When you want to listen more effectively, refer to 7 Tips for Effective Listening and Talking Together.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to do it perfectly. Good communication, like any other skill is a learning process. Extend yourself some grace. Each time you read these, your knowledge and skill will expand. Communication skills are a wonderful resource so take advantage of it and enjoy the benefits of more peace in your relationships.
“In your anger do not sin” Ephesians 4:26a (NIV)
What are some helpful ways you deal with your anger? Share with us in the comments below.
*names changed to protect parties involved