If you met me today, you’d never know that I used to be a really angry person. Like really, really angry. It took very little to send me into a screaming, yelling, crying, stomping my feet, red-faced fit. Anything from getting cut off in traffic to a chip in my 2nd favorite cup to breaking news interrupting my favorite show. If the day wasn’t going exactly as I thought it should go, I freaked. FREAKED. Then I taught myself one little trick that stopped it all. Anger? Manged. Just like that.
One Trick to Manage Your Anger
I’m not going to lie, you have to actually WANT to manage your anger for this to work. If you’re happy blowing up over every little thing, every slight real or perceived, nothing is going to help you. Just like all things in life, you have to recognize that you have a problem. You have to want to change. As long as you have that desire, I can almost guarantee that my trick will work for you. You just have to let it.
For me, I recognized that spazzing out every time things didn’t go my own way wasn’t just going to kill me eventually from the stress, it was going to make me a horrible mother. I didn’t want to be that mom you see screaming at her child on the playground because her kid tried to sneak in an extra turn down the slide after she said it was time to go home.
Here’s the trick: before you blow a gasket, think to yourself “will this really impact and affect my life tomorrow?” If not, you can’t get mad.
That’s really all there is to it, but let me explain a bit more.
Will it affect me tomorrow?
I actually break it down a bit more: will it affect me in five minutes? Ten minutes? An hour? Tomorrow? Next month? The rest of my life? The answer determines how mad I can get. If the dog gets into the garbage again and leaves me a big mess to clean up, it’s tempting to stomp my feet and yell. Who wants to clean up garbage first thing in the morning?
However, I know that a) it’s my fault for making it so darn tempting to my dog with food security issues stemming back to his puppyhood in a cage with ten other dogs and b)it will take less than five minutes to clean up. I can either get mad at more poor dog and give him a bigger complex, stomp my feet and yell until I have a headache, or grab a broom and spend three minutes cleaning it up before moving on with my life. If I do the first two, I still have to do the third. So why not skip that ranting and raving entirely?
Will it affect THEM tomorrow?
Your child chips your favorite mug. The one you bought during your stint living overseas. The one that’s totally irreplaceable without hoping a plane back across the continent. You are SO mad. What was he thinking? How could he be so disrespectful of your stuff? You blow up…then find out that he was trying to do something nice for you, like bring you breakfast in bed. How do you feel now? Worse, how does your child feel now?
Kids break things. Kids make messes and spill things and do the opposite of what we tell them all the time. Stuff is just that, stuff. Our kids, on the other hand, are little beings made up of fragile emotions. That chipped mug doesn’t affect the grand scheme of your life. You may not be able to replace that mug, but you definitely can’t replace your child and you can never take back the things you say in anger. What’s more important? A mug or your kid?
Before you freak out on someone, think about the affect of their actions on your life versus the affect of your anger on their lives. If you’ll forget about their mistake tomorrow, is it worth putting a dent in their self-esteem or even damaging your relationship long-term by letting it out today?
What if it will affect me tomorrow?
Sometimes, the answer is yes, it will affect me tomorrow, or next week, or next year. Don’t worry, there’s a trick for that too. Sometimes, things happen that do leave a lasting scar and long-term anger. However, even though I’m angry, I have to remind myself that I can’t be angry all the time. I have to find a way to function, as hard as that is at times. I have a child to raise, bills to pay. If I’m angry all the time, those who made me that way win. They’ve already taken something from me. I can’t let them take my control too. So I let myself be angry when I’m alone and it doesn’t affect anyone else. I scream, cry and rage in private. Then I pull myself together and put it all away before my son comes home.
That’s the trick: maintaining control and containing your anger becomes your win, your way to have some sort of triumph over the person who wronged you. Chances are, that person isn’t sitting around thinking about what they did to you. People who cause pain to others so easily rarely do. By letting it eat you alive, you’re giving them win after win.
Allow yourself a set amount of private time of pure, unadulterated anger and hatred towards that person. Scream and yell if you need to. Use your R-rated, after-10PM only language if you need to. No one is judging. Get it out, then let it go until your next scheduled rant fest. It takes practice and seems weird at first, scheduling your emotions, but it really does help.
You’re not suppressing, you’re diffusing
I know someone out there is going to say that it’s not good to suppress all that anger. That would be true…if you were actually suppressing it. You’re not, though. You’re diffusing and redirecting. By forcing yourself to answer a simple question, you’re giving yourself a moment to breathe and calm down. It’s kind of like counting to ten. I actually tried the whole count to ten thing before this, but it didn’t work for me. It just gave me ten more seconds to really work up a good steam!
When the answer is yes, by ranting in private, you’re still giving yourself a second chance to diffuse. If you’re still really angry at someone and feel they deserve to know it, then by all means, let them know. Just use your big girl words and rational voice. People typically respond to anger with anger of their own. When you scream, their defenses go up and nothing gets accomplished.
The great thing about this trick: the more you use it, the less you need to use it. After a few years of following my own rule, I find that things that use to send me off the deep end don’t even phase me anymore. Where I used to get mad about every little thing, now it takes an awful lot to even irk me. I’m a nicer person and a better mom because of it. Just give it a try! What do you have to lose, aside from your anger?
Do you have any anger management tricks of your own? Tell me about them below!