On February 22nd, 2018, I did a talk for the Inclusive Excellence Series at UW-Green Bay. You can watch that talk, The Adaptive Value of Anger, below.
Ruminating is the tendency to go over and over an angering event in your mind. We think about what we could have said, should have said, etc. Though ruminating isn’t all bad (it helps us process negative events to make sense of them), it’s not particularly good for us and it is important to find ways to keep it under control. Here are four strategies to stop ruminating.
- Engage in activities that foster positive thoughts (e.g., exercise, a hobby).
- Problem solve by coming up with one concrete thing you can do to address the angering situation.
- Think less about the event and more about the core feeling that might be driving the anger (e.g., are you feeling angry because you are hurt, sad, scared, etc.).
- Practice mindfulness.
I’ve written before about the importance of keeping track of your thoughts and feelings. Now, I’ve found a handy tool to help. Take a look at this Daily Mood Log where you keep track of your emotions, the upsetting events that may have led to those emotions, and the thoughts you had that may have exacerbated the emotions.
Relaxation has been long-known as a treatment approach for anger problems. Muscle relaxation, meditation, deep-breathing, etc. are part of almost any standardized treatment approach. One particular type of relaxation (though, it’s much more than that) is yoga, which includes all the important treatment components of relaxation.
For some specifics, take a look at this 2013 Huffpost article: Yoga For Anger: 3 Moves to Help You Calm Down
One of the first things you should do when you’re angry is sort out why you are feeling that way. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes, it’s complicated. Sometimes it’s reasonable to get angry but you’re feeling much angrier than most people would in that circumstance.
We all have different hot-button issues. For some, it’s being slowed down. For others, it’s not being recognized for their work. Trying to figure out why you’re feeling a certain way and what it says about you can go a really long way to helping you deal with your anger.
We usually get mad because there’s a problem. We want things to be different than they are and we get angry when we decide that someone is to blame for that difference.
A good way to manage anger then is to think about how we want things to be and what we can do, if anything, to make things how we want. Are you angry about the way you’re being treated by a friend or family member? Is there anything you can do to get them to treat you differently? Are you angry about how long it takes your kids to get out the door to school each morning? Are there ways you can work with them to solve that problem?
Note that the way to the desired outcome is rarely to yell, scream, or swear at people. There’s nothing wrong with a good rant every now and then, but usually the solution to an angering problem is some sort of level-headed focus on the solution.
Deep breathing has long been considered a go-to when it comes to relaxing. It’s even acknowledges as an important “anger control” strategy on many measures of anger-related phenomena.
There are, of course, lots of ways to breathe deeply. Triangle breathing, as it’s called, is just one… but an effective one. Learn more here:
One of the best things you can do if you think you have an anger problem is to keep track of your angry feelings. At the end of each day, write down the times you got angry, what caused it, what types of thoughts you had, and what you did with your anger. A journal like this, sometimes called a mood log, can shed some light on the types of situations that make you angry and help you find ways to deal with those situations.
Most of my work looks at how we can understand and manage our own experiences with anger. However, there’s another side to this, since we all have to talk to, or work with, angry people all the time. Those interactions can be challenging—so here are 5 ways to deal with angry people.
In a previous post, I wrote about why people get angry. There’s a fairly predictable pattern based on your mood, the provocation, and your interpretation of that provocation (which is influenced by your mood). What follows all that is the anger response which can look a lot of different ways (anything from suppression to appropriate assertion to violence).