In life, we have to put up with a lot of situations that may cause us to boil over with anger. Too much anger too much of the time is upsetting and can hurt your health.
Life is full of little annoyances – like when the person in front of you in the queue won’t stop gabbing, or when the waiter mixes up your order. Sometimes, it can be more serious, like when a client is yelling at you because they’re having a bad day.
The point is that there are many frustrating events in life that we find ourselves having to deal with. It’s normal to feel annoyance from time to time. But it’s not normal to find yourself fuming over the smallest little thing that goes wrong or to feel anger all the time.
If you ask yourself questions like, “Why am I so angry all the time?” or “What’s wrong with me? I’m always angry,” you’re probably at your wit’s end. Well, never fear; there are ways to help yourself. In this post, we are going to deal with how to stop being angry all the time.
But, before we start looking at solutions, let’s learn a little more about anger itself.
Why Am I So Angry All The Time?
Anger was designed to be a stress response. It gets you ready to fight or flee for your life. It gets the adrenaline pumping and helps heighten the senses. You feel like you’re ready to take on anything. Readiness is useful if you have a shark chasing you down, or you need to fight off an attacker.
In dangerous situations, you need to be at your peak physically, and the adrenaline helps with that. The problem nowadays, though, is that there are a lot of situations that might cause us to feel angry, situations that are not actually life-threatening, and it’s hard to find the root cause.
So, you get over-excited and have no way to release the extra energy. Failing to deal with anger could cause you to blow up and let that idiotic clerk have it, or chase down the guy that cut you off in traffic. Those are both examples of anger getting out of control and neither are good responses.
According to the Mayo Clinic, anger can contribute to increased heart rate, heart disease, strokes, ulcers, and high blood pressure. So you need to get it under control if you want to remain healthy.
So I Should Never Be Angry?
In an ideal world, there would never be any cause for anger, but how much excitement would there be then? Anger is often a response to frustration. And, while no one likes being frustrated, it can be a good motivating factor when it comes to change.
A world where we’re never frustrated might not be as amazing as it sounds, and it certainly wouldn’t be great for our personal growth.
But there is no denying that it’s equally wrong to lose control or to fume silently over an injustice for ages. Which leads us to our next point – it’s not the anger itself that is the issue, but rather the way we respond to it.
We’re not going to say that you should never get angry – that wouldn’t be realistic. What we will say, however, is that there is a healthy way to deal with the anger. And the good news is that this is something that you can learn.
But What if I’m Born With a Short Temper?
Here’s the thing, some people have shorter fuses than others. But have you ever seen a newborn lose its temper over something simple? They might cry in frustration when they’re hungry, or want love, or something, but anger is not a trait that is inborn.
So here’s the good news – you might think you have a short temper and there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s not true. You can learn coping mechanisms and behaviors that will help you with anger management in a healthier way.
It’s a matter of learning how to respond better in situations that cause you stress. And, once you do that, you can get a lid on the irrational outbursts for once and for all.
Isn’t It Healthy to Let it Out?
It’s not healthy to suppress all your anger because then it becomes something like a powder keg that will explode eventually. Suppressing anger is not an ideal solution, but it is more socially acceptable than periodic outbursts.
If you’re prone to outbursts, you’ll have to deal with not only the emotions themselves but also the guilt afterward. So letting it all out is also not a great option. Strike a happy medium and learn to control the outbursts. You can communicate that you are angry in a calm and controlled manner.
How Do I Control My Anger?
Okay, let’s get to the good stuff, actually getting rid of the anger itself.
Exercise is a healthy way to release built-up tension when you’re angry. The next time you’re upset, try hitting the gym, going for a walk, or whacking the heck out of a punching bag. You don’t even need a full gym session, just get your body moving. MentalHelp.net says that a good workout could be the way to go!
But don’t save it all up for when you’re feeling angry. Exercise on a regular basis will help you to manage stress better and help alleviate the tension that might result in angry outbursts.
What’s more, exercise can help you feel happier because it causes the release of endorphins. Endorphins create the so-called “runner’s high” that you can get only through exercising.
Channel Your Rage Into a Project for Change
The good thing about anger is that it can provide you with energy. Take advantage of that to make a positive change in your life. Maybe your boss has mistreated you. You have a few choices. You could take out the anger on your family, or people that you meet, or you could let it motivate you.
Start looking for that new job. Use it to help you upskill yourself. Make it a motivation for change rather than an overriding difficult emotion.
Find a positive way to help channel the negative emotions that anger creates to help diffuse the anger. You can then approach the situation that made you angry and calmly talk it out with the other person.
I quote from the Handbook of Emotion Regulation, “focusing on a negative emotion will likely intensify the experience of that emotion further and thus make down-regulation more difficult, leading to lower adjustment and well-being.”
No more outbursts of rage, and positive changes in future – this is a win-win solution.
Watch Something That Will Put You in a Better Mood
Do you have a favorite movie that is guaranteed to lighten your mood? Or a program that you like, or even a short YouTube clip that makes you laugh? Keep an eye out for a fun YouTube channel, or a Facebook page where funny clips appear regularly.
Then, next time you’re angry, head over to the clip and check it out. It must be something that makes you laugh – and a good belly laugh at that. Laughter causes the brain to release endorphins and helps us relax. These emotions can quickly override the negative ones.
Shift the Focus
At first glance, shifting the focus may seem like suppressing the anger, but it’s slightly different. Instead of allowing yourself to hulk out and go into a rage, you’re going to shift the focus to something more positive.
To do this, start writing down at least ten things that you are grateful for in your life. If need be, extend the list to 20, or even 30. This exercise gives you something or someone else to focus on instead.
Instead of focusing on the stupid comment your colleague made, think about the good things in your life. It won’t be that long before you start to feel like that rage is starting dissipate.
And, once that happens, you can look at things more calmly again.
Start by meditating for just five minutes a day, every day. You don’t have to do anything too complicated. Try focusing on your breathing as a simple introduction to the calming effect of meditation. Breathe to the count of four, hold your breath to the count of four, exhale to the count of four.
Repeat this several times until you start to feel your mind clear and you feel calmer and more relaxed. Practice this every day, whether you feel anger or not. Breathing exercises are an excellent tool for helping you gain control of your thoughts.
Counting and breathing won’t be easy initially, but it gets better with practice. And, of course, if you’re angry, this is a great exercise to help you regain your composure.
OK, so your kids are driving you nuts. You could yell at them, or you could take that anger and use it to help you do something more productive and physical. Haul out the vacuum cleaner and clean the stairs, or go rake the leaves in the yard.
Just make sure that you choose something that requires physical activity. You’ll get a handle on your chores, and you’ll calm down; it’s another win-win.
The act of writing out your thoughts is cathartic. You can use writing as a chance to vent your emotions without losing control. And don’t think you need to hold back here. If your boss is an idiot, write that. No one else needs to see what you’ve written, so be as scathing as you like.
If journaling isn’t for you, why not write a letter to the person who has upset you. Tell the person who upset you exactly what you think and keep writing the letter until you feel better. Then burn the letter. As you watch the letter burn, you can use that as a symbol that you are letting go of the anger.
As you watch the smoke waft away, imagine it taking your anger with it.
Another version of this exercise that can be quite a lot of fun is to write a story in which you kill off the person that wronged you. You can produce several versions of this story, and it can be a fun way to get a sense of being in control again in a situation where you feel helpless.
Maybe you can throw that colleague into a James Bond-style pit of sharks. Or why not lock him in a bank vault so that he can slowly suffocate? Get creative. You’ll have fun, get some release, and, most important, be able to channel some violent impulses at the same time.
How Important Was the Slight?
When you feel yourself getting angry, it can be helpful to take a step back from the situation and consider how bad the slight was. How will you think about it six weeks from now? Will you even remember getting angry about it then?
What about six months from now? The truth is that we do get angry over trivial things sometimes. They may seem important at the time, but you’ll quickly forget them. Take a step back and evaluate how important the issue to put things into perspective.
For example, let’s say that the waitress forgets to bring your drink. It’s annoying, but is it worth spoiling your whole meal over? Two weeks from now, will it still make you angry if you think about it? Or will you feel sorry for making such a fuss?
Forgiveness can be difficult when someone has hurt you, but it’s important to remember that it’s not about the person that wronged you. If it helps, remember that the person may have been doing the best they could, with the knowledge they had available to them or someone else.
If your spouse cheats on you, you could let it eat you up inside, but that’s only going to make you feel ill. As the saying goes, holding on to anger is like eating poison and waiting for the other person to die. All that anger makes you even more upset.
Meanwhile, the other person probably moved on ages ago. Work on letting it go and get rid of the negative feelings. It doesn’t mean that you’ll forget what they did, but it does help us get on with our life.
We don’t like admitting that we need help, but if the tricks mentioned above aren’t working, it’s time to seek professional help. The advantage of going to a professional is that you get an objective audience to vent to.
A counselor can help you look at the situation from a completely different perspective and also teach you coping skills. Counseling can be invaluable.
Wrapping it Up
It’s not logical or even healthy to resolve never to feel anger again. Those of us who have suffered because of anger issues, however, might want to forego getting mad because of the fallout of being angry. But anger itself is not actually the problem.
Our reaction to the anger is the problem.
So, instead of trying to suppress your anger, find other coping methods to deal with it more healthily. You’ll feel happier, healthier, and a lot more content if you do.