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Tempering Your Temper

With all of our talk recently about family medical histories and advance health care directives and living wills – all of which require peacekeeping, tact and discreet conversations with the family – and, just lately, the importance of optimism and practicing happiness, we thought some anger management tips might be in order.  Even tantrums can be dealt with in a positive way!

  1. Get some exercise every day.  There’s real science behind this: physical exercise stimulates brain chemicals that help you relax and feel happier.  Plus, physical activity can act as a safety valve, relieving the pressure that signals an impending emotional outburst or eruption.  Feel yourself ready to lash out? Take a walk; go for a quick jog; weed between the stepping stones; reorganize the canned goods.  Do something physical to give those angry feelings an outlet.
  2. Put yourself in timeout.  Instead of immediately reacting to a situation, take a slow, deep breath and count to 10 or even 50.  Collect yourself and let your frustration settle back down.  Take a short break from the situation if you need to.
  3. Articulate your anger once you are calmer.  This is hard, but you can do it.  Express your anger or frustration in a calm, nonthreatening way.  Confrontation rarely solves anything.  Be direct and clear about what your concerns are.  Avoid hurting anyone with your words.  And try not to control others with your temper.
  4. Think. Think again.  Then speak.  We all are guilty of getting caught up in the moment, in our own amazing rhetoric, and saying things we regret the moment we say them.  Give yourself, and any others involved in the situation, time to think.  Prevention beats cure every time.
  5. Stay with ‘I’ sentences.  The first thing we want to do when angry is shift the blame to someone else and criticize the devil out of them, too.  Don’t do it!  Use ‘I’ sentences to go over the problem and be respectful as you describe your feelings.  Not “You never, ever put gas in the car”, but “I get upset when I am on my way to the office in the morning and find the car on ‘E’; I don’t like being late for work”.
  6. Identify solutions. While we want to focus on the angry part of the problem, try focusing on resolution.  Anger doesn’t fix things – solutions do.  Be sure the car has gas in the tank the night before, or agree that whenever the tank is half empty, no matter who is driving the car then will fill it up: voila! no more blame, no more ‘E’s!  If your son’s pigpen of a room drives you absolutely crazy, keep the door closed.
  7. Use humor. Do not use sarcasm.  Humor can relieve tension like nothing else.  Sarcasm, though, can be hurtful and make things worse, especially with children.
  8. No grudges!  There is a lot to be said for ‘forgive and forget’.
  9. Practice relaxation techniques.  You know the drill.  Repeat that calming mantra; breathe deeply; plug in the music.  Do what you need to do to encourage relaxation.  Your temper wants to go somewhere; it’s up to you to direct it appropriately.  And you can do it!
  10. Know when it’s time to call in the troops! Managing your temper, learning how to cope with your anger, is a process, a very challenging process.  If you find yourself lashing out too often, hurting the feelings of loved ones or co-workers, if you sense you are out of control with your anger, consider seeking help.  There may be local anger management classes you can attend.  Anger management counseling may also be useful.  Professionals can help you master important skills: you can learn more about what anger is; sort out what triggers your outbursts; spot the signs that you are becoming angry; explore underlying feelings that your anger might be hiding; learn to manage frustration and anger in a healthy way. 
Anger can be a healthy emotion and a terrific motivator.  We are angry when we see injustice or poverty or exploitation and we use that anger to build hospitals and schools and rally for social justice.  But uncontrolled anger is something else entirely.  It takes a huge toll on our families, friends and our own health, too.  So temper that temper!  Stay strong and fit!  Keep those insurance premiums down!

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2 responses to “Tempering Your Temper

  1. Pingback: HE CONTROLS HIS TEMPER WHEN HE WANTS TO « Spiritual Side of Domestic Violence

  2. Pingback: You Decide, How You Feel « Think > Learn > Do

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