Part 2 of our anger management series focuses on tips and strategies to help you control your anger response in the very moment you are experiencing it.  As with anything, the following strategies will get easier over time, becoming more like second nature as you practice them.  Experiment to find out what works best for you; which tips and strategies help you to control and diffuse your anger response quickly and easily.  While these tips are designed to help you ‘in the moment’, they will also help you long term because the less you give in to your anger (and the more you become accustomed to these techniques), the less hard-wired your brain will be towards uncontrollable anger (and the more hard-wired it will be to the calming effects of these strategies).

  1. Take a time out and BREATHE. This is the first, very important step to diffusing anger, and it is very powerful.   Some experts tell you to count to ten; others say to take three long, deep breaths.  We say try both, together and separate, and see what works best for you.  Either way, it should be the very first strategy you employ when you start to feel the anger bubble up inside of you.
  2. Check in with your thoughts and downgrade as necessary. Often when we are angry, our thinking centers around words like “awful, terrible, everything is ruined” which contribute to how angry we are over a given situation.  Once you are calm, gain perspective and downgrade those thoughts to, “This is frustrating and annoying, but not the end of the world.  I can find a solution to this issue.”
  3. Express Your Anger Clearly and Assertively without Aggression. When you are calm, express your concerns in a non-confrontational, direct manner.  State your needs clearly, and without hurting others.  Stay away from “always” and “never”, in both your thoughts and speech.   When you think in terms of “he always does this,” and “she’ll never change”, it fools you into thinking your intense anger response is justified and that there is no solution to the problem.  When spoken, it alienates and humiliates the people around you and makes problem-solving very difficult.  Instead, stick with “I” statements, like “I’m upset that you left the table without offering to do the dishes,” instead of “You never help out around the house.  I always have to do everything.”
  4. Think before you speak. Anger can cause us to say things we would never dream of in our more calm and loving moments.   Words can hurt and can’t be taken back once spoken.  When anger is involved, it is wise to pause before speaking and ask yourself, “Do I really want to say this? Is there a better way to express how I am feeling?”  If you are unsure, imagine how you would feel if what you are about to say was said to you.
  5. Focus on solutions. If you keep focusing on the problem (which is what angered you in the first place), it will be very hard to stay calm because every time you think of the problem, you will be angered all over again.  Instead, purposely switch your focus on finding a solution to the problem.