In Part 2 of our anger management series, we focused on how to diffuse the anger bomb in the moments leading up to a possible explosion.   In Part 3 of this series, we will focus on tips and strategies to help you lessen that heightened anger response and reduce your need to employ the strategies we discussed in part two.   If you commit to the process, you will see a dramatic decrease in both the quantity and intensity of your anger response.

  1. Determine if you need to seek help. Some of us cannot grapple with our anger demons alone, and would be best served to seek the help of a professional.  Take stock of your life and the role your anger plays in it.  Is it destructive? Is it severe?  Does it destroy relationships?  Does it rule your life?   How often are you very angry?  Do you feel out of control much of the time?  Ask your friends and family, people you trust to be honest with you, whether they think you should seek help.  Remember, you are not your anger.  If you do, in fact, need help, it does not mean there is something wrong with you.  It simply means that, for whatever reason, you have not yet learned how to effectively deal with what is otherwise a natural, normal emotion, and that you need a little help to do so.
  2. Keep an anger log. Log every time you get angry, and the situation or person that angered you.  This will give you clues as to what your particular anger triggers are.  If something consistently angers you, you can set up your life to avoid that trigger as much as possible.  For instance, if your anger is constantly triggered by your teenaged son’s messy room, keep the door shut.  If you don’t see it, it won’t anger you.  Or, if you consistently become infuriated in rush hour traffic and have to commute to work every day in that traffic, consider taking the train instead, or carpooling with someone who does the driving half of the time for you.
  3. Stop demanding, start desiring. People who are chronically angry tend to demand things such as fairness, appreciation, and the willingness of others to do things their way.   Most people want these very same things and feel hurt and disappointed when they don’t get them.  But, there is a difference between wanting / desiring and demanding.  When angry people demand, their hurt and disappointment quickly turns into anger.  No one will ever be able to give you exactly what you need in the exact moment you need it, every single time.   That unrealistic expectation and demand is what sets you up for your anger response in the first place, rather than the normal emotions of hurt and disappointment.
  4. Practice gratitude. It’s hard to be angry when you are grateful.   A gratitude practice will go a long way to help you feel less angry.  Oprah is famous for her gratitude journal and talks about it a lot because it is a powerful tool.  Make it a daily practice to write down five things you are grateful for that day.  It teaches your mind to look for what you can be grateful for as you go through your day.  It can be something as simple as the great piece of fish you had for dinner or something that cuts a little deeper like the health of your child.  A mind with that type of focus will be much less likely to get caught up in the common, daily struggles of life that can cause a person with anger issues to explode.  
  5. Practice forgiveness. Harboring grudges and holding on to past wrongs is a sure fire way to stay in anger mode.  We are human and we make mistakes.  Often, it is our mistakes that lead to our greatest growth.   If someone hurts you or wrongs you, forgive and let go, for your sake as well as theirs (after you’ve calmly stated your concerns and grievances of course).   It’s toxic to hold onto grudges and will make you anger more easily. 
  6. Practice the art of listening. Too often, miscommunication and misunderstanding are the culprits of our anger triggers.  That is why it is so important to hone your listening skills.  When someone is speaking to you, really dial in on what they are saying, rather than preparing your own response or focusing too much on how they are saying it.  (This especially applies in arguments because people often don’t say things in the best possible way when they are angry.)  A good technique to employ is to immediately reflect back what you just heard someone say.  That way, if you got it wrong, they have the opportunity to correct it and you don’t risk getting angry for no reason.
  7. Live each day as if it was your last. Very often, the things that trigger an anger response are pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things.  If you consciously live each day knowing that you are not guaranteed another, you won’t get caught up in the little, everyday grievances.  Instead, you’ll get caught up in the everyday, breathtaking beauty that we too often take for granted, such as the smile of someone we love, the kindness of a stranger, the beauty of a blue sky, and music of laughter.