If you are easily upset, angry or worried, chances are that you often try to control your emotions but they just burst forth, drenching and even drowning you in their strong gush. We all have those moments when we feel like we just cannot deal with our feelings and life seems just too much to cope with. Everything from the demanding boss to the rebellious child to the overcrowded trains gets to you, rubbing you in all the wrong ways and you find yourself losing your cool.
How would you rather like to be? We would all like to be stronger and know better how control our anger. I’m sure that’s what you try to do every time too. However, more often than not, controlling anger is something that is easier said than done. How easy is it to keep calm and be rational when you feel like breaking things and screaming out or when you’re in the middle of a nervous breakdown?
Managing Anger by Recognizing your ‘Triggers’ : A Step by Step Technique
The first requirement in order to control anger better is knowing yourself better. You can then apply this knowledge and understanding to make life easier.
A very important and often overlooked aspect of learning to manage anger is understanding what it is that makes this management difficult in the first place. What is it that is agitating you so much? We all have triggers, those sore/touchy spots which always manage to rile us, so we need to learn to work our way through them. Imagine yourself covered with a whole lot of buttons. Whenever anyone pushes one of these it triggers a strong emotional reaction and you end up reacting badly, losing control. Dealing with this sensitivity would be a 3 step process:
1. Identify your triggers : What makes you Angry?
Doing the following exercise on paper would greatly help. Think back to the last few times you had an angry outburst and note:
– What caused it?
– What happened before it? What were the events leading upto it?
– What else happened that day?
– Who were the people involved in the conflict?
– How were u feeling?
Even if u cannot remember about the previous episodes, start making this list for the next few weeks. Patterns will emerge, providing you insight and access to your buttons.
2. Avoid your triggers
So now that you have identified what it is that irritates you so much, work your way around it. If the traffic gets on your nerves, leave early. You can use the extra time to finish pending work or catch up on your reading. If being late makes you anxious and irritable, learn to be punctual and avoid procrastinating. You will be able to keep your cool much more if you are relaxed. If it is your partner’s tendency to nag which is upsetting you, talk to him/her about it. Try to solve the issue. If your wife or parent is repeatedly asking you to get a task done, just finish it in the first time so you don’t have to listen to it again and again, you know you’re going to have to do it eventually.
3. Address Deeper Emotional Problems
If your anger seems to be stemming from deeper emotional issues, it needs to be addressed properly. If you see yourself getting angry when people don’t listen to you or don’t do as you want, check if you’re feeling disrespected or powerless. If you detest being told what to do, check for issues with authority. Do you find yourself thinking like ‘they always do this’, ‘he just doesn’t care’ or ‘why should I care when she doesn’t’? Most likely, you are storing past emotional hurt which gets relived on these occasions. It’s best to tackle such issues head on so they don’t have the power to affect you so much. While you can try to figure it out with a friend, guidance from elders in the family or even a counselor would help you greatly.
Your triggers may have contributed to your difficulties controlling anger. However, recognizing and dealing with them, patiently and with perseverance, can build your inner emotional strength, helping you handle anger healthily.
Post contributed by: Mahima Gupta (Psychologist, Inner Space, 2010-2012).