As a psychologist, I hear from my clients about how they find themselves insulting those around them because their nerves are so tense. Feeling scared, irritable, or sad is very uncomfortable. Verbal and physical actions can provide a temporary sense of relief, but ultimately it harms our relationships and those we care about and makes us feel even better. worse than.
While it’s difficult to stop pain from turning into anger, we can change the way we react to our emotions. Here are five strategies I share with my clients:
1. To act kind, start with compassion
Good people feel bad about hurting loved ones when they explode, leading to feelings of shame. And in turn, shame leads us to bury our heads in the sand to avoid dealing with reality. So first you need to accept that all human beings are fallible. That will help with the rejection.
List the specific consequences of angry behaviors for the people in your life. If you’re not sure how your actions affect others, ask them. Then check with yourself. How do you feel after losing your temper? Are you achieving your goals by acting this way? Are these angry behaviors consistent with the person you want to be a partner, friend, parent, boss, co-worker, neighbor, or relative?
The answer will tell you how much damage you have caused both to others and to yourself. It’s important to keep this in mind when embarking on behavior change.
2. Identify triggers and deal with underlying emotions
Take an inventory of typical situations where you blow up. Are you most vulnerable at the end of the day – when you come home hungry and exhausted? Does your Achilles heel hurt from rejection? Maybe your spouse’s more permissive parenting style makes you worry about your children being heavily criticized.
It is helpful to recognize your triggers so that you can avoid or modify these contexts. For example, take a break from discussing difficult topics at home if you tend to feel stuck and blown up there. Instead, have a rough chat with your partner during a walk. Or ask your roommate to give you some space when you’re feeling down if their intrusion tends to make you uncomfortable.
3. Pay attention to early physical signs of anger
This is the crux of how to stop lashing out in the meantime. Focus on what’s going on in your body when you start your anger wave. Each stage of anger begins with a fight-or-flight response. Do you have tightness in your chest or abdomen? Feeling blushing? Are you grinding your teeth or wrists? Dry mouth? Heart attack? Find out which sensations tend to come up first.
If you can’t stay with the wave without getting hit, try the next two strategies first.
4. Practice Substitute Behaviors
Instead of yelling, cursing, or getting angry, consider walking away from the situation. You’ll need to do that at the first sign of anger and should have a plan for how you’re going to defend yourself and where you’re going. Inform friends and family that you are dealing with your aggressive behavior and that you may leave the situation abruptly. Saying you need to go to the bathroom or make a phone call is always an easy way to get rid of yourself quickly.
Eventually, you’ll be able to engage in these calming strategies, even when in an anger-provoking situation.
5. Act against your urges
What to do if someone attacks you
You can be left out asking what to do when you realize you’re receiving someone’s anger. When someone snaps at you and you suspect they’re hurting underneath, calmly ask them what’s going on. If it only increases their angry behavior, interrupt and don’t start over before they’re ready to talk without lashing out.
If you feel frustrated and angry at their anger and feel the urge to respond in kind, use the strategies above to stop yourself. No discussion is productive while everyone is flying out of hand.