Anger is a normal, healthy emotion. If someone hurts you, a loved one betrays you or you have experienced some valid injustice, is it quite natural to become angry.
It is when angry outbursts are frequent and/or for insignificant things, that it can cause problems.
When your temper flares often, it can be damaging to your both your physical and mental health as well as your relationships.
A couple of weeks ago while waiting in a line of traffic at a red light, I took a moment to look at a new store that had just opened. When I looked back to the road, I realized that the cars in front of me had begun to move. As I started driving, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw that there was a car right behind me.
I was actually surprised because the driver didn’t even honk her horn. As I looked at her I surmised that she must be a calm and kind person. In my mind, I actually thanked her, because so often this is not the case.
Today I witnessed a very different reaction to a driving situation.
We were leaving a shopping center parking lot, when I saw a car pull out in front of another car. It didn’t look like they were very close to each other. My guess is that the first car did not see the second car pulling up. The driver of the second car obviously was not happy. He began to repeatedly honk his horn. He drove up very close behind the first car and then both cars turned onto a two lane exit. The second car pulled up next to the first and stopped. I could not see what transpired, however, I could guess that the driver of the second was expressing his displeasure in some manner. The driver of the second car may believe that the person in front of him deliberately pulled out and cut him off.
The two situations I described above are similar, however, the reactions of the people were very different.
If you just came from your yoga class you may be feeling very different then if you just left a stressful business meeting. Depending on how you are feeling on a particular day, your reaction may vary.
Often it is how we perceive the situation can make us feel angry.
If the person in the second situation is saying things such as, what a jerk, he pulled out right in front of me. People always pull out in front of me. These kind of statements are going to fuel the anger.
Here are three tips to help you keep calm in situations:
Relaxation - This actually needs to be done ahead of time. Practicing relaxation on a regular basis can be helpful so that when frustrating situations arise, it is easier to get your body in a comfortable state.
Self-talk - Notice what kinds of things are you saying to yourself in the situation. How are you interpreting the event? Often people blame others for how they feel when actually we do have a choice about how we feel. You may mind read, thinking you know the that the person deliberately did something to you. Using words like always, everyone and never is overgeneralizing and can cause you to come to an inaccurate conclusion that ultimately causes you distress.
Exercise - Like relaxation, regular exercise can help. You can also use exercise in a preemptive way. If you know you are going to be in a stressful situation where you know you may get angry, going for a walk or taking a class at the gym can release some of the pent up energy.
You may find you get a bonus, as studies have shown that walking can have a positive effect on thinking and creativity.
Often the major anger outbursts are from an accumulation of anger over the years. There is a way to release this old anger.
About the author: Tish Schuman, LPC, NBCCH a Licensed Professional Counselor and Hypnotherapist, is the owner of Calm Pathways Counseling located in Mt. Laurel, NJ. Using an innovative approach which includes Ericksonian Hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming, she has helped many people to get relief from anxiety and related issues and find joy and calm in their lives. Click below to follow her on Facebook and Twitter.