Different persons have different thresholds for anger depending on a person’s temperament and outlook to life. A person’s background and religious leaning also affect his/her response to provocation. Your ability to manage anger goes a long way in determining how people relate to you at home and at work; it also determines who your friends are. A family where members are tolerant of one another makes a desirable home.
The following steps are helpful in making you develop control over anger:
1. Restructure your thinking processes. How you think affects your behaviour because your thoughts form your beliefs. Your beliefs lead to conviction which shapes your attitude. Your attitude determines your perception and this defines your behavior. Avoid using words like “never” or “always” because they convey a sense of finality or hopelessness which tends to justify anger. When you tell your partner, “You always make me go late to functions,” in your mind, you think he/she will never change; therefore you are justified in getting angry. A better way of handling the issue is asking yourself, “How can I help him/her improve on getting ready on time,” you might discuss your concern with your partner at a time both of you are in good mood and agree on a plan of action to help improve on time-keeping ability.
Angry people tend to demand things as against desiring something. When you make demands and your wish is not granted, it tends to provoke anger. Rather than tell your partner, we must be at the meeting on time today, let him/her know your desire is that you will be on time at the meeting today. Also learn to focus on positive things because it will bring out the best behavior from you. Picture yourself relating to your partner for days on end without losing your temper and gradually you will achieve this goal.
2. Self-Talk. This is what you say to yourself when provoked. Statements like “a bad workman quarrels with his tools” when spoken to one’s self has a way of shifting the blame in a situation from the other person to yourself and in this way you silence the angry emotion.
3. Develop problem-solving skills. Learn to think through any problem; weigh the options, choose the best option of the solutions available and act on it. Some problems that do not have ready solutions might require you to adapt to them rather than getting angry that you have to confront them.
4. Develop relaxation coping skills. Angry outbursts are more common when you are tensed up or tired. The ability to relax and unwind after a difficult or tiring day helps in reducing your chances of letting out angry outbursts when provoked. Relaxation techniques include breathing in deeply and exhaling air slowly while at the same time saying a calming phrase such as “Come Lord Jesus”. You can also achieve relaxation through visualizing a relaxing experience created by you such as sitting by the seashore and observing tidal waves. Engaging in meditation of scripture verses also produces relaxation of the mind.
5. Recognize what triggers anger in you and prepare before encountering the situation. If it is traffic jam, prepare your mind that you will not curse any traffic offender while in a gridlock.
6. Develop coping skills such as parenting, budgeting and financial planning skills. Attending parenting classes would reduce your level of frustration in dealing with your children while getting assistance in handling your finances will also reduce your stress level.
7. Avoid situations that make you angry. If some persons make you angry by calling you unnecessarily, you can get another telephone number just to eliminate that source of provocation.
8. Avoid impulsivity. Think or pause before you act or say anything when you are provoked.
9. Keep the right company. Keep the company of people who will help you reinforce you decision to overcome the strong hold of anger in your life.
10. Ask for God’s grace. Hebrews 4:16 encourages you to ask for divine assistance when you desire to overcome a persistent challenge in your life.
11. Change your views about anger. Anger may be unavoidable in some situations but it is an inappropriate response in many situations. It is better to control anger than expressing it in most occasions. Situations very often reveal how much anger is pent up in you rather than being the source of your anger. Stop blaming and condemning others for your anger, rather be personally responsible for your actions.
12. Improve your communication and social skills. Learn to accept criticism in good faith rather than being defensive over every issue. Pause and think over your answer while talking; do not take issues personally. Always tell your self, the other party might be right and so there should be no grounds for anger. Take time to listen to what the other person has to say before jumping to conclusion. In this way, your interpersonal skills would be enhanced.
Dr Francis Edo Olotu is the Medical Director of Christ Hospital, Ondo. He is also a family counselor who regularly counsels married persons and administers pre-marriage counseling to couples about to marry in his