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Anger is a normal, healthy emotion that all of us feel from time to time. However, the way we deal with anger (and conflict) has a large influence on our relationships, work and the achievement of our goals. For most of us, our anger management skills can do with a little work. Hence, the aim of this article is to provide seven simple steps to manage anger more effectively.Step 1: Identify your anger triggers
The first step is to understand what situations commonly trigger anger for you. For example, you may find every time you talk to your partner about a certain topic you get angry and it ends in an argument or when plans don’t turn out as you had hoped that you get frustrated and annoyed. Once you know common situations that trigger anger you can learn to interrupt the chain of events that unfold.Step 2: Practice relaxation or deep breathing
Our body has a normal physiological reaction to the thoughts the fuel our anger such as our heart racing faster, temperature rising and other signs that our body’s nervous system has been aroused. Engaging in a regular relaxation or deep breathing practice can help you learn to stay calm in difficult situations. There are many good books, CD’s and courses you can take to learn relaxation and deep breathing.Step 3: Understand how thoughts fuel anger
Situations do not cause our feelings – it is the thoughts we have about different situations that affect how we feel. For example, there are several potential thoughts you could have if someone pushes in front of you while you are waiting in line; you could think “how dare they that is so rude, that person doesn’t care about anyone else, don’t they realise how long I have been standing here” or you could think “oh that’s annoying” or you could think “maybe he has kids waiting outside screaming for him to take them home”. Despite it being the same situation, each type of thought will lead to a different type of feeling.Usually our thoughts become exaggerated and more extreme when angry and there are some common thoughts that tend to drive persistent feelings of anger:
• We misinterpret the intentions of others, assuming there is malicious intent behind their behaviour;
• We use words like “always” and “never” (e.g. he always does this to me);
• We think that we have been treated unfairly or been treated poorly;
• We believe we have to do something to make sure it stops or doesn’t happen again.Step 4: Develop cognitive flexibility
Assumptions about others intentions fuels our anger yet in reality it is impossible to know others intentions, we can only guess. So why not change the guesses we make? A good trick to managing anger is to practice considering different options of what the other person involved could have been experiencing.Step 5: Learn to tolerate unfairness
Sometimes things in life are unfair or people behave in ways that are wrong. But, we can choose whether or not we get angry about it. In these situations, learning to accept and tolerate that the world does not have to be fair is helpful for reducing anger. Choose that your happiness is more important than needing to right the wrongs of the world. Does this mean you never speak up about things you believe are wrong or become a doormat to others? NO! Rather, learn to identify the things that are worth your time, energy and sanity to do something about and those that are not because they only fuel your anger or cause conflict in your life.Step 6: Drop the antagonistic behaviour
Often when angry, we respond in an antagonistic way—we make a sarcastic comment, speak up aggressively or yell at the person. Antagonistic behaviour increases our feelings of anger because it tends to antagonise others, and their counter-response fuels our anger further. Also, despite the popular idea that “letting off steam” reduces our anger, the research shows that antagonistic behaviour actually leads to greater arousal. Hence, it is crucial to learn to respond to feelings of anger in a non-antagonistic way.Step 7: Choose your battles!
Start choosing your battles more objectively. Rather than taking a moral stance, focus on the practical consequences of responding; is it more effort to actually do something about it than let it pass; how much time and energy does it drain. Consider your happiness, relationship, health, wellbeing, time, and energy. What are the overall costs and benefits of responding to this trigger? Lastly, ask yourself whether you are trying to influence something over which you really have little control. For example, you cannot make someone do something they don’t want to do.www.activ8change.com.au.