If simply reading this title makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, you’re not the only one. The very thought of somebody saying or doing something that antagonizes us can send even the toughest among us into a tailspin.
I think we can all agree that anger really isn’t a constructive emotion. While it may feel indulgent and gratifying to succumb to some pent-up rage momentarily, the after-effects of giving in to your aggression can be devastating to more than just your blood pressure levels.
The way you handle yourself in sticky and potentially provocative interactions affects your relationships, how others view you, and ultimately how you feel about yourself.
Because as tempting as it may be to fly off the handle, deep down you’ll know that being reactive and letting your impulses take control of you isn’t an effective form or communicating, or the way we wish to be remembered.
We’ve all heard the old adage recommending we “just take a deep breath” when we start to see red... And while this may be a lovely sentiment, it doesn't reach deep to address the origins of our agitation; nor is it really allowing us the opportunities for self-reflection and personal development that can be garnered from these interactions.
So before you lose your cool, blurt out something you might regret later on, or lash out at the next person who sparks a fire in your belly... Let’s deconstruct the process of anger and talk about how we can turn this potentially prickly situation into (believe it or not!) a positive experience of self-awareness, by adopting new thought processes to guide you away from your vitriol and back toward feeling centered again.
Ratcheting down our anger levels a notch can be as simple as putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Very rarely does reacting in anger actually contribute to the objective we’re trying to achieve, so use these thought processes to help you simmer down and step away from the overwhelming desire to escalate a situation:
Try to Put Yourself in Their Shoes
- Did they mean for what they said to come out that way?
- Are they really trying to insight a reaction of anger in you?
- Are they frustrated with themselves that they’re not able to communicate with you as effectively as they’d like?
- Perhaps they’re just having a bad day?
- If I was in their position, would I have really approached this interaction differently, or was this the only clear path for them?
- Do they raise any valid points I can learn or evolve from?
- Maybe they made a mistake and they're feeling embarrassed, and are trying to deflect the attention away from their misstep by distracting you with something unrelated?
There may be some factors affecting your ability to stay calm, that originate within yourself. While our emotions are primarily there to protect us, some unproductive feelings like anger and jealousy are not self-serving, and sometimes our ego creates narratives to distract us from the real substance of what’s actually happening.
Try looking inward, to see if that temptation to revert to anger is really going to help your mental state or your relationships in the long run:
- Maybe this thing that’s making me feel irritated or downright mad right now doesn’t really affect me and my peaceful enjoyment of life?
- It’s not all about me. The decisions others make can seem like they’re having a gigantic impact on us, but do they really?
- We’re all entitled to our own opinions. I know I am, so why shouldn’t others be entitled to theirs too?
- Is there any reason why we can’t have a difference of opinion on this topic and still maintain a healthy relationship?
- Can I be less intimidating, thus making them feel more comfortable so they’re actually able to engage in a calm discussion with me, in the hopes of reaching a mutual agreement?
As unpleasant as they may be, interactions or situations that insight anger in us can be great opportunities for personal discovery, building rapport with others, educating our opponent on a bigger-picture perspective that includes your own viewpoints, and allowing yourself to be open to new ideas. It’s all about attitude, as with all things in life:
Explore Possibilities for Good Come of This
- Do I need to step away and compose myself for a moment, so I can approach my emotions from a constructive viewpoint?
- Can I help expand their mind by communicating with them calmly and effectively, and letting them understand things the way I see them?
- Can we strengthen our relationship when I don’t react in anger, but actually create an environment between us for open, loving communication?
- Can I feel the deep self-satisfaction when I successfully control my knee-jerk reaction, and discover new ways to approach sticky situations in life?
- Can I use this as a character-building exercise, and arm myself better with coping strategies for difficult situations in the future?
By reassessing the way we look at our anger and where it truly comes from, we afford ourselves opportunities to critically examine what provoked us in the first place, and try to see things from a sunnier perspective.
Anger is usually a result of our negative assumptions or assessments of situations… So next time you’re feeling your blood start to boil, try referring back to these helpful mental techniques to help squash the most powerful of your emotions, stopping your anger in its tracks.
You’ll discover impactful insights within to diffuse your irritation, and take the edge off even the most provocative impasses that would usually make your toes curl! Bring yourself back to center, and be the best version of yourself. You truly deserve it.
Here’s to staying cool, calm and collected, no matter what life throws our way!
Incense Falls | Author
P.S. Don’t forget to keep your everyday stress levels in check, to give yourself a fighting chance at combating anger before it takes the driver’s seat! Meditation while enjoying the soothing scent of incense always brings me back to center, so light up your favorite Incense Falls Incense Cones and watch your tension drift away with the cascading curls of smoke.