We are often told to express our emotions fully, without restraint.
But when it comes to reactive anger, failing to rein it in could cost you your relationships, your opportunities, and even your mental health.
So let me off you 11 strategies for how to stop your reactive anger before it consumes your life.
Letting Go of Anger: 11 Strategies to Control Your Emotional Response
An emotional response isn’t as easy to handle and control as it sounds, especially your own. Here are 11 ways how you can let go of anger and frustration that has been hindering your growth.
#1 Consider Meditation
The world has come to realize the powers of meditation as it can go a long way in managing your anger. The more you are aware of a problem, the more efforts you are likely to put to overcome it. And meditation provides you with the control you have always desired.
Meditation is a proactive method of dealing with the situation where you work on yourself so that the situation does not arise at all, rather than finding ways to handle the situation. Meditation fills your mind with positive thoughts and keeps you focused on your goals.
#2 Work On Deep Breathing
Anger doesn’t only affect your mental health but also your body. High blood pressure and increased heart rates are signs that your body isn’t able to handle your reactive anger. Whenever you find yourself in such a fix, take a moment away from the situation and practice 5-10 minutes of deep breathing.
While you exhale, let go of the situation at hand and all the negative thoughts in your mind. Talk to yourself and develop positive thoughts while you inhale.
Repeat this cycle until you feel your heart beating normally and your emotions under control.
#3 Practice Forgiveness
We are often angry at someone else. Our anger issues are related to others around us. This can be a result of expectations as well. However, you must let go of this attitude.
Inspire yourself to forgive others for their mistakes. It will save you from mental trauma and frustration.
Read books or watch videos to train your mind for forgiveness. Do not let the actions of others define the energy you let into your aura.
Forgiving doesn’t just open up doors to developing relationships with others. It also helps you stay content with your own emotions.
#4 Be Aware Of Your Triggers
If you know what makes you angry, you can better make a conscious effort to stay away from those situations.
Review your past anger breakouts and study the reasons for them. Why did you burst out? What was the cause? Write down the situations along with the reasons and train your mind to avoid them in the future.
You will never have an exhaustive list, but practicing this proactive method for a year will give you considerable control over your reactive response.
#5 Take A Moment Before Responding To Situations
If you are being triggered too often or too soon, take a pause. Think before speaking and responding to people and situations. Play the consequences of your words in your head and see which one would serve you the best.
This is just like playing chess, where you anticipate future moves. Having angry thoughts are natural, but these thoughts mustn’t conceive harsh words in your mouth, and taking a pause breaks this connection between your tongue and brain.
Because your anger is reactive, this can be very difficult to do in the moment. So a good way to practice is to take a moment before responding to any situation.
Your spouse asks you what you want for dinner? Your friend invites you to play an online game? Your kids ask you to go outside with them?
Practicing slow deliberation in seemingly mundane situations will help you develop the habit when it comes to the more emotional ones.
#6 Seek Professional Help
Sometimes, things might get a little out of hand. Look for the signs near you. Are you losing your temper too often? Are the people living with you having a tough time handling your anger issues?
It might be time to seek some professional help. Shun the stigma around mental therapists and psychologists before visiting them and accept the fact that you need help.
#7 Try The Writing Technique
Whenever you are going through one of your anger sessions, sit down and write everything on a piece of paper. Why are you angry? Who are you angry with? Write down all that you feel. And then burn that paper down. Seems absurd, right? But surprisingly, it works like magic.
See your anger melt as you stare at that paper burning to ash. This technique is born of the philosophy that one shouldn’t suffocate in anger but vent it out. It helps you control your frustration rather than bury it.
#8 Try The Year Down Technique
About 90% of your anger issues are short-term and do not last for more than half a day, but can create long-term impacts on your mental health and relationships. Here is where you can use the year-down technique.
Think whether this situation at hand (to which you are about to react) would matter to you after a year. Would it make a difference in your life? Mostly the answer would be NO because these reactive response situations are all short-lived.
Make a conscious effort to draw your attention to this fact every time you face your trigger.
#9 Accept That You Have An Anger Problem
A basic proactive rule of solving any problem is accepting that a problem exists. Many people hide in veils and find excuses to justify their emotional anger, rather than accepting that it was needless and there might be an anger issue.
Accept that there is a problem that you need to work on. Do not run away from this, but rather face it. Until and unless you accept the problem, none of these solutions will work for you.
#10 Break The Trigger
Once you are aware of your trigger situations, you must distract yourself from the scenarios. Even when you have encountered a trigger, stop and break the chain.
Do something that distracts you from the situation. Take a cold shower, listen to some calm music, go for a run or play a game. The idea is not to allow your mind the time to dwell on the problem.
One might say this is a way of escaping your emotions, but it is simply a way of keeping your frustration under check so that you can come back with a clear mind.
#11 Practice Silence
The problem doesn’t start with the spawn of angry thoughts. It starts when your tongue vents out these thoughts. It becomes a threat to your child and family and you might end up losing people in the long run.
So, whenever you anticipate an angry fit coming, do not let your tongue loose. Practice silence. Many people are under the impression that a silent person is the guilty one and thus end up blabbering to prove a point. It goes on to worsen the situation. An effective way to cool things down is not to react at all.
Common Questions About The Psychology of Anger
It is natural to feel angry, we were born with this emotion and thus there is nothing to be ashamed about. However, too much of anything isn’t good for our health. The same goes for anger as well.
We need to understand the psychology of anger before we attempt to control it. Here are some commonly asked questions about it.
What Are The 3 Types Of Anger?
There can be many reasons as to why someone is angry and consequently there can be many types of anger. However, they can broadly be divided into the following categories:
- Passive anger: This is when people try to hide the fact that they are angry and attempt to behave in a normal manner. However, this leads to more irritability and annoyance. This can be a result of some long-term grudge one might be holding against someone, which bubbles up day by day.
- Reactive Anger: This is often seen in people who are very expressive about their emotions. Certain situations tend to trigger them which leads to an angry vent. This is mostly associated with short-tempered people who tend to lose their calm too soon.
- Aggressive Anger: Things might get out of hand under these situations. People tend to become hostile, both verbally and physically, and become a potential threat as they find it difficult to control their emotions. These people might need professional assistance to understand anger psychology and overcome it.
What Causes Reactive Behavior?
There can be various reasons leading to reactive behaviors. A short-tempered nature coupled with impulsiveness can contribute to worsening the situation.
When you react more than you respond, reactive behaviors are inevitable. It is just one more way that our brains attempt to make sense of complex emotion.
A past traumatic experience as a child can also be a probable cause of angry fits. Ego-clashes and the need to establish superiority can also lead to reactive behaviors. Anger is also seen as a way of venting out frustrations.
Whatever may be the cause, it needs to be identified so that you can implement a solution that works.
Signs Of Reactive Anger
Certain signs can alarm a person before the infamous storm of anger. Here at a few.
- Impatience at the smallest of things. If you are getting impatient too frequently, this might be a sign that you are losing your cool.
- Low tolerance. If you observe that your capacity to tolerate adverse situations is on a decline, you need to pay careful of the consequences.
- Superiority complex. You believe that showing your anger is a way to affirm your superiority. This leads to deliberate displays of anger.
How Do I Stop My Reactive Anger?
I’ve outlined some of the best ways to control emotional anger in this post. Some may work for you. Others may not.
You will never know if you don’t try.
So test them out. But before you do anything else, stop and ask yourself How serious is my problem?
If it seems bigger than you can handle, or if you are worried you may be a threat to yourself or others, the best thing to do is seek professional help.
Are You Ready To Control Your Emotional Anger?
You are now well aware of both the existence and psychology of anger. It is now the test of your willpower. Are you willing to go the extra mile to counter your demons and evolve as a better person?
Take the first step by accepting the problem and then work positively to counter it. Let me know all about it in the comments!