By The Happy Guy (David Leonhardt)
"The other night I ate at a real family restaurant. Every table had an argument going." One of the biggest obstacles to personal and career success is anger. When we fail to control our anger, we suffer several blows:
- Anger impedes our ability to be happy, because anger and happiness are incompatible. - Anger sends marriages and other family relationships off-course. - Anger means lost business, because it destroys relationships. - Anger also means losing business that you could have won in a more gracious mood. - Anger leads to increased stress (ironic, since stress often increases anger). - We make mistakes when we are angry, because anger makes it harder to process information.
People are beginning to wake up to the dangers of anger and the need for anger management programs and strategies. Many people find anger easy to control. Yes, they do get angry. Everybody does. But some people find anger easier to manage than others. More people need to develop anger management skills.
For those who have a tough time controlling their anger, an anger management plan might help. Think of this as your emotional control class, and try these self-help anger management tips:
Ask yourself this question: "Will the object of my anger matter ten years from now?" Chances are, you will see things from a calmer perspective.
Ask yourself: "What is the worst consequence of the object of my anger?" If someone cut in front of you at the book store check-out, you will probably find that three minutes is not such a big deal.
Imagine yourself doing the same thing. Come on, admit that you sometimes cut in front of another driver, too ... sometimes by accident. Do you get angry at yourself?
Ask yourself this question: "Did that person do this to me on purpose?" In many cases, you will see that they were just careless or in a rush, and really did not mean you any harm.
Try counting to ten before saying anything. This may not address the anger directly, but it can minimize the damage you will do while angry.
Try some "new and improved" variations of counting to ten. For instance, try counting to ten with a deep slow breathe in between each number. Deep breathing -- from your diaphragm -- helps people relax.
Or try pacing your numbers as you count. The old "one-steamboat-two-steamboat, etc." trick seems kind of lame to me. Steamboats are not the best devices to reduce your steam. How about "One-chocolate-ice-cream-two-chocolate-ice-cream", or use something else that you find either pleasant or humorous.
Visualize a relaxing experience. Close your eyes, and travel there in your mind. Make it your stress-free oasis.
One thing I do not recommend is "venting" your anger. Sure, a couple swift blows to your pillow might make you feel better (better, at least, than the same blows to the door!), but research shows that "venting" anger only increases it. In fact, speaking or acting with any emotion simply rehearses, practices and builds that emotion.
If these tips do not help at all and you still feel you cannot manage your anger and the related stress, you may need some professional help, either in the form of a therapist specializing in anger management or a coach with a strong background in psychology.