Anger Management

Anger Management

Anger Mangement: It Takes Courage

Learning to respond rationally to an emotionally charged situation is often a challenge – it’s much easier to let ourselves get swept up in our feelings and not take the time to think about what we’re doing. Facing any challenging experience and responding to it in a way that you and others later view as inspiring, effective and positive requires courage. Here are some things that might help:

  • Consider responding with calm body language and confident silence as an alternative. This is a healthy method for making choices that will reduce anxiety and personal discord. Many men, in particular, feel like they have to appear strong and in control. However, managing your emotions by trying this alternative to aggression is an important first step in positive communication.
  • Take a deep breath. By slowing down and stepping away from the situation, there is time to think before responding. Too often people look back at situations full of regret for their actions, words, and responses. When we are highly upset, the frontal lobe, the part of the brain where rational thinking takes place is not engaged. Slowing down and breathing deeply allows our frontal lobe to re-engage and rational responses will be much more likely.
  • Watch and learn. Identify someone you know who handles conflict gracefully. Watch how they respond to a challenge. Notice the extent that their body language is relaxed and calm. Notice their facial expressions and tone of voice. Finally, notice their choice of words. This is a great first step in identifying the changes you need to make in your own emotional responses.
  • Self-monitor. Check in with yourself to see how you feel when choosing to regulate your response in a calm and controlled manner. Do you feel better? Is the outcome better? If the answer is yes, then keep enhancing and refining the process. Remember, managing emotions is a noble goal that starts with choosing a healthy and courageous way to respond to adverse situations.

Taking the first step is the hardest part, but experiencing even the smallest bit of success is reinforcing.  As new, healthier responses result in more positive outcomes, a sense of pride and confidence will grow.  In our society, aggression and overconfidence are often confused with courage. Some of the true components of courage include kindness, generosity, compassion, empathy, and accountability, all interwoven with healthy measures of being assertive. Courage is responding to a situation with confidence, knowing that being angry or hostile generates an unsatisfying feeling after the fact. Courage is not choosing the path of least resistance. Courage is the road less traveled.

Holding back, thinking, and processing our response can bring the sense of satisfaction that our response was measured, mature and dignified. Witnessing and experiencing ourselves managing emotions will generate feelings of confidence and satisfaction that we were not drawn into a position of losing our self-control. The old adage is true: “when you argue with a fool, two fools argue.”

Learning to regulate your emotions is a healthy choice. The practice of it is too often a missing ingredient in our culture. Imagine yourself managing your emotions in a challenging interpersonal situation. Imagine others witnessing your response and gaining insight that this may be the best approach to conflict. Imagine yourself as the model to others who in turn model it to even more people. This is how we change ourselves and our environment, and courage is the first step.