Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. We all get angry sometimes, and for good reason. Anger can be an effective tool for advocating for yourself, expressing disapproval, and protecting yourself from harm. However, when anger gets out of control and turns destructive, or if it becomes ongoing, chronic anger can lead to problems—problems at work, in your personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life. And it can make you feel as though you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion.
If you’re someone who lets anger control you, then this article is for you! Learn how to control your anger by following these 10 tips:
1. Don’t Let Your Emotions Rule You; Learn to Rule Your Emotions!
Many people have a hard time accepting that their emotions rule them, rather than the other way around. It’s okay if you have difficulty with this at first because it takes time and practice to learn how to control your emotions. In fact, many people never learn how to manage their anger or anxiety effectively because they don’t know where those feelings come from.
If you’re having trouble managing your emotions, try focusing on identifying what triggers them for yourself and make adjustments in your life accordingly so that it doesn’t happen again! For example, you may find that being around certain people causes anger in you when there was no reason before (like maybe they were just being rude). To avoid getting angry again next time just try avoiding those people altogether! Or, in the many circumstances where that may be impossible, work on your thinking, as well as your communication skills, so you can better deal with these people without them making you angry.
2. Make an Appointment with Yourself
Set aside time to think about your anger, and write down what you’re feeling. This may seem like a silly or unimportant step, but it’s important to have a clear idea of what exactly is making you angry before trying to control it. So take some time out of your day (or night) when no one else will be around, sit down somewhere comfortable and just breathe for a moment. Once you’ve done that, write down everything from the smallest irritation to the most traumatic event that’s bothering you at the moment. Letting those feelings come out onto paper in writing can help them become less overwhelming and make it easier for us to deal with them later on in life when we’re ready for action instead of reaction!
3. Take a Time-Out
When you’re angry, the best thing to do is to take a break from whatever is making you angry. What do I mean by that? Well, if it’s something like your boss being mad at you for some reason or another, try leaving the room and going somewhere else for a few minutes. It will allow you to cool off before trying to solve the problem again. If possible, try using this time for relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation (which can be very helpful with anger).
4. Practice Breathing Exercises
Deep, cleansing breathing is a great tool for calming down and regaining control when you feel like you’re about to explode. The next time you feel yourself getting angry, try these breathing exercises:
- Take a few deep breaths to relax your body and mind.
- Exhale through your mouth as if blowing out candles on a birthday cake or balloons at a party.
- Inhale deeply through your nose while counting to three. Hold the breath in for another three counts before exhaling slowly through pursed lips. Repeat this pattern until feelings of anger have dissipated completely (or at least until they’ve subsided enough that it’s safe for you to continue interacting with others).
5. Write a Letter
It can be very helpful to write an angry letter to the person who has angered you… but not for the person to see. Write down everything that is bothering you and all of your feelings about what has happened. Include when and where it happened, how it made you feel and if there was anything specific about the situation that bothered you. And don’t hold back. The more venom you get in your letter, the more it will help you to diffuse the anger that prompted the letter!
Once the letter is complete, destroy it! Don’t leave it around where it can cause more problems. If you find the anger building again, you can write another letter. But you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much calmer you feel once you’ve gotten that anger out. If you feel that you still want to let the person know why you’re angry, you may now choose to write a calmer, more constructive letter.
6. Learn to Share Your Feelings with Others
Sharing feelings is an important part of the process of learning to control anger, but it’s not always easy. When you feel angry, it’s easy to want to keep those feelings inside instead of discussing them with someone else. When you try speaking about your anger, however, there are several benefits:
- You can learn more about what triggers the feeling and how it makes you behave when triggered.
- You can identify ways in which you might handle things differently in the future. Your goal is not just managing anger; it’s also changing behaviors that may not be working well for your relationships or making life easier overall.
- You can learn, calmer, more helpful ways of expressing your dissatisfaction, and hopefully work together with the person you’re sharing with to improve the situation.
Identifying what’s going on inside helps other people understand where they fit into how we experience our lives overall—and how they might help us change ourselves for the better!
7. Develop Better Communication Skills
When you are frustrated, you may have a tendency to lash out at those around you. This can be harmful and hurtful to the people around you, especially if they are not at fault for your anger. To avoid this problem, try to communicate more clearly with others before letting your emotions get the better of you. You can do this by asking them questions or giving them time to respond rather than shouting at them right away. This will make it easier for everyone involved in an argument, as well as helping to keep tensions down during heated moments of frustration between two people.
Many times people are angry at something that has nothing to do with the person they are taking their anger out on. For example, have you ever had a bad day at work and when you get home you take it out on your family? Try to take a breath, let your loved ones know you had a bad day, and ask them to give you some time alone to gather your thoughts and feelings. This will give you time to calm down and help them to understand that your anger is not about them.
8. Be Assertive, Not Aggressive
The assertive individual expresses his or her feelings, thoughts, and desires in a direct manner, but without any intention of hurting someone. The aggressive person is more confrontational and can be intimidating because he or she attacks others with loud words and/or physical force. Assertiveness allows you to get your point across without causing anyone else harm. It’s important not to confuse assertiveness with aggression so that you can practice this skill appropriately.
As an example of being assertive, imagine that someone cuts in front of you at the grocery store checkout line just as it’s your turn to pay for your items. You might say something like, “Excuse me, I was next.” This is a more effective way of getting your point across without being aggressive about it.
9. Get Physical Exercise Regularly
Regular physical exercise can really help you to deal with anger. Use whatever form of exercise you choose. By doing this, you will feel better about yourself, you’re doing something to help your health, and you’ll also be better able to diffuse your anger. You will also feel more confident in your ability to control your feelings, which will help you gain control over the anger problems that are affecting your life. So instead of letting out your aggression on someone else (or even seething with anger internally), try exercise to release your angry energy. It’ll help you both physically and mentally.
10. Talk to Someone
It can be very helpful to talk with someone close to you, such as a family member or friend. Talking about your anger can help bring up new ways of looking at things. It can also help you to feel understood, and less alone.
If you’re really struggling with anger and feel like it’s affecting your life, consider seeking professional help. There are many different types of professionals that can help with anger management issues, including therapists, counselors, and ministers. This list isn’t exhaustive but is a good place to start when exploring options in your area:
- Social worker
- Mental health therapist or counselor
If there aren’t any professionals in your area who specialize in anger management issues, consider seeking out support groups online or through community organizations near where you live. And look online. You may be surprised by how many wonderful resources you can find by doing this.
As you’ve seen, there are many ways to control your anger. What’s more important than the specific techniques you use is that you find ones that work for you—ones that allow you to express your feelings in a healthy way and stop them from getting out of hand. Remember, it’s not an easy or quick process; it takes time and practice to develop new habits to replace old ones. But if you stick with it, gradually over time your anger will become less spontaneous, less frequent, and less intense—and more controllable!
For Further Reading
Knaus, W. J. The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anger: A Step-by-Step Program for Success. Impact, Workbook Edition, 2021
Ellis, A. How To Control Your Anger Before It Controls You. Citadel; Reprint edition, 2016
Nixaly, L. Anger Management Journal: Identify Your Triggers, Change Your Outlook, and Manage Your Emotions. Rockridge Press 2021