Learn to manage your anger
Problems with anger are incredibly common – whether it’s being unable to express the angry things you think and feel, or being unable to control your temper. People who fall into the latter group and lash out all the time are called ‘exploders’, because they’re like walking time bombs, always ready to explode at the slightest provocation. And those in the former group, who tend to bottle their anger up, are called ‘imploders’ because they simmer with frustration and resentment but find it hard to express.
Being an exploder can be rough on those around you, as they feel the force of your temper day after day. It can also get you into a great deal of trouble with your manager and colleagues, your partner and even the police (our prisons are, sadly, full of exploders). Being an imploder is tough on your health and can cause depression, stress, anxiety and physical problems like ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome or even stroke and cardiovascular disease – either way, dysfunctional anger is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
If you have an anger problem, the first step is to realise that anger is a perfectly normal, natural, healthy emotion – just like love or fear. ‘Clean’ anger, expressed appropriately, is a good thing: it will make you feel stronger and more powerful, so you won’t get mistreated at work or in relationships. The next step is learning to be assertive rather than lashing out or swallowing your anger. There are plenty of excellent books on the subject, like Overcoming Anger and Irritability: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques, by William Davies.
You can also try this simple exercise. When someone does something that annoys or upsets you, wait till you’ve cooled off, then sit them down and tell them calmly and clearly what upset you and why (writing it down or practising it first in front of a mirror might be helpful). Don’t attack or blame them, just say something like, ‘When you did… it really made me feel…’
Try to let go of any expectations about their response, which may or may not be what you hoped for. Just listen without interrupting then, if necessary, say ‘I understand you see things differently, I’m just telling you it made me feel… Please don’t do it again.’ As with all new skills, practice will make perfect, so keep going until it’s comfortable – using the technique with your colleagues, boss and anyone else who upsets you.
Learning to be more assertive could transform your life, so do stick at it – even if it’s hard at first – and you should soon feel calmer, stronger and more in control.
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