Coping with Unwanted Anger – 3 Simple Strategies

By Sharon Moore on August 29, 2012

At some point in our lives, we all become like Dr Bruce Banner, the incredible Hulk. We get too angry and become too powerful that we almost could carry the entire building and throw it into the face someone we’re angry at and crush them like ice. But anger doesn’t do any good because in the first place, it doesn’t even address the issue at hand. So before you get carried away and turn green like Hulk, it’s time that you learn the art of dealing with unwanted anger.

David Burns, the author of the seminal self-help book Feeling Good, has simple strategies to defy unwanted anger and become more in control of your feelings and emotions. According to him, these steps can take away the anger in seconds, and if you’re very angry, in minutes. But to succeed, you have to be sufficiently motivated to perform said strategies. Otherwise, you’ll end up being a loser of your own emotion.

To strengthen your motivation, Burns pointed out some benefits of being able to overcome unwanted anger. First, it gives you an instant reward of feeling “morally superior” over someone you’re angry at. It also prevents the onset of anxiety, depression, extreme loneliness and other mental or behavioural problems. By relieving anger, you gain more control of yourself and keep the balance that is usually alienated when you’re extremely mad.

First step – relax.

How could you relax in the middle of a stressful situation? How do you relax when someone is throwing hurtful words at you? When you’re angry, relaxing is the least thing that would probably come to your mind. But it’s actually the best way to prevent yourself from doing or saying things that will make you regret in the end. Whether it’s listening to music, doing some breathing techniques, taking a cold shower, sleeping, meditating, or taking a walk somewhere down the road – doing things that can calm you down when you’re angry is very, very helpful.

Burns suggest visualising yourself in a “beautiful” place. Imagine you are in the beach watching the sun as it sets or lying on the bed of roses. Get carried away with your imagination until your mind and body could no longer distinguish the dream from what is real. As soon as you find yourself breathing properly and feeling calmer, it’s time that you go back to the present situation. At this point, you are in a better position to think more intelligently.

Second – analyse the situation.

Once you regained your composure, it’s time to look back and analyse the situation, gain a deeper understanding and learn from it. Burns suggest you answer the following questions – did he or she really mean what I heard them say? Is this situation really as terrible as it feels now or am I just possibly exaggerating my feelings? Is it possible to focus my attention on what’s good about this person rather than what’s bad? Can I look at the situation on that person’s point of view? If this person is being mean, nasty or inconsiderate, can I remind myself that it isn’t really my problem but theirs?

Third – forgive.

No way, but yes you may want to do it. It may feel very unfair on your part especially if you’ve been hurt too much or felt you’ve been taken for granted. But forgiveness gives you peace of mind and freedom from anger, hatred, and resentment that are hindering you from being happy. 

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