3 things I do to gain control over my anger and stay calm in every situation
“You need to gain control over anger or else I am leaving with the kids”
That was my wife’s ultimatum. Don’t get me wrong here. I had never laid a hand on her out of anger but my anger manifested in different ways that I believe were equally toxic and detrimental to the relationship we shared.
I found it extremely difficult to gain control over anger. It consumed me whole and turned me into a person that even I could not recognize. My inability to gain control over anger had negatively impacted my business too.
I would run out of patience with my employees and lash out at them. My reaction was mostly disproportionate to the situation but when anger hovers over your head it can get difficult to think in rational ways.
Of course, I lost many business opportunities, the trust of my employees, and my finances suffered because of my lack of ability to gain control over anger.
“Disagreements are common in any relationship whether it is professional or personal. I can’t believe you actually fought with one of your biggest business partners.” when my wife gave me a reality check about my mistakes it would anger me even more. I would end up getting defensive and become passive-aggressive with her as well.
However, my anger crossed all limits when I hit a child in the park because he was apparently bullying my child. There is literally no justification for such an impulsive outburst of anger but in all honesty, I just could not control the frustration I felt at that moment.
I understood that the only way to gain control over anger and save my relationships and business was to take therapy support. I knew that there was something much deeper than anger because a lot of time I felt miserably alone and depressed.
Everything changed for me when I joined therapy. It was a safe space where I could openly show my vulnerability without feeling less of a man. Society may encourage us to cry or show our feelings but that is practiced only in theory.
When a man actually shows his emotions or his tears he is often labeled as weak, stupid, or a ‘little girl’
That is the unfortunate reality that we need to change. And therapy really helped me to modify my own negative mindset about mental health.
Most importantly therapy helped me to explore the depth of my anger, understand what fuels this anger in me that it becomes almost impossible to gain control over anger, and finally guided me to manage my emotions and impulsivity in healthier ways.
At present, I have a much calmer and more relaxed state of mind. Anger is a human emotion and it still comes but I know how to gain control over anger and communicate it in healthier ways.
Here are 3 things I do to gain control over anger and stay calm in every situation:
1. Understand ‘Why’ and ‘What’ Fuels Your Anger Will Help To Gain Control Over Anger
My therapist explained to me the anger iceberg. She showed me how anger is often the tip of the iceberg and there is a lot more that is submerged beneath it.
Anger at times is the mask we wear to hide emotions that can make us look ‘weak’ or vulnerable. For instance, I had suppressed a lot of sadness, guilt, and shame that stemmed from my unhealthy relationship with my father.
He was a perfectionist and demanded the same from me. When I could not reach his high standards, he would label me as ‘dumb’ or ‘good for nothing. No matter what I did I never felt that I was good enough for him.
The same perfectionism had been transferred to me. Hence, when my employees failed to meet the standards, I had set for them I would lash out instead of empathizing with them and guiding them on how they could improve.
In therapy, I learned how to break the toxic patterns of thinking and behaving that have been passed on from generation to generation. The key to doing that is to increase your self-awareness and be more mindful of how your actions affect others.
I can say with pride that I am learning how to empathize with others and take in their perspective too. It takes time to do that but with consistent practice, I was able to understand my triggers and manage them better to gain control over anger and respond to a situation instead of reacting to it.
2. Retract-Revaluate-Respond Strategy To Gain Control Over Anger
The most valuable and effective strategy that I learned in therapy was the three steps to gain control over anger.
Retract: When anger gets the best of you all logic and practicality go to the trash. At that moment you cannot think about anything else but the fact that you are angry and you need to take it out.
My anger has forced me to take many impulsive actions and reactions that I have deeply regretted. I have said awful things that have hurt others and words once said cannot be taken back no matter how many times you apologize.
Therefore, the best way to save yourself from being impulsive in anger is to take a step back. Either sleep on it or ask for some time off before you respond or take a decision about something.
I have combined this habit with breathing exercises. I make sure that I meditate for at least 5–10 minutes every day. When I face a triggering situation or when I can sense my anger boiling up, I take a few deep breaths and try to take a step back before responding.
Revaluate: When you take a step back from that difficult situation and view it objectively it becomes a lot easier to gain control over anger and focus on the solution rather than the problem.
The practice of revaluating a situation before reacting to it has helped me amazingly in my business decisions. Before I used to let my emotions take the lead but now, I have learned how to manage my emotions and communicate them in better ways.
Respond: The last step and the most crucial one is how you choose to communicate your anger. In therapy, I became aware of how anger is a natural emotion and needs to be channelized and demonstrated in effective ways.
We all get angry. That is common but what makes a difference is how you will communicate your anger. You can either get all heated up and lash out, you can gulp it all down and pretend like you are not angry at all or you can learn how to calmly communicate your feelings.
The last option can be super beneficial for your mental health and peace as well as for others around you.
3. It Is What It Is Mentality To Gain Control Over Anger
The most important but also the most difficult lesson that I learned from therapy is
‘I cannot control everything and everyone’
Sometimes it is needed to let go of certain things and just see how they go. My need for control would increase my frustration every time someone or something did not go my way.
I realized that the only thing I could control is my attitude and my response. Trying to exercise complete control over everything and getting infuriated was only harming my mental and physical health.
I am understanding how to develop the ‘it is what it is’ mentality and not take everything too personal to me.
It has helped me to stay relaxed, improve my mood and attract so much positivity in my life.