Control Anger

Ten steps to get your anger under control

1. Get a journal – a simple notebook is fine.

Describe your problem.  Is it about hatred, jealousy, fear, sadness, frustration, loneliness, self-hatred, or what?  Think about when the problems started. As well as you An angry young man writes in his journal.can, describe the causes of these emotions. The better you understand the causes, the more easily you can deal with them. If you can identify the experiences in your life that got you started on this path, you need accept the experience and forgive the people who did this to you.  Often, a child who experiences verbal or physical abuse becomes angry easily.

The man in the picture needs to control his anger. Last week he hit his girlfriend. She warned him she would break up with him if it ever happened again and she suggested he look at this website. He is now writing in his journal.

Pierce Howard (The Owner’s Manual for the Brain) suggests the following :

Make a list of your personal hot buttons — the words, phrases, actions, or situations that cause you to become angry or emotional. Determine in advance what you will do to alter your normal response the next time one of your hot buttons is pushed.”  p. 797

2. Once you have a good idea what is making you feel so angry, sad, jealous, frustrated…. , create your own personal plan to deal with the actual problem.  Include in your plan  Eating healthy meals, Getting enough sleep, (Sleep deprivation makes it hard to control emotions) and getting regular exercise. Regular exercise, especially strenuous exercise, has been shown to relieve stress and anxiety.  You should also Practice relaxation exercises. Look at the page on relaxation for detailed suggestions .

3. Take notes on how your feel and behave after making these changes. If you have close friends, you might talk to them about the problem and what you are doing about it. Supportive friends can be a big help.  You might ask your them to help by signaling when they sense you are beginning to lose control.

4. If someone else really seems to be causing your problem, find a way to avoid them. Be careful not to blame someone else for making you upset, making you act that way, especially if they are not intentionally provoking you.

You might ask yourself what could cause the other person to behave that way. Does he have low self-esteem? Does she have problems at home? Maybe her boyfriend has been abusing her physically or verbally. Most people don’t choose to be obnoxious. Sometimes, if you understand that the other person probably has a problem, you can be more understanding. You might be able to forgive them and accept their behavior without getting upset.

5. Most of the time, YOU are the problem. Understanding why your emotions erupt, why you lose your temper, why you get upset so easily, can help you begin to deal with it.

If the main cause of the problem is related to past experiences, tell yourself that those experiences happened a long time ago, that it is time now to let go of them and live in the present. We cannot change our past. We may not be able to forget. We can, however, choose to prevent it from controlling the way we behave now.

6. Try self-talk. Tell yourself several time each day that you have decided to change your behavior:

“I will not let other people control my behavior by making me angry” “I am in control of my life. I understand that when I get upset, I am letting someone else control my life.” “I am strong. I refuse to get upset. I won’t even feel upset. I won’t let little things bother me.”

Write a series of statements like this in your journal and repeat them many times a day. You might not believe them at first, but the more often you repeat them, the more you will find yourself believing what you say and beginning to  what you feel and how you behave.

7. Do not let anger and other emotions build up inside you. They will eventually explode.You need to find a way to express your anger in a controlled manner. Plan ways you can deal calmly with the problem or try to use humor.

I remember a student who was teased and harassed by other students. He was learning Spanish, and came up with a fine plan. He looked up words in his Spanish-English dictionary and created a long list of colorful insults. When his tormenters said anything annoying, he insulted them in Spanish in a very convincing manner and then laughed. His tormenters had no clue what he had said.

One of his favorites was “You have very smelly armpits!”  The students who were tormenting him didn’t understand Spanish and didn’t know how to respond. They soon turned their attentions elsewhere. My student no longer felt helpless. He had found a way to respond that did not involve anger. He almost looked forward to occasions when he could use his latest insult.

At home, I occasionally got angry at my son, especially after I’d had been dealing with difficult students in my class. One afternoon I came close to losing my temper. “If you do that again, Tony Fishel, I will …(I had to think quickly.)  I will give you a detention!”  We both laughed. But Tony got the point. I’d had a hard time at school and needed him to understand. I needed time to relax before he needed me to do whatever it was he wanted.

Both of these example show ways of responding in appropriate ways. Not knowing an acceptable  way to respond makes you feel helpless. The anger continues to build and you are likely to finally lose your temper.

8. If that doesn’t help, you should can explain to the other person how you feel. Do NOT say or do anything you will regret .Do NOT look or sound threatening. Do not blame them for what they did or said. You simply want them to understand how it makes you feel.  Face them and look them in the eyes and say “When you  do (or say)………….. ( whatever it is),  it makes me  feel ————.

For example:  “When you say that girl would never even talk to me, it hurts my feelings and I feel angry.

9. Continue writing in your journal. Describe situations where you managed to control your emotions, how you did it, and how you felt about afterwards.

If you do lose control, describe what happened. What made you lose control? How did you feel afterwards?  What would you do differently if you could start over? Would it help to apologize?  If you are still blaming the other person for your problem, you have a long way to go. Nobody but you controls your emotions and your actions. You need to accept responsibility for what you do.

10. If you feel guilty for the way you have treated other people, read the quotation below and try to forgive yourself. It is often helpful to approach those you have hurt and apologize.

 Control the dark parts of yourself and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness.                                                    — August Wilson

For further help in dealing with emotions and emotional problems see

Another good resource is

Dealing with anger by yourself  isn’t easy to do. You may still need to get professional help. The sooner you deal with the problem, the sooner you will be able to make improvements in your study habits and begin making grades. You will also increase you self-confidence and find that it easier to make friends. You will be more relaxed and enjoy yourself more.

Again, If you try these suggestions and nothing seems to help, If you cannot handle the problem by yourself, you need to get professional help.

Go the pages in this website  on  Managing Stress     and    Relaxation.

If you haven’t read it already, please read   Anger Management

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