Tips on Managing Your Anger

A demanding boss, an unsympathetic significant other, line-cutters, inconsiderate drivers...the list goes on and on.

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It's no secret that anger doesn't help anyone, especially you. Anger has been shown to lead to a higher incidence of heart disease and other health problems. Part of the problem is that we're misinformed about the best way to handle our anger.

Today, try these techniques to make a change

Do the Opposite

Research has found that "letting it rip" with anger actually escalates anger and aggression and does nothing to help you resolve the situation. In general, to cope with an emotion, you have to do the opposite. The opposite of anger isn't to withdraw or lash out, but to develop empathy. So instead of swearing at the guy who cut you off, think that maybe there's a reason he did so -- like, he just got a call that his wife is in labor or his son got hurt in his soccer game. It helps to remind yourself that few people are jerks on purpose. Getting angry just forces you to justify your actions, so you act out to make sense of how crazily you just acted.

Find Your Pattern

Keep thought records with no censorship of all the emotions you feel (and why) during the day. This helps you identify and find a pattern in the core beliefs that are associated with your anger. Do you get angry at a lack of respect, or wasted time, or insults?

Do Push-ups

Somehow, you do have to acknowledge that you are experiencing a physiological response to your anger. Telling yourself to "stay calm" is one of the worst things you can do (second only to being told to "calm down"), because we're supposed to act out when we feel threatened and are angry. So act out in a way that doesn't burn bridges -- it burns calories. Do push-ups, stretches, deep breathing or go for a walk. This dissipates the physiological burden of anger.

Choose Smart Words

Be careful of words like "never" or "always" when talking about yourself or someone else. "You never listen to me!" or "You're always forgetting things!" are not only inaccurate, they serve to make you feel that your anger is justified and that there's no way to solve the problem. They also alienate and humiliate people who might otherwise be willing to work with you on a solution. Another important distinction is making sure that you have realistic expectations -- and are not blaming yourself for things that aren't under your control, with a string of "woulds," "coulds," and "shoulds."