Taming Your Inner Hulk When Things Go Wrong
Your child throws a massive temper tantrum at the worst possible time. Your partner hurts you with an insensitive comment. A coworker takes credit for your idea. So many situations can cause your blood to boil, but holding onto those negative feelings can be harmful in many ways. Learning to forgive and let go of the anger helps you live a happier life with less stress.
What Is Forgiveness?
It's much easier to let go of anger if you can learn to forgive. Forgiveness means you make the decision to release the hurt, anger, resentment and desire for revenge. Forgiving doesn't mean the person gets off free and clear, and it doesn't mean you're condoning the action. You simply rid yourself of the negative feelings, so you can go on with your life.
Find an Effective Relaxation Technique
Once you start to get mad, anger tends to build. It's easy to feel anger that's disproportionately greater than the problem. Recognize the early signs that you're getting angry, and learn some relaxation techniques that can stop the anger in its tracks. What works for someone else may not calm you down at all, so experiment with different ideas.
Some relaxation techniques include:
- Breathing exercises
- Repeating mantras
- Listening to music
Reframe the Situation
When anger strikes, words and actions can turn negative and lack of perspective takes over. One little thing that makes you angry suddenly ruins your entire day. Reframing how you think about the situation can help you stay realistic about what is happening. A good way to approach situations that make you angry is to stop using words like "never" and "always"—words that fuel anger. "My husband never helps out at home." It makes it easy to get instantly irate at him for even a small mistake.
If you notice yourself spiraling out of control, stop and rethink the situation. Acknowledge your feelings, but focus on being more positive. Tell yourself that, although you have every right to be upset, you're going to dig in and fix the problem. Or, simply compare this minor problem to the other good things in your life.
Put Thought Into What You Say
Anger clouds your mind and makes it easy to say things you later regret. Stop yourself before saying something to the person who has angered you. Think about how your words might affect that person. If you tell your child she is lazy and irresponsible because you're angry that she doesn't clean her room, those words can affect her self-image.
Let the other person know how you feel once you're calm enough to express your thoughts in a less destructive way. Express yourself with "I" statements. It's easy to make accusatory comments like, "You always leave me to do everything myself." Try to focus on how you feel. Say, "I feel angry when you don't help out around the house."
Remove Yourself From the Situation
You send your toddler to "time out" when he needs it. Why not send yourself? You don't have to sit in the naughty chair or stand in the corner, but removing yourself from the situation temporarily can give you a chance to cool your head and deal with the situation in a healthy way.
If your coworker drops the ball on a work assignment, take an early lunch break so you can clear your thoughts. If you have a disagreement with your husband, go for a walk or grab dinner with a girlfriend. When you return to the situation, you may feel refreshed and ready to work on the problem in a positive way.
Focus on Solutions
Being angry is a natural response, but it doesn't fix the situation. It can leave you feeling worse or even escalate the situation. Instead of focusing on how frustrated you are, think about how you can remedy the problem. If your child throws a temper tantrum and tosses her things around her room, give her time to calm down before having her put her room back together. If your husband spends money recklessly, sit down together to look at the budget, so he understands the effects of his actions. Coming up with solutions makes the situation better and helps you channel your anger into something productive.
Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.