I’ve recently developed a new outlook on anger.
I used to think that anger was an uncontrollable emotion. In the words of Tim McGraw, “I know how to hold a grudge. I can send a bridge up in smokes.” It’s funny, I seem to quote Tim McGraw often, but I only know three of his songs. They’re just really applicable, y’all. The point I’m trying to make is that I have a temper, as do all human beings. My temper is short and I am stubborn in always wanting to be right. These traits are ugly, but not too uncommon or inhumane. I’m a human being, I get mad. Simple as that.
The realization that I have come to in the past few months is that we can, in fact, control our anger. It is absolutely a difficult process that does not happen overnight. I have been working on being more in control of my anger and similar emotions. I’m still working on it, but I want to share with you my thought-process and progress (however small or incremental). I hope this tactic can help you all how it has helped me.
I’m somebody who feels things very deeply; I’m sensitive and I always have been. When something happens that sparks angry emotions in me, I cannot simply turn off the anger (as many people say you should do). I cannot deny my feelings, I just need to learn how to manage them when they come.
I have come up with a 4-step method for how I handle angering situations. By the way, I’m talking about your run of the mill angering situations like arguing with someone, or a work problem, or something like that – not huge problems like dealing with a death, a family issue, or something grave like that. This is for your non-life altering, everyday problems.
Anyway, here is how I deal with my anger:
- Give yourself 10 to 15 minutes to be pissed off. You’ve gotta feel the negative feelings that come, you can’t hide from them. I’ve been doing my best to limit the time I spend doing so to 15 minutes tops. The key words there are “doing my best.” Give yourself 10 to 15 minutes to be mad about it. I usually spend these 10 to 15 minutes ranting, which is what best helps me get the anger out. I’ll talk to whatever loved one I am with in that moment, but if I am alone or around people that are not in my inner circle of trust, I will excuse myself and call one of my closest allies on the phone. This group of my absolute closest allies includes my mom, my dad, my sister, my cousin Maria, my aunt Pilar, my roommate, and a small handful of friends. My number one go-to is always my mom. I’ll call one of these people up and just ramble about why I am angry and why the overall situation bothers me. Once the steam is out, and my loved one responds to the rant, I’ll talk to them like normal. If none of my loved ones are available to talk on the phone or FaceTime, I type out my rant into a note on my phone. This is a good alternative plan, because, as much as my loved ones care about me, many of them live in different time zones so it isn’t always feasible to call them. Anyways, the point here is that you can give yourself 15 minutes to be mad, and be mad in whatever way it is that you please. I find ranting to be the most effective way to spend this time, but it all varies on a person to person basis.
- Deal with it. So, this may sound harsh, but the next step is to simply tackle the issue. Can you control the situation? If yes, what do you need to do to get the outcome that you want? Do it. If no, what do you need to do to figure out how to deal with the unchangeable outcome? Do it. Devise your game-plan and execute, baby. Simple as that. Either do what you can to fix the problem, or do what you can to deal with the outcome of the problem that you cannot change. This is how you move on.
- Do something nice for yourself. Depending on the situation, you can analyze what you have time for and what is feasible. There are so many kind things that you can do to comfort yourself and take care of yourself in order to feel refreshed. Here are a few of my favorite self-care practices to engage in after experiencing negative emotions.
- Take 5 elongated deep-breaths
- FaceTime with my niece (my 2nd favorite activity, only after actually playing with her)
- Turn on some music and sing/dance
- Watch an episode of my favorite show (I always watch Friends because the episodes are short and it’s a light-hearted comedy)
- Drink cold water or warm hot chocolate
- Listen to music
- Eat a sweet treat
- Take a shower
- Lay down, wrap myself in a warm blanket, and shut my eyes
- Hang out with my friends and have a good laugh
- Move on. Now, we’ve felt the negative emotion, we’ve devised a plan to deal with it, and we’ve engaged in some sort of a de-stressing act that makes us happy. We’ve done everything that we can to handle the situation to the best of our ability, and we’ve done everything that we can to keep ourselves calm and level-headed throughout the process. This is all we can do. It is now time to move on with the day and life in general until a resolution or other event occurs in alignment with this issue. Time to go about your life!
I hope these 4 steps help you with your anger management in the drastic way that they have helped me. Anger is an unpleasant emotion, but we are strong individuals here on IIB – we can handle it.
Let me end this piece with a quote from the wise Kevin Gnapoor from Mean Girls.
Sending lots of love and positive thoughts your way,
Mean Girls Gif courtesy of Giphy.