Here’s How To Have Self Control With Anger, No Matter How Heated The Moment Is, According To Experts
Anger is certainly not the most comfortable emotion to have, especially since it can come out in some not-so-cute ways. If you get angry and say mean things to people, or yell, or slam doors, or you call your BFF a jerk, well, everyone's been there. Learning how to have self-control with anger is a process that can take awhile, but it doesn't have to be one that makes you feel worse about the anger during that process.
Believe it or not, there are some really constructive benefits to getting in touch with your anger, even beyond just learning how to not have regular flip-out moments on people in public. As counselor and relationship expert David Bennett tells Elite Daily, "I believe that all emotions are good in the sense that they tell us that some need isn't being met. If you're angry, then some need of yours isn't being met."
That could be the need to be heard, Bennett explains, to be respected, or it could even mean that you're in some kind of situation that you simply don't want to be in anymore. "This isn't to say anger is a positive emotion, but it's certainly OK to feel it," he says.
And when you learn how to deal with it, and have a little more control over how it might make you act, you can also start to figure out what might be bothering you underneath it all. Here are a few ways to fee more in control of your anger the next time those emotions hit you.
Acknowledge how you're feeling
Learning how to have control over any emotion, anger or otherwise, starts with simply recognizing that you're having that feeling, and that you don't need to pretend you're not, says Bennett. After all, when you make a habit of stuffing feelings away instead of dealing with them, sometimes they just grow and eventually burst inside of you.
"One way to control anger is to acknowledge that you're feeling it," Bennett explains. "Recognize you're feeling this way and have some self-empathy that a need of yours isn't being met."
Then try to focus on being kind to yourself, he suggests, the way you'd be kind to a friend who was getting upset about something in their own life. You'd be surprised at how much nicer you are to yourself when you treat your own emotions the way you would a loved one's.
Figure out what you need
Again, according to Bennett, anger often surfaces as a reaction to an unmet need, meaning it's important to figure out what need isn't being met. "Figure out ways to meet that need that don't involve reaching the point of anger," he tells Elite Daily.
For example, maybe you get mad at your mom every time you visit her because she makes comments that make you feel disrespected. First of all, your feelings are totally valid. But instead of letting your reaction to those comments get to the point of anger, try to express how you feel the first or second time she says something that offends you. Better yet, since you're anticipating these comments, remind yourself to be on the lookout for them, and come to an understanding with yourself ahead of time that you're a little more sensitive when you're around your mom. If you need to, set small boundaries, like making sure you get out of the house every now and then so you don't feel completely stuck in a negative situation.
You won't always be able to completely address what you need to in order to dispel the anger, but you can be gentle with yourself in working toward solutions and easing the pressure of the situation overall.
Learn how to self-soothe
Ever heard someone suggest "go take a walk" when a person is angry? Well, it works. Or, at least, distracting yourself and learning what you can do to calm yourself down can work, according to Shauna Zotalis, a psychotherapist based in Minnesota.
"Three deep breaths can do wonders," she tells Elite Daily. "Other techniques include journaling, and taking a 'timeout' to do something calming, like listening to soothing music, smelling aromatherapy scents, or even watching the flame of a candle."
Consider your anger when you aren't angry
If you step away from the situation for a bit and let things cool down, says Zotalis, you'll probably have a clearer, more level-headed perspective of what's really going on and why you feel the way that you do when you revisit the whole thing.
"Leaning into the anger and being curious about the emotion will help calm your mind and body as well," Zotalis adds. "Once calm, our rational brain (the prefrontal cortex, to be exact) can be activated again, and we can take a deeper look at our anger to see which primary emotion is underneath."
That "primary emotion" might be embarrassment, fear, hurt, disappointment, jealousy, maybe sadness. The point is, everyone feels these things, and as uncomfortable as those emotions can be, they're important; they tell you about what's really happening inside your mind.
"Once we can identify the underlying primary emotion," Zotalis explains, "we can communicate our issue more effectively to others."