The Simple Way To Beat Your Everyday Anger, According To A Therapist
I am a very angry person who usually keeps it under wraps.
This morning, for example, someone cut ahead of me in line at Starbucks. Sure, they had a little kid with them and looked like a tourist. But, nothing gets in the way between me and my Venti Soy Caramel Macchiato. I threw in a "maybe next time, you should respect the line" as she passed me.
I could've been ruder, but I controlled myself. Still, it doesn’t take a lot to piss me off.
Bottling all that negative energy up isn’t exactly conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Research shows people who frequently lose their tempers are three times more likely to suffer a heart attack.
As women, we try to balance emotion with perception. Verbalizing our anger will risk being perceived as "bitchy" by others. Remember Jennifer Lawrence's essay about failing to negotiate a raise for her role in "American Hustle"?
The fear of seeming rude or ungrateful is real.
In an attempt to avoid losing my sh*t entirely, I spoke to Melody Wilding, therapist and a professor of human behavior at the City University of New York, Hunter College. After speaking with her, I implemented each tip in hopes that I'd be able to find my inner chill.
It worked. Kind of.
You are your own sanctuary.
I view my room as my sanctuary. However, I’m not always lucky enough to be able to retreat there if I’m pissed, especially if I’m at work.
Wilding’s opinion is a little different.
“If you tend to be a visual person, leverage your mind as a sanctuary,” Wilding explained. "Visualization is a powerful anger management strategy that you can invoke in the heat of a situation, particularly in scenarios where leaving the room isn't an option, like a high stakes client meeting or tense interaction with your boss."
I had a couple of busy days that week, which would usually drive me up a wall. Nothing kills my work flow like forgetting I have a meeting regarding something I don't particularly have an opinion about.
When I got really irritable towards the end of the day, I closed my eyes and tried to envision my brain as a Pinterest-worthy pool of inspirational quotes.
It worked, but my editors looked at me like I was a psychopath.
Think of your problems as balloons.
No, these aren’t the fun balloons we all ached to get at theme parks as kids.
Wildling recommends viewing your problems as balloons. Envision releasing each balloon, watching it float further and further away.
I wasn’t too crazy about this one because virtually every time I imagined a tense conversation or a problem I had at work or at home as a balloon, my mind’s eye envisioned it popping soon after releasing it.
This forced my problem to theoretically fall back into my lap.
So far, more into the sanctuary approach.
…Or a castle.
Pretend your problems are locked up in a tower, and throw away the key.
Wilding claims both the balloon and the tower approach are great when also accompanied by deep breathing.
I find that deep breathing alone doesn’t do much by way of calming me down. But, when coupled with a visual, it was significantly more reassuring.
I still wanted to rip my neighbor a new one after he shot my dog a mean look. Apparently, any dog who wants to say hello with a lick has bad manners.
Find a mantra.
Turns out, your daily affirmations might actually be helping.
"Another quick tip is to slowly repeat to yourself a favorite calming phrase such as 'calm, cool, and collected' or 'take it easy,'" Wilding explained.
My favorite one to use? “You is strong, you kind, you is beautiful,” from "The Help." I don’t care how cliche it is, the mantra truly works for me.
If that's not as comforting as chicken soup, I don't know what is. Rage balloon, deflated.