Stop Lashing Out – When Anger Wins, We all Lose

Anger seems to be taking over everything. New expressions on the age-old emotion have showed themselves in road rage, Internet and social media rants, and harmful behavior directed toward total strangers. A new wave of belligerent travelers are now attacking airline staff in the confined space of our skies. What has happened to us?

The stresses of a life-threatening pandemic combined with our already fast-paced, technological world are getting on everyone’s nerves. Entitled people think it’s their way or no way. We all operate on a short fuse these days. But that does not give us license to lash out at people.

A disclaimer, before we get into the steps you can use to get control of your anger — If your anger issues are the result of a medical condition, seek help from the healthcare community. Depression, alcohol and/or drug abuse, grief, or anger-based mental health disorders are serious. You are best served going to the professionals for help.

For the rest of us, here are some ways you can take control before anger controls you:

Before An Angry Situation Arises . . .

  1. Get plenty of exercise. Physical activity reduces stress.
  2. Put humor into your life. Lighten up with laughter. Listen to comedy. Perspective and your ability to control how you perceive your world is paramount to a positive world view. See the humor in every moment.
  3. Spend a few moments each day doing deep breathing exercises. Take relaxation breaks. Meditate. These activities help you gain the control you need when you need it.
  4. Work on your empathy skills. When we can place ourselves into the shoes of someone who makes us angry, we are less likely to place blame and ridicule.
  5. Put the brakes on rumination. Misplaced aggression, the result of reliving an experience over and over in your mind, can cause you to lash out at innocent people and pets. Ban it from your life.

During a Conflict . . .

Image by 95C from Pixabay
  1. If possible, remove yourself from the situation. Putting time and distance between you and another person who is the cause of your anger, allows you to calm yourself, think rationally, and be able to speak without raising your voice.
  2. Take control of your reactions. Stop. Breathe a slow, calming breath. (If you’ve practiced, this comes easier during stressful and challenging times). Remember, you own your reactions, they don’t own you.
  3. Focus on finding a win-win solution. Allow your creativity to distract your impulsivity. Pull your empathy for their position into your resolution.

After the Encounter is Over . . .

  1. Don’t ridicule your response. We are all human. But learn from it. What could you have done differently? Did your actions escalate or de-escalate the circumstances?
  2. Apologize if you were in error.
  3. So often, how we respond to another’s anger determines the outcome. Lashing out may initially feel good, but regret can follow if our actions/reactions were less than we expected them to be.
  4. Forgive, regardless of who was at fault. Don’t allow the bitterness to build. That only hurts you in the long run.

Use these suggestions to fine-tune your response and gain control over your anger.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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