Imagine You’re Watching Yourself — And 8 Other Methods Experts Recommend To Control Your Anger

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Anger plagues us all at one time or another, but for some of us, it can spiral out of control. If you need some help controlling your rage, there are countless suggestions floating around the internet – but these 8 are tried, true, and some of our favorites.

8. Choose not to be angry.

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You have power over your own reactions, says PhD Roselyn G. Smith.

“First we must have awareness of our anger or other upset in the moment and realize that we can choose to feel differently, even though it may take some time.

Once we develop the awareness of our reactivity in the present, anger and any other way it expresses itself,‎ and even while we are working on developing it, we can realize that we are making a choice about how to react.

To respond to someone or something with anger and vengeance is like drinking poison and expecting it to kill the other person.”

7. Count backward from 10.

Psychotherapist Elizabeth Eiten claims mindful breathing and slowing down long enough to focus on counting can help stop a snap reaction.

“A quick way to calm down is to practice mindful breathing while counting backward from ten.

When we’re angry, we get hijacked by our fight or flight response in our amygdala, which turns off the problem-solving parts of our brains.

Focusing on our breath helps calm the amygdala while counting helps activate the frontal lobe of the brain, which helps us with problem-solving.”

6. Listen to calming music.

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Lauren Cook urges you to have a playlist ready in case of emergencies.

“Play music in your headphones.

When angry, it can be helpful if we tune in with ourselves.

The key is that you listen to calming music rather than tunes that rile you up even more.”

5. Journal.

It sounds cheesy (and you might want to tear it up afterward), but Dr. Rudi Rahbar swears it works.

“If you can, write it down. If you’re angry with someone or something and they’re not there, go and start writing.

Writing down our feelings and thoughts can not only dissipate the anger but it can also provide us insight into why we even got angry.”

4. Remind yourself it won’t last.

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Nothing is forever, says licensed counselor Tricia Andoor, and that matters.

“Calm the thoughts that are leading to the angry feelings.

Many times, anger stems from beliefs that you shouldn’t ever have to be frustrated, inconvenienced, or annoyed.

These are all a part of life though, so it’s helpful to remind yourself of something like:  ‘I can feel annoyed and remain calm,’ or, ‘This is inconvenient, but I can breathe slowly and calmly and get through it,’ or, ‘This situation stinks, but I can still be kind.’”

3. Take responsibility for your own feelings.

It might not be what you want to hear or do in the moment, says Dr. Cathryn Leff, but it’s for the best.

“Change the conversation you are having with yourself.

Negative self-talk is not helpful. Take personal responsibility for your feelings rather than blaming others, and challenge your automatic thinking.

Also, practice thinking like an optimist.  Always view the glass as half-full. And adjust your expectations. Do you expect too much of others? Do you expect too much of yourself? This only fuels anger.”

2. Imagine you’re watching yourself.

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You might not like what you see, says Sarah Morris, and that could make a difference.

“Try to imagine you are a fly on the wall watching yourself in the situation that is making you angry.

Ask yourself: ‘Why might the other person be behaving in this way?’ Try to use this angle to give yourself some space and ask yourself what this new angle can teach you.”

1. Get up and move.

You probably feel like pacing, so licensed counselors Brittany Johnson and Michael Bernstein agree that following those urges could work out your rage.

“Anger is a natural emotion and it’s often a mask for fear.

To calm down, visualize yourself in a safe calm space or march in place.

You can even go for a walk. Marching and walking can open your brain which typically closes down when you are angry.”

These are helpful, and you can apply them in almost every situation.

The holidays are right around the corner, so I’m guessing we could all have a few tricks for staying calm in our back pockets!