Coping With Anger In The Moment

Coping With Anger In The Moment

Anger is a natural and healthy emotion we all experience from time to time. When you find yourself caught off guard with unexpected anger or feeling anger in a moment when you cannot express it, coping adaptively becomes more challenging.

What can you do when you find yourself experiencing anger unexpectedly? Below are some strategies to help you keep your calm and respond appropriately.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

When you are caught off guard with anger, you might start to feel defensive or emotional and not immediately know why. Before you do or say anything: assess your feelings, acknowledge you are angry, and question what is the likely cause of the anger.

Take a Breath

As you acknowledge you are upset, stop and take a breath. If necessary, considering putting physical distance between you and others by taking a couple of steps back.

Curious Instead of Furious

If you have difficulty controlling your anger, it can be too easy to jump instantly into furious mode and unleash your anger. Instead of being angry, be curious. Consider why this person is behaving this way or saying these things – maybe they had a difficult morning or received upsetting news.

It Is Not Personal

Practice cognitive flexibility. Remind yourself that this likely is not personal to you. When folks are behaving inappropriately or saying hurtful things, it can be because of circumstances occurring in their lives. Practice reminding yourself that the behavior of others is very often more about them than you.

Use ā€œIā€ Statements

When you are upset, it might not always be appropriate to respond. Sometimes it is best to just walk away. But if you do need to say something, focus on the behavior you find unacceptable without placing blame. Talk specifically about your feelings and the effect of the behavior on you. By communicating without placing blame, you are more likely to be understood and work toward a resolution rather than putting the other person on the defensive and generating additional conflict.

If you are still feeling upset after a difficult exchange, try calling a friend to vent, write your feelings down in a letter you will never send, or exercise. Go for a walk, or join a friend for spin class. Do something nice for yourself later, like cooking a special dinner or taking a hot bath. When it comes to anger, remember that in the long run it is best for you to control it, rather than allow it to control you.

In addition to the above, working with a skilled, experienced psychologist, therapist, or counselor can help you learn new skills to better navigate your relationship with your anger. If you are interested in therapy to explore these concerns, I invite you to call or email me to get started working together. Telehealth appointments are available.

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