I think we have all experienced moments where we completely lose our rag, even at the slightest thing that in hindsight, was not actually a big deal at all. Or perhaps this is something that happens to you quite regularly, you have quick-tempered reactions often that you’re trying to move away from. If so, you should be proud of acknowledging this and proud to be making the steps towards doing something about it.
Anything could act as your trigger that sets you on your path of anger. Whether it’s the morning commute to work, unruly children or fanatics hogging all the equipment at the gym amongst many other possibilities.
If you’re a hot-headed individual, your temper can flare at any given moment and can cause a multitude of issues in your life. To be frank, your company may feel fearful, stressed, uncomfortable and nervous about your unpredictable nature that could, in turn, push them away. Of course, like anything, there are multiple layers to this kind of thing ranging from the occasional hothead to losing your temper on a regular basis. Deeper than this though are your actions during your episodes. Do you remain vocal or does it turn physical? Analyse the kind of hothead you are and try some of these tips to deal with your temper when it flares:
1. Change your mindset.
Of course, this tip is easier said than done. Changing your mindset is a journey and can take people years to achieve. But in my opinion, the journey is the best part! We live in an age where we have access to a world of information at the end of our fingertips, so I encourage you to use that to your advantage. Often, people can make a situation worse just because of the negative outlook they carry. Having negative thoughts is a very normal thing, but the challenge is to see the optimism as often as you can, despite the negativity currently taking place. A good place to start is analysing your personality traits and determining whether you are a pessimist, an optimist or a realist and then work from there.
Carrying out an activity that usually makes you happy is a great way to shift your feelings and thoughts. Some ideas include making a cup of tea, watching an uplifting film and browsing the web for inspirational and motivational material like quotes and videos (which is my personal number one go-to). Music also acts as a safe haven for many when emotions are on their way to hitting the roof. With music and film, you can escape those negative thoughts and transition into the meaning behind the art – providing it is an uplifting message of course. So, when you feel your temper rising, find an activity to do. Even if it’s as small as making your favourite drink, this is a way to shift your mood quickly and divert your thoughts elsewhere.
3. Keep a Journal.
In general, journaling or writing is a great way to deal with your emotions. There is something about putting pen to paper that makes this process a therapeutic experience. Try and challenge yourself to observe your mood swings over a couple of weeks, specifically noting the times where you have become frustrated and angry against the times you have acted in a calm manner. Write down your triggers and their associated consequences as well as how you dealt with that particular event. You can then be far more aware and understanding of your temper when it flares and the best ways to deal with these types of situations.
To understand the changes you need to make, you need to understand your trigger points which can be achieved by using a Journal as described in the previous tip. Once you have established your triggers, you can make the decision to change or potentially remove this problem area from your regular life. For example, if you’re around certain friends or family members that test your patience, consider distancing yourself for a while to regain clarity on that relationship. Or perhaps there may be an alternative to the route you take to work that will result in less road rage and a calmer commute. Once you determine what is making your anger flare, try and find substitutes or if you can, remove the problem area altogether.
5. Call a friend.
Calling a friend is a great way to vent and get all your emotions out before you say something to the wrong person and well, regret it massively. That’s what friends are for after all. A good friend will help you to rationalise the situation and come to more of a calmer perspective and understanding. Then, when you approach and address the problem area that is triggering you to become angry, you will hopefully be in a better state of mind.
6. Create a Stress-O-Meter.
This idea was from a great friend of mine who used this as a tool to regain clarity and proper perspective, thus helping her to deal with various situations in a better way. The idea is to attach a question or statement to each stage of the Stress-O-Meter from the red stage (representing anger, stress and clouded judgement) until you reach the green stage (representing a better understanding and a refreshed perspective). By then, you will hopefully have gained some clarity on the issue and an improved point of view. To give you an example, take the below meter. The following 5 questions and statements fit the 5 zones from red to green. You would then answer accordingly.
- Is there a way around this problem?
- Does this issue change who I am?
- Am I going to let this ruin my day/night?
- Is it the end of the world?
- Affirm: “I’m fine, I’m in control and can deal with whatever has come my way.”
As you work through each question, you will hopefully begin to rationalise the issue and end with a calmer perspective. By the final point, you have landed in the green zone and will hopefully be able to comfortably affirm the final statement to reduce your stress. You can, of course, change these questions to suit what you think will work for you.
It is incredibly important to note that anger is a completely normal emotion to have. Nevertheless, it’s still not a nice feeling to experience when in that moment, and it is not a nice experience for those in your company to experience either. Often, you may feel regret at particular outbursts which can lead to stressful overthinking marathons post-event.
You are however responsible for your own actions and should be very careful not to let your anger amount to anything that can harm another individual. So be sure to take care of your actions for the sake of those around you and just as equally as important, be sure to take care of your actions for the sake of yourself.
By Tinisha Savage for Let's Talk Coaching
Opinions expressed by Let's Talk Coaching contributors are their own.