"People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing."
Anger gets a bad rap in the sphere of emotions. Anger, expressed in a healthy manner can help resolve conflict and develop trust within a relationship. This misunderstood emotion is sometimes feared, suppressed, or even ignored. As with any feeling, anger can have varying degrees of intensity. Extreme anger, like road rage, can be potentially damaging to ourselves as well as those around us. Repeated rage episodes can affect our stress levels by temporarily altering our body’s chemicals, rising blood pressure, and increased heart rate. So what are some ways to make the mind work faster than the tongue in the heat of an argument?
Give permission to make space. Give yourself the O.K for a time out during an argument. This doesn’t mean walking away from conflict without a resolution. Be prepared to say something like, “I am too angry to discuss this right now. I need space for (time needed) and would like to discuss this at (time). You have given yourself permission to disengage from a potentially explosive situation. Your choice to battle it out may also set up the need to win, be right, and not hear what the other person is saying to you. The other person may choose not to disengage. A suggested response is to repeat your permission statement again, and possibly a third time. Repeating your permission statement will help prevent diving back into the conflict again.
Walk in someone else’s shoes. When we feel intense anger, our mind can create “stories” about the other person involved in the conflict. Let’s take road rage, for example. Your story could include why the driver is so slow, how they have ruined your day and how they should have their driver’s license taken away from them. The situation suddenly became your viewpoint only. Do you really know the truth about the driver and the reason for their slow driving? Take a deep breath and walk in the other person’s shoes. What can you do for them? Getting out of story-making mode and your ego can quickly diffuse an anger-related situation.
Time is on your side. Developing a different way to look at things before experiencing intense anger can makea difference when you are in the heat of the moment. Examining beliefs about anger can better prepare your mind to be faster than your tongue. An example of a belief around anger could be “I have to win an argument no matter what.”Such a belief may be an experience from childhood. Think of our beliefs as the lens through how we see the world. What would happen if you shifted your thinking, to “I can have the conflict with an outcome of a win-win negotiation?” The second belief allows the people involved in the conflict to be more like a team rather than opposites in a boxing ring. Shifting your beliefs can change your experience-and reduce your stress.
For over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped hundreds of people reduce stress in their lives.Lisa specializes stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.