Any anger you choose to hold onto with a death grip will ruin your life. Anger is a healthy emotion, but when it festers and controls your reactions, it is can become toxic. It disrupts your work day, hurts your relationship with your significant other, or children, and most importantly: it hurts you. Anger, when unchecked, can morph into chronic stress, which can become physical illness. If you don't believe this, ask clinical experts in Western or Eastern medicine, as this is one truth everyone agrees on.
So how do you gain control of your anger before it controls you? Please consider my 5 tips below:
1. Realize that if you have ANY anger toward ANYONE in your life, you have not experienced forgiveness.
By holding onto that anger, you're only hurting yourself. This may seem obvious, but it's worth reiterating. If you're experiencing continual anger over any circumstance in your life, you have not experienced forgiveness. Forgiveness means giving up the hope that the past could have been any different. I know that this is a variation of an unknown quote I heard. Gosh, it's so true. When you truly forgive someone, you'll know in your body and heart.
How? You'll know because when you think of them or even speak to them, anger will not be creeping up your spine. I had an uncomfortable relationship with my stepfather and I knew I forgave him the day that I felt just utter compassion for him ... without an ounce of resentment, anger, frustration or blame. I felt peace. And that peace remains to this day. This is forgiveness, folks. Whoever you speak of poorly in conversation with others? This is the person you have not forgiven thus this person still holds space in your heart and body. Forgiveness is so freeing. It's a gift to one's self and your body will thank you every single day.
2. Know that you have two options: express or suppress.
When you feel yourself getting angry, you're going to do one of two things: (1) You are going to express it or (2) You are going to suppress it. Suppressing will bring on disease and expressing it will be healthy or destructive.
So let's opt for expressing anger. The challenge is to learn to express anger in an assertive manner. If you continually express anger in an unhealthy manner (through insults, harsh language, or violence, for example), your personality will be seen as clinical and hostile. You will not have successful relationships. Period.
Before you express your anger, take a step back. Breathe. Go for a walk. Take a kickboxing class. Jog. Journal. And then get in touch with your anger. Think about how you speak. Think about how harmful words can be. Words can scar.
Choose to be assertive. Be kind. If you're in a situation where you cannot take a few minutes to yourself, let the other person know directly that you are very angry and you need some time to process it because you are concerned you're going to say something harmful that you'll regret later.
3. Consider therapy to give yourself the gift of healing.
Anger can quickly become irrational and it often does. We can have the best intentions to control our anger, but when you get triggered enough, you may "let it rip." Your anger becomes explosive and the only result? Hurt. Damage. Regret. Sorrow. Ill Health.
If this is happening to you frequently or at all a pattern of behavior if even occasional, go to counseling. Get therapy. Face it head on. Face your wounded self. Allow yourself to love yourself. Give yourself the gift of healing.
4. Whatever you do, don't fight back.
Create a new habit and it will soon become an old habit. If you find yourself in a disagreement with someone, listen to what's underlying the words coming at you. I promise you that this person might feel unappreciated, possibly neglected and most likely unloved. Your task is to ask a lot of patient questions. It might take walking out of the room for a bit. The goal is to not let your own anger spin out of control. Keeping your cool is indeed "cool," as it will keep the situation from becoming an absolute minefield.
5. Remember that life is short, and you want most of it to be happy.
Life is a blink on the radar of eternity. Why in the world would you want to spend it being angry? If you're angry at someone, you need to forgive that person and move toward him or her in love or set boundaries as you move on. Choose love ... every single time. Choose peace. Choose kindness. Choose health.
My hope is that you forgive and set yourself free.