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3 Steps To Manage Your Anger Instead Of Lashing Out

Fern Weis Images June 2022

Parent Coach for Moms of Teens: Fern Weis

Anger derails you and the people you love.

Your calm, affection, and creativity are shot. Managing anger and other strong emotions is part of Emotional Intelligence, or EQ. (Here’s a short video by Daniel Goleman, the father of EQ.)

“When you feel attacked, frustrated, or helpless, you go into one of the three F’s.”

Imagine you were cut off on the highway. You walk in the door to disorder and kids fighting. Work was rough. You’re primed to explode.

‘Fight, flight or freeze” was originally your brain’s way of protecting you from physical danger. Today, it’s about emotional danger. When you feel attacked, frustrated, or helpless, you go into one of the three F’s. Your brain is saying, “Do something!”

Volatile State:

Do you find yourself staying in that volatile state? It helps to have self-soothing techniques. Although you have no control over the situations that bring out the anger, you can decide how long you’ll be held prisoner by it. Yes, you have the power.

Let’s go back to the example of the driver who cuts you off. There’s a reason it’s called road rage. You feel the injustice of it from that selfish, inconsiderate %@&!!  Your brain releases chemicals and you want to fight back: pass him, box him in, punch him. Wow! This energy can actually be energizing!

Then the car behind you honks their horn and your anger ramps up. You’re on the way to rage.

We Justify Our Anger:

What you focus on grows. The longer you brood, the more reasons you come up with to justify your anger.

“Things that usually don’t annoy you now make you edgy.”

Quick recap. You feel emotionally attacked. Your brain says fight, flight or freeze. You freeze in shock, run for the hills, or go on the offensive. Hormones released by your brain can stay in your system for hours, keeping you angry and on high alert. Things that usually don’t annoy you now make you edgy.

What can you do to tame the beast? Are there steps to manage your anger? The good news – yes.

3 Ways To Manage Your Anger:

1.) Examine the thoughts behind your anger.

If you feed the anger with more thoughts, it lasts longer. Go back to the event. Did you assume something? Maybe that person wasn’t joyriding. A friend shared that when she went into a difficult labor, her husband drove 80mph in the left lane of the highway to get her to the hospital, stat. I’m sure there were some really PO’ed drivers that day. This is the reminder that you don’t have all the information. Question your thoughts and beliefs.

And even if that driver was joyriding, does that justify a meltdown? And how does it change your life? Usually, not at all… unless you take it out on others. Think about how you want to be with your loved ones.

“Break the cycle with distraction and help your brain move out of high alert.”

2.) Learn how to cool down.

Remove your thoughts and yourself from the situation. Take 5 – minutes, hours or days. When a discussion turns into an argument, physically get away. Give both of you a chance to simmer down.

Do something physical, to distract yourself from your angry thoughts. Walk, work out, breathe deeply, and spend time with your pet. My friend swears that you can’t feel sad and stressed when you’re gardening. Break the cycle with distraction and help your brain move out of high alert.

3.) Self-awareness helps you choose not to ‘go there’.

Grab your hostile thoughts as they come up. Defuse them by writing them down, challenge them, and move on. There’s something therapeutic about taking them out of your body and head by speaking them or writing them down.

Choose to be responsible for your emotions. Leave, “He made me do it. It wasn’t my fault” behind. Today’s a good day to start.

As always, your children are watching everything you do. These steps to manage your anger can help you model regulating your emotions so they can take it into their relationships. And your relationship with them will improve exponentially.

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Fern Weis

About the Author:

Fern Weis is a Parent Empowerment Coach for Moms of Teens and a Family Recovery Coach. She’s also a wife, former middle school teacher, and the parent of two adult children who taught her more about herself than she ever could have imagined.  

Fern partners with moms of teens and young adults, privately and in groups. She helps them grow their confidence to build strong relationships and emotionally healthier kids who become successful adults. She knows first-hand that when parents do the work, the possibilities for change are limitless; that it’s never too late to start; and you don’t have to do it alone. Learn more about Fern at www.fernweis.com.