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Contain Your Anger (for a while)


Life can throw us in the gutter sometimes when we least deserve it. It makes us prone to lose our temper specifically when we face injustice, shocking news, spitefulness, grave disappointments, or acts of malice by others. We may differ in reacting to such predicaments. Some of us just shake our heads in disbelief and turn our negative emotions inward; some others display their anger openly demanding corrective action on the spot. It might be helpful sometimes to dramatize our reaction to an extent. This is how we set your boundaries so others wouldn’t cross them (e.g. reacting directly to an insult in a mild way). At other times, there’s more to gain than to lose if we suppressed our anger for a while before reacting. I am not suggesting we bottle up our anger (a lot of harm can ensue in doing that). Just contain it a little and channel it properly.

Usually, our first spontaneous reaction in fury is most regrettable. Our problem may compound exponentially. This is because we have a clouded vision and blurry reasoning. The “count to ten” before reacting rule is set specifically for such reasons. You may be tempted to say “hell! I can’t help it. I don’t want to suppress the anger! It would seep in other covert ways!” But consider the alternative. If your anger was towards a person, you can lose the battle if you give your anger free reign especially if that other person has more power over you (e.g. an authority figure like your boss or your parent). The prospects of unpleasant consequences can be inevitable. You can boil inside, but it’s best to control yourself and consider how to best respond. Give your opponent a blank stare with a mild expression of your in-appreciation of what’s going on, ask to discuss the situation at another time (come up with an excuse for why not now), and then off you go to a place where you can unleash your anger as you give the situation some thoughtful consideration.

In your quiet place, start off by dissecting the conditions. You need to carefully plan, carefully phrase what you will say next, and carefully reflect on your options. Ask yourself: “what advice can I give my best friend if s/he were in a similar situation?” As you do, you may find that you are still fuming in anger and need to discharge it somehow. You’ve probably heard of venting out pent up anger through sports, screaming in a remote place, or simply engaging in a relaxation technique. Here’s yet another tool you can use if you want to be in more control of your situation and win over whoever made you angry.

Still, in your quiet place, take deep breaths and engage in mental combat with your rival. Imagine that you are in a boxing ring punching your adversary in the face. Clench your fists and move them with each blow as you live the fight in your mind’s eye. Keep breathing forcefully in and out. Beat your rival repeatedly in the face while s/he becomes too weak to fight back. Tell yourself “The more I hit, the more I take my revenge; and the more I discharge my anger”. There ….. you get more and more relaxed as your opponent finally totter and crumple to the ground. You feel all too exhausted from this anger display and release. Down your opponent goes, but up goes your sense of victory. Tell yourself: “I win! I win you #@#*! And I am very satisfied and relaxed now” Relive the moments of triumph. Change scene and contemplate further solutions to handling your situation. You’ll find plenty now that you are more empowered. Repeat the punching and winning with every option you consider. This will further release any residue frustration.

Some final tips: In considering the scenario of your confrontation, you need to have a bird’s eye view of the whole picture. Now that you got your revenge, attempt to see the situation from your opponent’s perspective, attack the problem not the person, talk about how “you feel” and what it means to you, address multiple solutions, and find middle grounds of agreement (i.e. negotiate to make it a win-win situation). Careful planning of how you handle the situation can make all the difference. Just like you won that imaginary boxing fight in that ring, you can win gracefully in reality. You have equipped yourself with a clearer vision. You would have contained your anger for a while, found a healthier way to vent it out, and planned well your battle. And it’s not whether you can contain your anger or not. It’s whether you want to. And you’d want to remain in control until you mobilize your inner resources, right? You need to turn things round for your own benefit, don’t you?

 

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