When someone you love says something hurtful to you, it can cut like a knife and burn like a hot coal. Many times in the heat of argument, its tempting to hurl insults at each other in order to cause temporary harm, but releasing your anger on the people you love can have many long lasting and negative consequences. Letting go of your anger and directing it onto others can cause them to distance themselves from you, resent you, ignore you, and eventually leave you. Words can hurt, and keeping a firm grasp on your anger level is the best way to manage the words that come out during a feud. There are several techniques that we can successfully use to stifle anger building within us, so that we can talk out our issues with love and understanding.
The everyone is doing the best they can technique.
A powerful tool throughout our relationships and interactions with others is the “everyone is doing the best they can” technique. When someone says something hurtful to us we often recoil in anger out of instinct. Anger is really a form protection from emotional pain, this is why anger and denial often come first in the healing process. When someone says or does something hurtful or frustrating to us, we can choose to lash back, or we can choose to believe that perhaps their intention wasn’t to cause harm after all. If we think for a second that this person is doing the best they can at the moment, and that they are not trying to harm us, we can often gain an advantage over anger. All we need is something to get us outside of our head long enough to realize this person loves us and probably doesn’t mean to hurt us, they may not be right in their actions, but they are doing the best they can with what they have at the moment.
The “How would I feel if the next thing I say is the last thing I ever say to this person?” technique.
Imagine yourself in the middle of a brutal argument, your partner says something malicious and hurtful. As we prepare our counter attack, imagine asking yourself this simple question. How would I feel about what I am about to say if it was the last thing I ever said to this person? Imagine right after you say what’s on your mind your partner gets in a car, drives off, and dies in an accident. How would you feel with your last words of choice? If you would feel less than optimal about it, maybe you should choose to reword your statement a little differently, or just pass on using it at all.
The countdown technique.
An old favorite for many people with anger issues, is to start a countdown from 10 down to zero, in your mind, when you become riled. As soon as you feel yourself starting to lose control over your emotions, practice this technique to bring yourself back down to earth quickly. When you feel the anger boiling up start the countdown like a space shuttle before lift off: 10-9-8-7-6…
Another powerful technique to remove yourself from your anger, is to remove yourself from the situation temporarily. We should try not to just walk away from someone in the middle of an argument, but sometimes it has to be done in order to spare yourselves from a full fledged fight. Next time you feel yourself falling into anger, try telling the person this “I love you, but I really need a few moments to gather my thoughts, clear my head, and reopen myself to listening.” They might be impressed at your composure, and usually even if they have become angry, they will respect your request. The truth is, once we both get angry, neither person is listening any more: its better to let the emotions clear for a second and try again a little bit later if you are truly seeking a resolution. The problem usually occurs when people start attacking each other or trying to force the other into submission with words, it takes you out of listening and genuine compassion and into a very bad place.
The best way to control your anger is to separate yourself briefly from the emotions you are experiencing. By getting yourself into a different frame of mind, you can often keep your anger at bay for long enough to redirect your thoughts. If you give into the emotions of the moment, then often the anger has won: it is only by realizing that you are in control of your emotions and finding a way to exercise that control that you can conquer your anger. Things will happen that will make us angry, but if we commit to controlling anger instead of letting it control us, we will have much better relationships, and we will avoid hurting the people we care about most.