3/12/2013 12:33:00 PM
I should have done that this Saturday when some crazy folk tried to make a sista catch a case on the road. I had to pray really hard not to respond in a way my mind was going. But that was then. Although I didn't count to “ten”, I really should not have responded to their ignorant rant in the first place. But that day, wasn't my best. On a more normal day, I may not react. But lately, an undercurrent of anger has been popping up. I know long-term anger can impact your health, but what about a short-term moment when someone just tap dances on your last nerve?
I read a study from last year saying counting to ten when you're feeling angry could actually make things worse. Why? Thinking about your feelings is the worst thing you can possibly do, say Ohio State scientists.'The worst thing to do in an anger-inducing situation is what people normally do: try to focus on their hurt and angry feelings to understand them, said Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State. ‘If you focus too much on how you're feeling, it usually backfires,’ Bushman said. They suggest people should think about their problems - but from a 'fly on the wall' perspective. Researchers call this strategy ‘self-distancing.’ That’s all good but in the moment what if your fly on the wall scenario makes you re-cap what you could have done? And it involves a thought like, “I should have snatched the wig off …” you see where I am going?
But backing up takes strength, resilience and self control. But Mayo Clinic says that is the first thing you should do. They suggest a “time out”: take a few moments to breathe deeply and yes - count to 10. Hmm....really? Even if you don’t do that, I will even agree that slowing down can help defuse your temper. If necessary, take a break from the person or situation until your frustration subsides a bit. But then the issue is still there, right? So now what? The staff at Mayo Clinic offer next steps:
Talk about it – later.As soon as you're thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but non confrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.
Get some exercise. Physical activity can provide an outlet for your emotions, especially if you're about to erupt. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run, or spend some time doing other favorite physical activities. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that can leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out.
Think before you speak.That's a hard one for me! In the heat of the moment, it's easy to say something you'll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything — and allow others involved in the situation to do the same.
Identify possible solutions.Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand. Remind yourself that anger won't fix anything, and might only make it worse.
Stick with 'I' statements.To avoid criticizing or placing blame — which might only increase tension — use "I" statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, "I'm upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes," instead of, "You never do any housework."
Don't hold a grudge. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. But if you can forgive someone who angered you, you might both learn from the situation. It's unrealistic to expect everyone to behave exactly as you want at all times.
Use humor to release tension. Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Don't use sarcasm, though — it can hurt feelings and make things worse.
Practice relaxation skills. When your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work. Practice deep-breathing exercises, imagine a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as, "Take it easy." You might also listen to music, write in a journal or do a few yoga poses — whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.
No. 10: Know when to seek help
Learning to control anger is a challenge for everyone at times. Consider seeking help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control. And let’s not forget, anger affects our hearts. Research shows anger and hostility quickly activate the "fight or flight response," in which stress hormones, , speed up your heart rate and breathing and could lead to some serious heart issued – including cardiac arrest! Even the bible addresses anger saying don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Prolonged anger can cause trouble beyond the incident that has triggered your initial anger. When you hold in anger, the people and situations making you angry are stealing your joy and peace. Plus, you give them your personal power – they ain’t thinking about you and here you are festering over them! Anger affects other areas of your life – spiritually, mentally, physical and of course leads to other negative emotions. It can even destroy the good relationships in your life because hurting people hurt others. Don’t be destroyed by anger. Let it go or learn how to release it.
Like Whitley Gilbert learned on “A Different World”:
Relax. Relate. Release.