Avoiding getting caught in this emotion is important for good health, improved social interactions, and increased performance at work.
Do you recall that climactic scene in Star Wars when Admiral Aackbar yells, “It’s a trap!” In addition to being a key moment, it also serves as a reminder to me about anger. That is, anger is almost always a trap. Almost invariably over the course of my 15 years of counseling men in my Red Bank, New Jersey private practice, anger is a topic that rears its head at some point in a therapy session. Understanding anger is important for good health, improved social interactions, and increased performance at work.
So, why is anger a dangerous trap? It is because the intense feeling keeps you attached to the person or thing that is making you unhappy. How do you escape from the claws of anger? By allowing yourself to replace the anger with indifference. Otherwise, the anger will eat at your heart and soul. So, letting go is the first step to dissolving anger. Below are five things a man can do to move away from anger.
#1—Know and Manage Your Physical Status
We know that physical experiences such as fatigue, hunger, anxiety, pain, illness, and feelings of being overwhelmed are more likely to lead to anger than when someone is physically relaxed. This is because first and foremost anger sets off an internal “fight or flight” response. And when the body is already in one aroused physical state like anxiety, it is easy for that to switch into anger. When a person learns how to control their physiological arousal through breathing or muscle relaxation, they are able to avoid or decrease anger.
It’s common for men in my office to relate a story about something that happened in a loud and excited manner with flailing hands. At the same time, they protest in a harsh and dark voice, “I am not angry!” When this happens, they are the last people in the room to recognize that they are angry. However, once a man acknowledges his anger, he becomes much more likely to be able to de-escalate it himself.
#3—Use Your Head
Logic trumps anger. When you feel yourself beginning to burn up, it is worthwhile to catch yourself before you get so hot that you become irrational. This is possible only by paying close attention to angry thoughts as they build. For instance, when the thought “This is horrible” echoes in your mind, challenge and replace it with more realistic thoughts. For instance, tell yourself instead, “I did not like what just happened at all, but I will be OK.” The more a man builds a habit of positive thinking, the less likely a downward spiral of negative thoughts will set in.
#4—Look at all the Angles
When a person becomes angry, especially at another person, it becomes difficult to look at the event or problem from different perspectives. But when a man is able to step back and use other lenses he gains empathy, patience, and tends to take things less personally. And taking things personally is a heart of anger. Men tend to experience anger when they feel targeted, threatened, and thwarted.
When one is angry, a loss of control tends to underlie that emotion. By letting go, you can actually gain control using free choice. Forgiveness is the ultimate step in letting go. The beauty of forgiveness it that it does not need to be communicated to another person. It can remain a secret. Whether you reveal that you are setting out to forgive or not, it can start the process of letting go of anger.
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