Recently, I've spent a sizeable amount of time catching up on the just concluded Big Brother Nigeria reality show. Most of the comments, hate and controversy have centred on a particular housemate whose anger was better talked about than experienced. Luckily, there were no cases of violent outbursts, but the damage that was done verbally was ostensive and disturbing.
I've seen anger in various forms and have firsthand knowledge of the scars it leaves. I grew up in a home where domestic violence was almost a norm, and most of it could have been avoided if anger was properly managed. It was almost predicted that I would grow into an angry and abusive adult, cursing and breaking things in my wake, in reaction to anything that didn't go my way.
However, I made a very conscious decision to be nothing like where I came from. The choices before me were simple: be an ill-tempered aggressive woman, or be even tempered and reasonable. What we aren't told is that this is a choice you have to make every day, and many times, it's hard to choose the latter option.
These simple tricks have helped me stay sane and kept the demon called anger at bay.
Identify your triggers
I learnt as I grew older that insensitivity and raised voices were a few of my triggers. Once I felt a certain level of insensitivity and aggression toward me, I got tempted to defend or express myself by throwing tantrums or expel my frustration by breaking something.
Hence, I made a decision to do the very opposite and walk away from these scenarios. Your triggers could be messy kids or unforeseen traffic, but the first step is to know what they are.
It's often said that we cannot control the actions of the people around us, but we can control our reactions. You too can. Identify the ills that set your "anger-meter" racing to a dangerous red, and walk away anytime these scenes come on. Once the issue is diffused and you're calmer, then you find that you're in a better mental place to express yourself.
Visualize a bigger picture
Many people have relaxing pictures and words they use to calm the storms raging in their minds. It does work greatly when anger flares. However, what works for me is visualizing a bigger picture, or 10 scenes ahead. If life was a movie, and each moment was a scene, then we can be sure that each scene/angry moment would pass.
So try thinking of five or 10 scenes ahead of the moment in which you're angry. The realization that life is moving, and that in the grand scheme of things this particular outburst isn't worth it, could encourage you to simply let things go.
Laugh out loud
Humour is a great trait. It's amazing how you can send serious messages on the wings of humour. You don't have to speak aggressively when angry; you can think through your words and wreck less havoc. Take a moment to laugh, and then communicate your thoughts jokingly but succinctly. It does sound a little hard, but with practice, it becomes a natural impulse. Avoid drifting into sarcasm though, as that could do more damage than good.
Get some exercise, take a break
Sometimes lack of rest, exercise and healthy eating can leave one cranky and irritated. Other times, a fast moving office environment could introduce fatigue. These are very fertile grounds for anger to thrive! When you feel like your stress levels are on a hike, take a break, change your environment, go camping, engage in some exercises and don't forget to eat well.
Forgive and Let go
My life literally changed the day I learned forgiving an offender was more to my benefit than theirs.
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For the longest time, I felt forgiveness was doing a favour to an undeserving immortal, and so I held on to grudges for an unhealthy amount of time! Many still think this way. If only you knew the damage refusing to forgive can bring, you'd let go more easily.
Let go of every wrong that's been done you, release every angry impulse with each breath and watch how easily you win this battle against anger.
It's equally important to admit when it's time to get some help. Sometimes after all is said and done, anger could still win. Consult a mental health professional in such cases. There's no shame in doing that, as it's just another means to a desirable end.
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