When you’re stuck in traffic, it’s just so easy to lose your temper and rail at the car in front of you, the car behind you, the cars on either side, those near the traffic lights… you get the picture.
Anger is so easy to ignite, and so hard to defuse. It is the most destructive of emotions, and one of the hardest to handle. Anger has led to physical violence, property destruction, and other damage that has ranged in severity from the disappointing to the devastating. Anger is the undercurrent that envelops domestic violence that leads to divorce, and it is the driving force of terrorism.
While these might lead you to believe that anger is too dangerous to toy with, that suppression is the only answer, let me tell you that it is NOT healthy. Suppressed anger leads to cardiovascular disease. Medical research has found evidence that those people who suppress their anger, don’t deal with it, and seethe inside, are at an elevated risk for coronary heart disease.
So what do you do with anger, then? Deal with it.
Yes, you heard me, deal with it.
Now while some therapists use a rubber-coated bat and a pillow or a punching bag to allow their clients to release their anger on inanimate objects, there is a more docile way to deal with anger. Self-talk.
It is so simple to do actually. When you feel your temper rising and the conflict escalating, stop. Breathe. And walk away.
When you do, while your mind still races with intense, knotted emotions, this is your time to self-talk. When you begin cursing out the person who offended you, stop. Restructure what you just thought and say it out loud in more rational terms. Instead of, “That speeding idiot just ruined my day! Thanks to that jackass I have a dented door!” think about why that person was speeding. Maybe he was hurrying to get to the hospital because his wife is in labor. Say, out loud to yourself your theory why the guy was speeding.
Instead of, “She just had to spill ketchup on me! Now look! My silk blouse is ruined!” try to think of reasons why your offender was clumsy. “Maybe she was working for 24 hours straight. Maybe that’s why her coordination’s not so good.”
Always reframe your thoughts in a proactive way. In a same way you take charge of a situation and don't just stand there like a victim, stop gaping and sputtering all your indignation at someone who just may have had as awful a day as you. Here's one better, swap stories with each other if you can. Release your hostility not at each other, but with each other.
Remember what I echoed from the findings of medical experts. For every second your face gets redder, you are bound to harm your body and your relationships. Anger is definitely not worth the havoc it wreaks on you.
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