By Jude Bijou, MA, MFT
Each of us was born with an emotional constitution that determines how we’re more likely to react in any situation. We all have a mix of three emotions – sadness, anger, and fear — but usually one or two of them governs our feelings, thoughts, words, and actions.
People whose most dominant emotion is anger are generally type A folks who tend to be strong, ambitious, aggressive, and loud. At their worst, they are judgmental, critical, selfish, jealous, resentful, and negative. They often blame others, and have a hard time seeing other views besides their own. Folks with an anger constitution are usually ready for a fight.
Do you recognize some of these tendencies in yourself? If so, and if you’re tired of them, you can change. Moderation is the key to restore balance. Exert restraint in your activities and avoid situations that promote intensity (have you heard that before?). You don’t have to make a complete transformation before tomorrow. Just take a little step each day.
Here are five easy ways to decrease the amount of anger you feel and simultaneously increase feelings of love:
1. Eleven times a day (or more) repeat: “People and situations are the way they are, not the way I want them to be.”
Your expectations and lack of acceptance of other people, things, and situations are what is keeping you feeling angry. Instead, over and over, remind yourself that people and things are the way they are. Only then will you best be able to respond with whatever opportunity is presenting itself from a centered place. You don’t have to agree. Just accept that that’s what’s true for them.
2. Stop focusing on what’s lacking in others, and what they are or aren’t doing.
Look within to determine what would be most loving or best for the greater good. Decline an offer for an extra job. Hold your tongue. Go home earlier. Say something nice. Ask yourself: “What’s true for me about this? What would be most loving?” Line up to do that.
3. Give more.
The act of giving contradicts the tendency to be selfish or self-centered — a stance that goes hand in hand with unexpressed anger. Ask: “How can I help? What can I do?” Offer a helping hand. Offer gifts. Offer plentiful appreciations and praise to others. These acts of kindness will kindle your heart.
4. Find a way to move your anger physically and constructively, so that no one or no thing of value is damaged.
Without voicing any blaming or swearing, pound clay or bread dough. Throw rocks. Yank out weeds with abandon. Stomp around. Push against a wall or doorjamb. Lie on your back on your bed and flail your arms and legs. Exercise. Do something somewhere safe, where you can let go and express the energy hard, fast, and with abandon. If you express your anger energy physically and constructively, you’ll be too tired to fight! End your healthy meltdown by reminding yourself, “People are the way they are, not the way I want them to be.”
5. Minimize hot foods (yep), hot sun, hot topics, hot exercise, hot activities, and violent movies, games, and books.
Choose activities that are cooling, climates that are cooler, foods that aren’t spicy, and avoid stimulants, such as alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and energy drinks.
Do a little every day and you’ll feel the difference. When you take charge of your anger, you’ll feel better and feel more connected to others. Likewise, others will be much more attracted to you.