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Rediff.com  » News » How to Manage Anger

How to Manage Anger

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Last updated on: January 20, 2006 14:38 IST

Last fortnight, columnist Claude Arpi recounted the lessons a heart attack taught him.

Last week, in a follow-up piece, he listed an action plan to tackle stress.

In the concluding segment of this series, Claude lists advice he was given on anger management by the fine doctors at the Institute of Cardio-Vascular Diseases in Chennai:

For those who have a tough time controlling their anger, an anger management plan might help. Think of this as your emotional control class, and try these self-help anger management tips:

Ask yourself: 'Is my anger necessary enough and is the issue worth it?' Chances are, you will see things from a calmer perspective.

'What is the worst consequence of the object of my anger?' If someone cut in front of you at the bookstore checkout, you will probably find that three minutes is not such a big deal.

'Is it going to help me or others in any way?' The anger is going to affect you physically as well as your relationship with others who get affected by the anger.

Imagine yourself doing the same thing. Come on, admit that you sometimes cut in front of another driver, too, sometimes by accident. Do you get angry at yourself?

Ask yourself: 'Did that person do this to me on purpose?' In many cases, you will see that they were just careless or in a rush, and really did not mean you any harm.

Try counting to 10 before saying anything. This may not address the anger directly, but it can minimise the damage you will do while angry.

Try some 'new and improved' variations of counting to 10. For instance, try counting to 10 with a deep slow breath in between each number. Deep breathing helps people relax.

Ask yourself about the anger-inducing issue/situation/event: Is there any alternate way to look at it? You may be looking from an angle that makes you feel angry about the situation. If you look at it from some other angle you may be able to understand or you won't get angry at all.

Visualise a relaxing experience: Close your eyes, and travel there in your mind. Make it your stress-free oasis.

Techniques to eliminate worries

Write down what you are worried about. Do your best to carefully think of what you are really worried about. There is said to be only a few dozen or so general fears. No one seems to agree what a 'general' fear is, and if you could overcome your general fears, you could eliminate worry completely. For example, about job demands, about the future, about family or social responsibilities.

Get all the facts related to the problem and don't allow yourself to be misled by any false information and to even more worry.

Analyse the facts. Once you have enough information to help you face the worry, make some sense out of the data. What does it all mean, if anything, at this point?

Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen. At this point, you can make a more realistic assessment of what the worst-case scenario would be.

Accept the worst. Acceptance is almost always an instant cure for worry. Acceptance, however, is not easy and often takes time. By accepting the worst, you are in a situation where things can only improve.

Improve on the worst. Here is where you consider the law of averages. What are the chances the worst will actually come to pass? Is it really worth worrying about?

Decide what you can do about it. Brainstorm. List everything that comes to mind that you can do about improving the situation. Spend as much time as needed on this part.

Act on the decision. If there is any point to worry, it is about taking action toward making positive changes. From your list of possible actions, decide what you are going to do and take action right away. Do not procrastinate. The longer you let your worries build inside, the more emotional and physical damage you are doing to yourself. It is probable that through this process you will end up eliminating the worry before you complete all the steps.

That is fine. The point of the exercise is to eliminate the worry, not to complete all the steps of the process.

Claude Arpi
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