Crummy things happen. They happen to you, they happen to me, they happen to everyone. You may feel you get more than your share of them. But nobody is spared the aggravations of daily life – getting cut off on the road, dealing with a surly customer service rep, finding you were given the wrong person’s dry cleaning – it’s bound to happen.
The question is, how are you going to deal with it?
Getting the right perspective on anger in your life is important to being able to deal with it when it sneaks up on you in the moment. Here are some ways to take a global approach to anger management in your life.
Like we said above, it’s going to happen. Annoying things are everywhere. Planning ahead can help take some of the sting off. Firstly, just knowing that it’s bound to happen and that it happens to everyone can be reassuring. It’s not just you! The world isn’t unfair!
Well, it is unfair.
But it’s unfair to everyone! So join the club. Life is not out to personally offend you. You’re just one of the 7 billion people who has to deal with annoying things in life. (Even Bill Gates with all his billions still has annoying things to deal with. In fact, it’s probably a lot more grating to him when his Windows freezes up than is it to you, right?)
But more than just accepting the general knowledge that provocations are likely to occur, you can really prepare yourself for some of the more predictable ones. If you’re going home for the holidays and Uncle Frank is going to be there, you can anticipate the same dumb jokes, the same obnoxious, drunken behavior that you deal with every year. Why be surprised? Walk yourself through it ahead of time in your mind, envision how you can respond (or not respond), be ready for it.
Likewise for the weekly staff meeting – it’s a given that the boss is going to drone on. So expect it. Know that it’s coming and do what you can in advance to make it less painful – in fact, just being prepared for it to happen is likely to make it less painful to begin with.
You know when you’re in a real rush to get somewhere and the guy in front of you is driving infuriatingly slow and you are getting ready to go out of your mind when you finally decide to whip around him and get on with it?
Well, you just cut off the guy you didn’t notice in the lane next to you, and now he’s mad too.
Look, we all do stupid things sometimes and cause other people frustration. Could we all cut each other a little slack? Sometimes you’re the guy behind the slow driver, and sometimes you are the slow driver, desperately trying to find the right address in the dark. If you stopped to think about it, you could probably come up with a dozen good reasons why the person who you’re annoyed with just did what he did. Keeping this perspective in mind helps a lot to reduce how much anger we carry around.
If you knew that the maniac driver in front of you was at risk of losing his job because his car wouldn’t start this morning, you might be a little more understanding.
If you knew that the coworker who made that obnoxious comment today found out this morning that his father is terminally ill, you might be a little less riled up by it.
If you knew that the customer service rep who blew you off on the phone had to decide today whether to put his dog down or not, you might be less angry about his attitude.
We all have bad days. Consider how you’d like others to look at you on yours, and try to look at them that way today.
Invest in your Happiness
If you hate your job, have stress in your family, and/or lack a social life, you’re probably sitting on a good deal of simmering anger as it is. It is only natural that things will boil over when the little provocations of life pop up. To help reduce anger in your life, put some time and effort into addressing these situations.
Obviously, that’s easier said than done. Changing jobs is rarely an easy feat. But it might be worth some serious consideration if your boss is really that bad or the work that tedious. Do you come home angry every day? What cost would be worth getting rid of that? Food for thought.
Conversely, if family tension is causing you to be snippy at work, investing some time and money in marriage or family counseling can do a lot for your overall sense of calm and satisfaction. (You don’t have to be in a crisis or horribly dysfunctional to seek family therapy. Really. It’s a good thing for even generally health families to do! That said, it’s probably even more important for the horribly dysfunctional ones.)
Whatever the cause, attending to the root of any global frustrations in your life will help you reduce the pressure building up in your anger pot and help you avoid outbursts in a variety of contexts.
Folks, life throws us many reasons to be angry on a regular basis. That can’t be changed. What can be changed is how you look at them and what you do about them. That’s something you can control.
Learn more about our services for anger management here.