What are the things that make you mad? What can send you over the edge so quickly that you are caught off guard? What causes you to scream in frustration, curse someone out, or punch a pillow? Are you aware of what makes you feel this way or does it surprise you each time?
- Take a few deep breaths. No matter the situation and no matter how sure you are that what you are thinking and feeling is 100% correct, take a few deep breaths. Focus on your breathing by feeling each breath enter your nose, move through your sinuses and chest, and exit your mouth. Do this several times until you are aware of your breathing and you notice a change.
- Take a step back from the situation. If you are able to take a break from the situation, do it. Go for a walk, listen to music, get a cup of coffee, watch a sitcom, play a video game, go to the gym, or pet the dog. Anything that does not involve dwelling on what is making you angry. This means that you should not call a friend to vent or seek out a colleague who also despises the boss in order to commiserate. That actually feeds our anger and makes it worse.
- Ask yourself: What is really bothering me? Maybe you didn't sleep well last night or you're upset about a fight you had with your spouse earlier that day. Maybe this particular situation reminds you of previous ones and you're having trouble differentiating between them and your emotions are jumbled and confused. Maybe you feel the boss takes advantage of you or your friends are leaving you out. Identify what is bothering you, and then write down the specifics including any thoughts you're having about the situation.
- Come up with a game plan. Now that you know what is actually making you so angry, come up with a plan of action. Do you need to apologize to the colleague who you snapped at because your neighbor's car alarm was going off all night? Is it about the fight with your spouse and you should call or text to set a time to talk about the disagreement? Are you realizing that your boss does take advantage of you and its time to work on being assertive? Or maybe your friends are leaving you out and you need to find out why or branch out to new friends?
- Act on the plan. You've identified what is making you angry and you've come up with a game plan. The next step is to take action. Follow through on what you decided you need to do. Break it down into smaller steps if necessary. Remind yourself of why you are taking each step and do not quit just because the anger has subsided; it will return and you'll be back where you were initially.