In a perfect world, everyone would get along all the time. In reality, it’s not uncommon at all for two people to disagree. You can’t control what someone else says or does. However, you have total control over how you respond to it. Most people prefer to avoid confrontation if they can. It’s just not always possible. At some point in life, you might find yourself smack dab in the middle of a discussion you’d rather not be having. It’s a terrible feeling to erupt in anger, then later regret things you’ve said. (Yes, that was the Voice of Experience speaking.) The good news is that there are concrete steps you can take to control your anger, especially during a confrontation.
Control your anger when the fight-or-flight instinct kicks in
You may not realize it, but rising anger during a confrontation is part of your fight-or-flight reflex. We all have this instinct inside of us. When there’s danger, our bodies exhibit physical symptoms, such as increased heart rate or shallow breathing. We have the same fight-or-flight instinct on an emotional level. If your brain perceives that you are being “emotionally threatened,” it kicks into fight-or-flight gear. The trouble is that this typically presents itself as erupting anger. If you don’t control your anger, you might start shouting or saying things you’d otherwise never say to a person.
Remember these helpful tips to control your anger in a confrontation
Perhaps you have to have a discussion with a person that often triggers your anger. Or, maybe you’ll wind up in an unexpected confrontation when a problematic situation arises. Either way, keeping the ideas included in the following list in mind may help you control your anger:
- If you feel your pulse rate increasing or anger rising, remember that it is sparked by a fight-or-flight instinct. Consciously remind yourself that you are NOT in imminent danger. This will help you calm down, because when your brain no longer perceives a threat, the physical symptoms of erupting anger will begin to subside.
- Take action on the “flight” part of fight-or-flight reflexes. That is, if you think you’re about to lose control of your temper, take a break from the discussion.
- If possible, pause the conversation and take a drink of water.
- Inhale and exhale deeply, several times.
- Try to call to mind exactly what it is about what the other person is saying that is making you so angry, then consciously think of ways you can respond to the issue without blowing your top.
If you make a concentrated effort to consistently put these ideas into practice, especially during a confrontation, you might learn to control your anger sooner than you think. It’s amazing what a brief pause can do. The brain is such a powerful thing. The problem is that it perceives everything as reality. If a person you’re talking to says something that triggers anger in you, your brain not only perceives it as a threat but it sends signals to your body that make you feel like you are being threatened or are in imminent danger. Learning to implement coping skills like those mentioned in this post helps counteract the thoughts in your brain so that you can remain calm.
It’s okay to feel angry, as long as you’re not acting out of control
It’s unlikely that a person can go through life without ever feeling angry. Not everyone lets their anger get the best of them during a confrontation, however, Whether you’re interacting with your kids or spouse or a coworker or friend, etc., if you’re constantly have eruptions of anger and saying things you later regret, you might want to put some of the ideas mentioned earlier into practice to see if it helps. For more thoughts on how to diffuse anger during conflict, check out this article.