“Conquer yourself rather than the world.” This indeed seems to be the motto of the most inspiring and convincing people throughout human history. From today’s neuro-scientists and quantum physicists to the most famous sages in the past, all point to one simple fact – that heaven and hell is located between our ears. It is WE who determine what reality truly is. Our views, our conditioning, our habits, and our experience all play a role in how we see and interact with this world. While it is clear that we can not always control the outer environment around us, we can certainly have more control of our internal mental states.
Introduction to Anger Management Techniques and Mindset
Anger is the most destructive of all human emotions. Learning ways to tame this wildebeest is going to be one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself and to the people around you. It is not an easy task. There is no pill you can take for it. It requires patience and lots and lots of practice.
Its important to understand that dealing with anger calls for a multi facet approach. You’ll find this page to be organized into some of the most simple anger management techniques, more intermediate types and an introduction to advanced and truly transformative methods.
As you read this page, you’ll notice my admiration for science and teachings from ancient wisdom traditions of the East. Shaolin Kung Fu and David Carradine movies in particular have some simple yet profound snippets of peaceful warrior wisdom. Shaolin approach to dealing with hostility is truly unique. Throughout history all these monks wanted is to perfect their minds but their monasteries were constantly being attacked by robbers. To protect themselves they were forced to develop martial arts skills that would kick some serious butt. What’s really cool is that their goal was to always fight off their opponents with skillful means and keep their inner balance by avoiding anger. Perhaps you’ll agree, we could all benefit from acquiring these skills as well.
[stextbox id=”grey”]Master Kan: Seek always Peace. Wear no path for the footsteps of others unless the soul is endangered. We are linked by our souls. To endanger one, endangers all, but when one is endangered, then the soul must become a warrior. – Episode No. 5[/stextbox]
Simple Techniques – Anger Mentor’s BREATHE Method
While these simple methods are a bit more like putting a bandage on a shotgun wound, they are really effective in clearing your mind and preventing “collateral” damage.
Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it. – Rene Descartes
1. Breathe deeply into your belly. As soon as you feel your anger rising, you may not notice but your body and breath actually freezes. Take a deep wholesome breath deep into your stomach, hold it for a few seconds then slowly release. Repeat this several times with your mind focusing on the sensation in the belly. Practice paying attention to the sensations in your body. You may feel a lot of discomfort in various places. Your goal here is to ease the discomfort by breathing directly into it.
It also helps to look up and move around. The trick here is to distract yourself from the “source” of your anger. Occupy your mind with something else – start counting something in front of you like a stack of books, pens on your desk, birds on the wire, whatever, just count something to 20 or to 50. This deep breathing technique and distraction of your mind allows the proverbial champagne cork to gently slide out of the bottle neck, instead of popping out violently.
2. Reverse. After having avoided a huge outburst, now is the time to stop everything for a moment and go into an emotional time-out. Practice detaching yourself from a fiery situation as soon as it arises. Don’t say anything, don’t do anything, don’t even think anything. All you want to do here is simply step back from a situation that just made you loose your cool. If you feel an outburst coming and can’t control it, excuse yourself for a moment and walk away from a situation. Drink a glass of cold water. Let off some steam by walking, exercising, washing dishes, whatever but do not punch anything to “vent” it. Just chill until you have your mind back. [stextbox id=”grey”]Master Po: The undiscerning mind is like the root of a tree–it absorbs equally all that it touches–even the poison that would kill it. – Episode No. 19.[/stextbox]
3. Explore your state of mind. To start with, name the feeling and admit that you are angry. (This creates a mental circuit between the amygdala – where your emotions are processed, and the more rational – pre-frontal cortex part of the brain.) After you have identified the feeling, don’t judge yourself, don’t reject your anger, simply observe it. Where is the sensation of anger in your body? See if you can examine the inner conditions that led you to this state of mind. What triggers came to play? Where did you feel like you lost control? Are you trying to control something that can not be controlled? What are you afraid of? Is it really worth the fight or can a favorable outcome can be achieved in a less violent way? Many times, you’ll notice that being kind and assertive is incredibly more effective to get what you want.
Those who anger you, conquer you – Elizabeth Kenny
4. Apply one of the anger killer mindsets: Anger is a sign of weakness and the bigger the ego, the stronger the anger. If your anger arises in response to other person’s offensive conduct, try to understand what is driving that person’s behaviour. Are they out to hurt you or are they just acting the way they feel because of some other events in their lives? Most of the times your antagonizer will simply be on a mental trip of their own and will attempt to make you a target by taking it all out on you. If you look at them more as a drunkard or mental patient who is a slave to his mind, you will not take things so personally. After all, a doctor doesn’t kick his patients, isn’t this true? 🙂
5. Turn your mind towards something completely different – Many times all you need to do is refocus to another object – pattern interrupt. Remember the “I feel pretty” song from Anger Management movie? Change your physiology. If you feel like you absolutely have to say something then write a letter to that person, seal it, put an address on it, heck even put a stamp on it and set it aside with a full intention of sending it. If its an e-mail then whatever happens, DO NOT send it now, save it into a drafts folder. Next day, have a good breakfast and burn the darn thing.
“Big dogs don’t bark, they don’t need to because they know they are big.” – Lama Ole Nydahl
6. Humor. My spiritual teacher always says, “Humor is your best protector.” When you can, make light of situation and laugh it off. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Easier said than done? Maybe. But make an effort every time you get a chance and it will come more naturally next time. Remember, anger is for babies who cry because they can’t get what they want. Be a grown up, be a big dog. Your long term happiness depends on this.
7. Enjoy the rest of your day. If you handled the situation well, pat yourself on the back or shoot me an e-mail and I’ll pat you on the back, you deserve it. If you lost it and created a big mess, then its OK too. Learn from the event and apologize to a person you hurt when possible (the sooner the better.) Then relax, anger management is a practice, not a one time “fix all” pill. I promise, you will get better at this with time.
While the previously mentioned techniques deal with anger on the surface, these intermediate methods will stop the bleeding, apply antiseptic, bandage your open wound and help you heal.
1. Face your demons – take fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time and write down a few cases when anger brought most damage to your relationships, health or professional life. Look deep, trace it back years before if you have to. What would your life would have been if these anger driven events didn’t happen? Be courageous, be honest with yourself. Realize the gravity of those situations. Cry if you need to but face them and admit these things. It is immensely important to have an honest moment with yourself. After you do, your heart will open and the ground will be set for planting new seeds of change. Realize that while transforming your anger is a lot about you it is mostly about others. Make a promise to yourself to take small steps to improve. Keep in mind it took a long time to develop destructive habits so it can take just as long to acquire new ones.
[stextbox id=”grey”]Young Caine: Do evil demons exist?
Master Kan: Do wars, famine, disease and death exist? Do lust, greed and hate exist? They are man’s creation, brought into being by the dark side of his nature. – Episode No.46[/stextbox]
2. Identify situations that make you stress – rushing, someone nagging, hectic routine, etc. Learn to identify frustration early on as a prelude to anger. Make an action plan to deal with every frustration that you just identified. When you feel it, put on your armor of awareness and use the correct techniques to protect your mind.
3. Similar to a previous point, make an inventory of your weaknesses. When you go hiking with weak knees you bring hiking sticks, when you ride a bike you wear a helmet, when you carry a bomb with a short fuse you bring water! If you identify and understand your flaws you will look for ways to fix them. Someone who knows his weaknesses has a chance to overcome them; someone who’s not even aware of his weaknesses is bound to be a slave to them.
[stextbox id=”grey”]”The courageous fighter shuns violence. The skillful soldier avoids anger. A mighty warrior does not fight for petty conquests.” – Caine.[/stextbox]
4. Do whatever it takes to soften your heart. Most people I work with admit that their anger issues stem from being chronically depressed and pissed off at the entire wide world. If I inquire with them about the last time they did something good for others, many times I get a raised eyebrow and a surprised look.
You might think this is silly but its a fact of life – good deeds make you feel great and the better you feel the less likelihood you’ll have any anger issues. Most people do not make this connection. So try to lay off the emotionally dramatic shows, the bitter songs and set some boundaries around those nagging people in your life. Get a cat, plant some tomatoes, buy your mom some flowers, reconnect with a fun friend, perform one act of kindness a day, whatever the heck it takes, just do good! This will make your mind more spacious and establish a strong capacity to deal with life’s challenges.
5. Practice giving people the benefit of the doubt. In order words, make room for other people’s weaknesses. Think about it, many around you respect and love you just the way you are. Even with all of your faults, you are dear friend, a loved partner and obviously you have more good qualities than you are willing to admit. Just try to imagine how much energy and patience it takes for someone to deal with your anger issues, try to feel how they feel when you hurt them. They have to put up with a lot so why not return the favor?
Everyone’s brain wires differently based on their genes, conditioning and various mental associations they have built up in this life. Respect other people’s opinions and their faults. Just like you, they do what they can in life. They live how they know. In a big scheme of things, we are all brothers and sisters and we seek happiness to the best of our ability.
6. Learn to quiet your mind. There is a great saying – “God starts talking, when you stop.” Buddhists share a view that mind itself is rich with answers but all of them are drowning in our endless mental chatter. Meditation increases awareness of your emotions, including anger, and serves as a lighthouse that shines the light on your flaws, allowing the muddy waters to settle and exposing the inherent wisdom in every situation. If you have no time to meditate at least try to schedule in some down time in your day or simply introduce a 10 minutes of mindfulness into whatever you’re doing. Do this and you will be kind and pleasant to be around with.
[stextbox id=”grey”]”True insight cannot be gained by specialized knowledge, by victory or defeat, doctrine or dogma. It can only be achieved by the illumination of one’s inner self.” – Caine[/stextbox]
7. Contemplate impermanence. OK, “This is weird,” you may say, “why in the world I need to think that I will die some day?” Simple answer – death puts your life in perspective. Constantly making an effort to contemplate how fragile and precious this life is is a powerful reminder of what’s important in your life. Maybe that next argument about “who changes the baby diaper” won’t take place because its just not worth wasting time over it.
Another way to foster your relationship with impermanence is to take solace in fact that everything painful eventually ends too. No matter how bad your life may be, always remember – this too shall pass.
8. Practice gratitude. Make a list of 5 things you are grateful for every morning. Write it and feel it if you can. Do it while driving. Its not just some new agey technique, it diverts energy from constant self obsession to an outward object and trains your mind to surrender control and help you realize that some of the best things in life come as a gift in unexpected situations or people around you. It also re-inforces the fact that no matter how ticked off about something you may find yourself – there are still plenty of reasons why your life is still blooming awesome!
9. Watch what you eat. Your diet does have an effect on your body and mental states. Certain foods can truly make you more irritable and angry. According to the science of Ayurveda, tomatoes, certain peppers and other spicy foods are considered to have energy heating element to them. While aiding your digestion they can also produce an internal over-heating effect that can bring about irritability and a lower threshold for controlling your anger. Caffeine and alcohol are also notorious for irritating your central nervous system.
The purpose of life is a life of purpose – Unknown.
10. Establish your WHY. Why do you want to change? What is your biggest motivator? There will be days when you won’t give a “rat’s arse” about any of this anger management. You maybe sucked into your darkest dungeons of the soul so deep that all of this what you read here will seem like a distant childhood memory but what you will remember is what motivated you to seek change. Use your WHY as a reminder that you should strive on and get back on track.
11. Start a diary to track your progress. Yes its a lot of work but only if you are into writing novels. You can just write a sentence or two every day or even a couple of times a week. Simply jot down what caused you to be angry and what you did about it. Say a word or two about what you learned and that’s it! Diary is also a grate place to keep your daily gratitude lists.
[stextbox id=”info”]Tip: Develop a sense of urgency about getting your anger under control. Life is passing by. Make up your mind to go through it and conquer one small step at a time. Unlike what you might have heard from some seminar with a new age guru, personal change is slow, painful and gradual. Look at this as your life long practice. It is wise to be patient and expect to fail multiple times. Establish a reward system and celebrate small successes. [/stextbox]
The advanced methods are not about screaming louder, moving faster, or pushing magical buttons. They are about looking deeper, addressing the root causes of anger itself. These will not only help you rehabilitate from your wounds but will give you the armor to prevent your anger arising altogether. Simply put, instead of getting angry at usual things, you’ll find yourself more patient and at ease in any situation. This is where you develop life wisdom and relax into it. This is what its all about.
[stextbox id=”grey”]Caine: The body is the arrow, the spirit is the bow. You must learn to use the strength of the spirit — Episode No. 52 [/stextbox]
Let me tell you a little “secret”. No one can truly make you angry unless you let them. The reason anger arises as a knee jerk reaction is because your brain wired this way without you even being aware of this. What you need to do is to learn how to expand your awareness about your inner processes and brake those mental associations between external irritants and your automatic reactions to them.
The advanced methods have to do with taking an integrative approach towards solving your anger issues. This has to do with revamping your mindset and your habits. This is where you learn more about your mind, body and the connection between them. These techniques can put you in control of any situation. You will have the stamina and perseverance that you need to live an empowered life. You can truly “kick ass, take no names” and be loved for it. Rather than being drained by your previous negativity, people around you will feel energized and inspired.
Here you must acquire skills on how to effectively deal with conflict, how to be humble but powerful, be assertive but not aggressive, be kind but not weak, be wise but not proud. All of this will take you some time but trust me when I say this – emotional intelligence is absolutely, hands down, best investment you can make in yourself.
If you are ready to get started then download the Free Guide – 7 Secrets to Anger Management from Ancient Wisdom. Located in the upper right corner of this blog, this short e-book will reveal some special ways of working with destructive emotions in every day life. You’ll find out why gaining control over emotions is so difficult (if not impossible) and discover the first steps on the path to self-mastery that is time proven and effective.
[stextbox id=”grey”]Young Caine: What is the greatest obligation that we have?
Master Po: To live, Grasshopper. To Live! — Episode No. 35 [/stextbox]
P.S. Got anger? Download my FREE report called “7 Secrets of Anger Management from Ancient Wisdom.” I’ve spend years gathering the advice that is presented in it. If you’re on a spiritual path this could be a life-changing e-book for you. (You’ll find it in the upper right corner.)
i look forward to hearing about the book
Hi Beatrice, thanks for the encouragement. We just had a baby; our hands are full but I’m slowly working on it. Please check back for updates in the near future. Take care! 🙂
sounds very encouraging..thank you..
Thank you Sherrian. Be well.
I’m so looking forward to your e book. Your writing is clear and thus your anger management techniques are easily understood – thus should be easily practiced. Thank you.
Thank you for kind words Maxine. The book will be more on sharing what I’ve learned about nurturing one’s inner wisdom so that it can permeate all aspects of life. The anger management primer shared above has some things one could implement and start practicing immediately. For example the BREATHE method is very good; I still use it as a primary tool whenever any “unsavory” feelings arise. 🙂 Take care!
How do you deal with a husband who verbally abuses you with insulting names?
How can you still connect when he doesn’t apologize or change his ways?
How can you keep a loving relationship when a husband won’t get help or change?
Thank you for writing. These are serious and big questions. Its obvious you are a very kind and caring person looking for answers. I’ve written an article that may be helpful:
It is quite difficult to give advice without fully understanding the situation but it is very likely your husband lives in a lot of fear and has serious insecurities. In this case denigrating others is a typical behavior. But how does this awareness help you when he’s being a total jerk, right?
Your intuition is correct – it’s nearly impossible to be in a relationship that has no openness or honesty. Things could be fixed but it would mean he has to look for answers, either in the books or with someone that can help him understand things better. It is key that the constructive criticism and advice comes from a neutral party. If his pride does not get in a way, he may find the courage to change. Hang in there and make wishes that he finds the help he needs. That’s what I would do.
To whom it may concern:
You know, I really like this website. It has been the salve on my wounds on more than one occasion. But, AngerMentors’ BREATHE method #4 upset me a little. Specifically the part about looking at the source of one’s anger as a “drunkard” or “mental patient.” It sounds so judgemental!
As a person with Bi-Polar, well, reading that was diapointing. Especially when I hold this website in high regard.
Hi Dave, thank you kindly for sincere comments. I can certainly see your point that this idea of looking at someone as a “drunkard” can sound judgmental. Allow me to clarify. In a way it is actually a correct thing to do, but one must judge the other person’s state of mind but not the person himself. By judge I mean evaluate and understand the condition. Most of us are still slaves to our minds. In a way that alcohol intoxicates our brain so does anger cloud our mind. When a drunk offends us we tend to take it less personally as we know “its just the booze talking.” In the same way, when an angry person offends us, out of compassion we can write it off as gibberish as they are not thinking straight. This is clearly evidenced when friends get in a fight and exchange nasty words. After the heads cool they admit they did not really mean the words that rolled off of their sharp tongues. When it comes to the comparison to a “mental patient” what I meant to say was that a doctor does not judge the patient with a mental condition; on the opposite, doctor has respect for it and can help the patient in a skillful and empathic ways. Wishing you all the best and hoping to be of help in the future. Thank you for all your compliments on the blog, your words are encouraging.
To: AM Tadas,
Thank you for your timely response. I am renewed with faith in your website. Keep up the good work! And thanks for the new perspective!
Came looking for the website as I am at a crossroads with the effects of my anger. I have a pretty reasonable sense of the sources of my anger; career underachievement, myriad personal and relationship failures, and now a faltering marriage, with three beautiful children in the balance. I read and see these techniques as viable – and a somewhere in the equation of my anger lurks the procrastinator and the “quitter” I guess. You know, things don’t work for long and the setbacks discourage me and then I’m back in the toxic cycle. I am also probably quite depressed as a result of all this, or, was already and it’s now exacerbated. Any way, I know there are no drugs that are directly related to anger management- but, are anti- depressants at all effective to get ahead of the feelings that may inform my outbursts? I am very leery – but also feel quite desperate. Any help is so appreciated.
Thank you for such a sincere and eloquent note. To be frank, what you are saying hits very close to home for me personally. I am an adventurous type so personal failures, financial disasters, rocky relationships are my close relatives. 🙂 Many years reading, meditating, contemplating lead me to one conclusion that I live by day in day out – we fail because we try – we, as people, are not failures because of that. Those that don’t fail – don’t try; they sit on the sidelines and criticize the shit out of everyone else. You are NOT a failure because you wanted things and they didn’t work out. Anger is a byproduct of that and some say in a fancy way – anger is a blocked wish. There is a quitter, a procrastinator, an achiever, a hater, a lover, an addict, a saint in ALL of us; what matters most is which of these qualities we allow to dominate. Unless you have some serious condition that requires antidepressants to function at work DO NOT touch that stuff – these modern drugs are madness! They are designed to take responsibility from how we feel by simply hiding our emotions. You are asking the right questions, you could be on a path of breakdown that will lead to a breakthrough but whatever you do – please do not dull your brain with antidepressants as they are aimed to suppress the areas of one’s brain that are responsible for getting out of the emotional turbulence that we find ourselves in. I would do lite exercises, good diet and some yoga or simple stretches instead. These will increase your serotonin levels, give you more clarity and allow you to wiggle your way out of a disparaging situation. No matter how hard it is right now, keep your family together no matter what, they are your insurance for sanity. In your case, the techniques described here will not be enough to contain your discouragement. Hire a kick butt life coach if you can, get away from downers in your life, make some changes and things will get better. Let me know how it goes and keep in touch. Blessings and wishes for much wisdom and courage your way.
“What we do not see, what most of us never suspect of existing, is the silent but irresistible power which comes to the rescue of those who fight on in the face of discouragement. – Napoleon Hill”
How is the book doing?
Hi Alex, coming a long slow but will have a free intro book soon, will have plenty of good stuff for anyone to get started. Take care!
I came across this site while looking for help in not getting upset when dealing with others who are angry and lack boundaries. I need to change my own behavior because I know that I can’t change theirs.
This is so good, I’m married to an angry man. If only he were finding things like this! Wish me luck… I really appreciate your words here, this is super useful even just for me to understand. Thank you.
I too agree, if only it was your man that was reading this. Hang in there, warmest wishes your way.
I am somebodies Man. I am reading this. My wife has gone to bed angry at me for being angry. Ah the irony.
For too long I have enjoyed anger without knowing that I was. It seems I may have been replacing all the good times that I was addicted too with shitty times that I may well now be addicted to instead it seems.
I have not been totally unaware of myself but tonight my wife was right and I was just moaning and being angry for no reason other than my own selfishness or what appears to be my own “pleasure”. Nowt pleasing about it. Time to try even harder. I want a happier life. There is lots to be happy about already but I must do better to make it better. I am in Heaven already but there is always room for improvement and it has to start with me.
LOL, as you know Lee – anger is contagious. 🙂 Regardless, today you are a Man with a capital M. When it comes to us, people, work never stops. I’m sure you’ll notice your lady will become happier when you adopt a more positive tone (which will be tough – habits die hard) and as you know – happy wife – happy life. Good luck!
Very insightful article on anger management. Good and easy to follow strategy. Hope you come up with some more useful stuff like this as there isn’t that much on the web.
Thank you Paul. An introductory guide is already up on the site. Feel free to download it if you like, it’s free.
This is such great, easy to read information. It’s also very touching to read other people’s comments about their situation. I really enjoy your ancient wisdom approach. I have been doing some more meditation with a view to calmly dealing with my “big ego, big anger” husbands outbursts. I will have a look at your book, and hope that the information somehow catches my husband eye. Sincere thanks for your articles.
Hi Ann, your husband may not be open to the things you read here but it will be helpful to you understanding his outbursts and what hides underneath of them. Maybe some day when you are having a nice moment with him you could share what you know. When you’re dealing with big egos its all about baby steps. 🙂 Good luck.
I am a counselor who works with children, some of whom have difficulty with rage and impulse control, and I find your work to be evidence-based and spiritual – a refreshing combination.
Markia, I can imagine working with children is even a bigger challenge. Thank you for your noble efforts.
I have read several of your written articles this morning. While I find them very insightful, useful, and educational, I have found them a little difficult to read due to some grammatical errors. There are several words missing that would have made the sentence more comprehensive and use of other words when you meant to use the proper word in making the sentence have more meaning and comprehensive. It is my hope that you the tools available in Microsoft Office Word to help with your writing. Thank you for the insightful writings. May Heavenly Father bless you and keep you strong.
What a Godsend it was to find this article! I met and married a man with major anger issues. Only thing is–I also have them. Mine simmered and my outbursts were occasional until we got together. Now after 10 years, I believe I–we–are damaging our son and refuse to let our daughter have the same issues. But as with Tee above, when I am able to swallow my own anger, my husband refuses to even try to do the same. He refutes my attempts to be calm until I get as angry as him and then it gets ugly fast. I should have been a lawyer; I’ve always said my secret super power is my ability to break people down with words. But I have been using that on him instead, which has caused a vicious cycle of pain and anger between us. He gets angry about nothing and when I speak up about it, he berates me and curses. I am no shrinking violet and of course, let him have it just as bad. Amazingly, we still love each other, but our happy times are becoming fewer and farther apart. I have been praying more, to what seems no avail because I am the only one making a visible effort. When I try to go “all psychologist” on him, he accuses me of not having a medical degree and stop trying to analyze him. I will try again, for the umpteenth time to address the root of my own issues (molestation) and use your techniques to try to let go of my anger. I am truly addicted, but I want a happy marriage and happy children more. Thank you so much.
Tee, I too am very aware of that vicious circle that you talk about. Couples feed of each others energy so if you make an earnest effort your husband will notice. Use these techniques as much as you can and most importantly till you get stronger – just avoid conflict altogether. It is much better to spend an evening apart rather than tearing each other apart, let alone giving the kids an opportunity to model destructive behavior in their marriages, isn’t it? 🙂 Kids are like this, they do not consciously learn, they just absorb everything from us like sponges, good or bad. Anger management takes a lot of work and time, however it is the best investment we can make. Karma doesn’t stop at death of our body and those negative mental impressions will play out in the subconscious in the formless state and in future lives. It is good business to guard against negativity with all tools at our disposal now to avoid reaping the bitter fruits of our seeds in the future. Be strong and please practice. Warm wishes to your entire family.
Hands down, the BEST articles I’ve read about anger & emotionally driven behavior. Really, great job! Thank you!
Thank you Tobhiyah, happy to hear that.