Anger: Don't Let It Sneak Up On You

There’s nothing easier than “losing your temper,” “flying off the handle” or “going ballistic.”  Almost every day, as we bump and bounce off the world around us, there are plenty of opportunities to “hit the roof.”

But anger, and giving into our anger, rarely leads to happiness or contentment.  When we let our anger range freely we alienate friends and family, sow discord and disappointment, and create an environment of fear around ourselves.

When we build a habit of throwing a fit whenever something doesn’t go our way we may get what we want in the short term but risk creating feelings of animosity and resentment in the future.

Is this really how we want to live our lives?

Emotions can often sneak up on us and overcome us with their power and intensity.  This is especially true of anger.  It doesn’t take much to send us spiraling out of control when someone cuts us off in traffic, ignores us, or “pushes our buttons.”

We feel justified when we get angry.  We get a rush of adrenaline and virility when we give into to anger.  We also get strong feelings of power and domination when those around us cower in fear as we unleash our fury.  These physical consequences of our anger can become addictive and our “buttons” can become sensitized so that every slight or brush with discomfort can be an excuse to exercise our anger.

Every time we get angry we actually lose more control and more power than when we react calmly and rationally.  When people around us “make us angry,” we allow ourselves to be acted upon – giving up control on how we feel, to those who around us who may or may not have our best interests at heart.

One of the best ways to avoid overwhelming feelings of anger is to BE PREPARED.  Take a look at your life over the past weeks or days and identify when, where, and how you became angry.

After you’ve identified a few recurring instances, decide, BEFOREHAND, how you want to react.

A friend of mine told me a story about how he incorporated this idea of being prepared, and identifying anger triggers, in a small but significant way.

When he was driving at night, often oncoming traffic would have their bright headlights on.  He would either keep his headlights on bright or flash them repeatedly to “teach the other car a lesson.”  Or he would wait until the oncoming car dimmed their lights before dimming his.  Sometimes oncoming cars had very bright lights and there ensued a high-beam, low-beam skirmish on the dark roads that left my friend resentful and angry at the inconsiderate nature of his fellow travelers.

Then one day he decided to always be the first person to lower his headlights and never flash his headlights into high (to teach the other traveler a lesson), even if the oncoming car was blinding him.

The high-beam, low-beam skirmishes ended.  He learned to avert his gaze when the high-beam traffic approached and, most importantly, never lost his temper when driving at night – something his was doing regularly.

He identified a situation that made him angry and decided, beforehand, how he was going to react.

When we identify situations, people, or events that trigger our anger we can create a plan on how we want to react.  In the case of my friend, he chose to never flash his high-beams in anger. 

By identifying and preparing an appropriate response to our anger triggers beforehand, anger doesn’t sneak up on us and take us by surprise.  We don’t give in to the intoxicating release of anger or suffer the consequences of becoming angry.

We become the master of our anger, not it’s slave.

For more ideas and strategies like this on controlling your anger, overcoming depression, or managing anxiety sign up for a free, 5-day subscription at .  You’ll discover self-guided sessions that will maintain and enhance your potential for a happier, more fulfilled life. 

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