Learning how to deal with anger is a tricky business

It’s an unfortunate fact of life in today’s society that anger is a major cause of unhappiness and can result in disastrous results. Whether you are the recipient of another’s anger, or you’re the one dishing it out, anger does no one any good. In either case, learning how to deal with anger is not a simple subject.

Every day, we hear of an incident of ‘road rage’ or a school shooting. Such things were unheard of just a couple of decades ago. Now they are almost commonplace. Why has the syndrome of anger become so irrational? Is it simply a lack of discipline?

Our fast-paced and stressful environments makes everyone vulnerable to the problems anger produces. There’s no simple answer. However, there are some techniques you might employ to diffuse the effects.

Here’s a simple example of how to deal with anger you might encounter at the grocery store. You’re standing at the deli counter, waiting your turn. “Next, please!” You step up to place your order. Another customer decides that you’ve cut in front of them and proceeds to lay into you. “I was here first!” You need to understand that this person is venting. It has nothing to do with you. Who knows what has caused their frustration to exceed civility? Your best bet here is to let it go. Returning anger for anger leads nowhere. If you respond with, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were here before me”, that frustrated person is mollified and may even feel guilty that they came off on you. Unless the two minutes it costs you to accede places you in a catastrophic bind, what’s the problem?

You can probably think of a thousand such examples. People who exhibit such irrational anger are usually frustrated individuals who feel they lack power. Confronting you offers an opportunity for them to gain a feeling of superiority. Let them have it. Maybe that simple act will alleviate some of their frustration.

In such everyday interactions, you might cajole, sympathize or make a good joke to diffuse the anger. If this method of how to deal with anger doesn’t work, just dust your feet off and leave it behind.

If you’re the one dishing out the anger, think before you speak. Sometimes the best course of action is to be quiet and take a ‘time out’ just like you recommend to your kids. Think of the consequences of mouthing off. Once you’ve said your piece, you can’t take it back.

If you are the one who doesn’t know how to deal with anger and it’s a consistent problem, consider taking an anger management course. Self help books on anger management may be another viable alternative. Don’t let anger control your life.