There are many reasons to feel angry, but fortunately, there’s always something you can do to regain control.
Take a step back
“Get away as far as possible from the object that provokes your ire. Don’t say anything for as long as this access lasts,” advises St. John Vianney. Instead of breaking all the china in the house because your child or your spouse has pushed all your buttons, go for a walk, get some fresh air to calm your nerves. Repeat for as long as you must, “Jesus meek and humble of heart, grant me a heart as meek and as humble as yours.”
After getting away, you should go back to the person who made you angry. Unless both of you are able to talk it over and forgive each other, a dormant resentment will remain between you. You’ll be only repressing your emotions and the conflict will reignite at the first opportunity. More importantly, you’ll be avoiding an occasion provided by God to grow in charity, humility, and meekness.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes
It was the pagan Seneca who said, “No one says to himself, ‘I myself have done or could have done the thing that is making me angry now’; no one considers the intentions of the person who performs the action, but just the action itself: and yet it is to this person that we should turn our attention, and to the question whether he acted intentionally or by accident, under compulsion or mistakenly, prompted by hatred or a reward, to please himself or to oblige another. Let us put ourselves in the position of the man who is making us angry: in point of fact it is an unjustified estimate of our own worth that causes our anger, and an unwillingness to put up with treatment we would happily inflict on others.”
Work on becoming more patient
We fight wrath with virtues that oppose it: patience, refusal to keep grudges, meekness.
Don’t seek perfection in everything
Anger is so often born out of failures that we perceive as undeserved, when really they are nothing but illusions we have entertained concerning our own capacities, our work, love life and friendships. We can’t escape this perpetual cycle unless we renounce the need to have “a flattering image of ourselves” and our desire to control everything. We have to learn how to cheerfully accept the reality that others are not exactly as we’d like them to be.
Forget about caffeinated drinks and alcohol
Control your body through relaxation, sobriety (anger can be exacerbated by consumption of caffeine and alcohol) and silence (noise can provoke aggression).
Don’t forget about humility
“I am gentle and humble in heart …” (Mt. 11:29). Jesus did not place these two qualities together by accident: humble people are gentle. “These anger and bitterness we have against ourselves, tend toward pride and originate in our sense of self-importance, which is troubled and anxious to see us as imperfect,” said St. Francis de Sales.
When outbursts of anger become frequent, uncontrollable, exaggerated, and last a long time, you might consider consulting a behavioral psychiatrist. Sometimes will alone is not enough to deal with anger.
Forgiveness is vital if you want to get better
From time to time re-read the great hymn to unity that is the epistle to the Ephesians.
Father Pascal Ide and Luc Adrian
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