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3 Tips to Control Your Anger Before It Controls You

Change your focus. Be gracious, mindful and joyful.

Send your anger on a detour and just keep cruising through your day

I haven’t witnessed a road rage incident but I’ve read about them in the news and that’s as close as I want to get! It’s a little surprising to see the extent escalation can occur. On the other hand, I’m not shocked. We’ve all seen the person who weaves in and out of traffic or cuts people off and nearly causes an accident. That’s enough to set off even the most easygoing person.

If you’re like me and you woke up in a good mood today, had a delicious healthy breakfast and you’re looking forward to your usual morning coffee, you’re probably expecting to still be holding onto that good mood when you start your workday. But, if you’ve encountered something like a bad driver (or fill in the blank with any frustrating commuting issue), it could be enough to turn your cheerful mood into a dark one in a flash.

What can we do to keep that good mood going and continue enjoying our day? You need to realize that you cannot control other people, you can only control yourself.

Frustrating situations are going to happen and since we all have free will to choose how we will behave and react, it’s a reality that we won’t all agree on what that looks like. There is always going to be that person who doesn’t obey the rules, whether it’s the law or just courteous behavior we were all taught in kindergarten. Make up your mind that instead of reacting in kind to their poor behavior, you will back away and keep smiling!

Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die – Buddha

1. Give grace

I may have to tell myself the reason that a person was driving so close to me was because they have an emergency. It may be that due to situations out of their control. They’re running late. Maybe the baby spit up all over them as they were walking out the door and they had to go back and change clothes. Maybe someone else drove the car yesterday and didn’t leave the keys in the usual place, requiring a crazy, time-consuming search for those elusive keys. Maybe they’re in a hurry to get to the hospital to deliver a baby or say goodbye to a loved one.

If I can believe that this person is a good person, maybe even a friend, I can be forgiving and move over to allow them to hurry on their way. Really, if that person was your best friend or cubicle neighbor, you would probably have a completely different attitude towards them.

Be a fountain, not a drain – Rex Hudler

2. Change focus

Make a decision to focus on something else. Shift your mental energy to something positive. Start thinking about a meeting you’re going to have today and consider the points you want to make or questions you may want to ask. Think about your child’s sporting event you’ll be watching after work and how proud you are of all their hard work. Or go over your prayer list and pray for your loved one’s needs. Whatever it is, you need to force your attention away from that one person who is trying to hijack your mood.

Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. – Psalm 34:13-14

3. Anger is contagious (so is joy!)

When you get to your destination after encountering a maddening event, fight the urge to recap the dramatic, annoying saga of your morning commute. The more time and attention you give to this frustrating occurrence, the harder it will be to brush it off and move on. Instead, make a decision to bring positivity to your workplace and encouragement to your co-workers. 

It’s too easy for us to fall below the line and play victim. Make a decision that you will be the person others go to when they’re having a bad day. Not so you will join them in the pit of despair but because you’re going to lift them up, brush them off and help them to see the good in the people around us.

We have to choose joy and keep choosing it – Henri J.M. Nouwen

We’re all a work in progress. You know if controlling anger is an issue for you. If you aren’t sure, ask a friend or loved one what they think, but don’t get angry if they say, “Yes.” If you are unable to see improvement after trying to make changes on your own, get professional help so you can be your best you!

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