Anyone who has ever spent time on Youtube has witnessed the dramatic and oftentimes amusing result of a bad temper. My personal favourite is Bill O’Reilly freaking out at a teleprompter and Christian Bale’s infamous rant.
Stressful situations have the tendency to escalate, and if you don’t cool your boiling emotions, they’re likely to erupt. Dr. Ronald Potter-Efron is the author of over 15 books, including new release “30 Minute Therapy for Anger.”
I hung out with Dr. Potter-Efron for a while and he shared some easy steps to simmer your stress and control your anger.
1. Take a Time-Out
Before doing something you may regret, it’s important to take a time-out and gain some perspective. Temporarily distance yourself from the person you’re angry with until your anger cools down. Dr. Potter-Efron suggests, “Let your anger drain out of your mind and body,” and “after you’ve regained composure, you need to return so you can try to resolve whatever issue triggered your anger.”
2. Defuse the Conflict
If a time-out doesn’t work and you can feel your blood begin to boil, choose one or more of these 7 action steps to cool your jets:
- Focus on solutions, not victories or defeats
- Take three deep breaths
- Look for a compromise
- Don’t take things too personally
- Do something different to break the escalation pattern
- Think of something you like about the other person
- Let the other person have the last word
3. Use I Statements
The purpose of an “I” statement is to let the other person know how their actions (or inactions) affect you. Dr. Potter-Efron lists three easy steps to get your message across in a constructive manner: “1. State what the person has said or done that bothers you. 2. Tell the person what you are feeling. 3. Say exactly what you want.”
4. Fight Fair
In war there are rules of engagement, and on the playground you never hit below the belt. Same thing goes with a heated argument; you need to learn how to fight fair. Dr. Potter-Efron lists some cheap shots to avoid:
- Don’t run away from the issue. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
- Don’t overgeneralize. “You’re always late.”
- Don’t be dismissive. “Whatever!”
- Don’t get stuck in the past. “I’ll never forget what you said last year.”
Staying active is an excellent way to de-stress your body and mind. You’ll be less likely to overreact to annoyances and you’ll enjoy the benefit of a healthy lifestyle. “Go ahead and do something athletic, like sports, but make sure it’s an activity with a beginning, middle and end so you don’t end up hitting a punching bag for 5 hours straight,” says Dr. Potter-Efron.