[Case Study] How To Be a Calm Person and Avoid Anger Management

I have a short fuse. At one moment, I can be this happy dude smiling around and acting like I love the world and everybody living in it, but on the next moment, I can turn into this screaming, red-faced guy who, thank god, don’t have access to lethal weaponry. I thought about my crisis situations after their gone, which usually happens really fast, and the only pattern I can find is an absence of control. When I lose control of a certain situation which for some reasons is important to me, I get really frustrated. Other times I simply get pissed from morons (e.g., people who don’t turn their blinker when they drive). I spent more time researching and writing this case study because it’s really important for me to learn how to avoid getting angry.

Anger is a highly intense emotion which might result in a really nasty outcome – even deadly if things get really out of hand. By definition, anger is a strong feeling that makes you want to hurt someone or be unpleasant because of something unfair or unkind that has happened.1 On a lot of occasions, anger occurs when we feel that our personal boundaries are violated. For example, a new neighbor has parked in our parking spot, or a stranger slaps, touches, or even look at your girlfriend’s back muscles in a way you don’t like.

You may even think why we humans carry this feeling at all? Well, it was something we really needed back in the days. When lions, wolves, and other deadly animals were ambushing us throughout our busy days of gathering food, which was necessary to keep the clan going. Anger is a natural, and mature emotion experienced by virtually all humans at times, and it acts as something that has functional value for survival. If a wildcat pops out of the bush, you do not want to cuddle with her, you want to run away or hurt her before it hurt you. That’s something natural in the wild world – you either kill, or you’re being killed. The days have long passed when we had to kill with our bare hands in order to sustain our living. Now, our anger is rather a disadvantage than anything else.

 

THE PROBLEM

When a person is angered he will naturally seek to attack others. When we are angry, we care less about other people and we’ll more readily hurt them. In fact, when we are angry, our values change – from “be nice to others”, it transforms into “inflict harm on others.”

Even though anger seems like something against which we need to get a vaccine, it’s still helpful on some occasions. Mainly, when we’re attacked by someone or we’re in a situation where we need to act fast – a car accident or natural disaster.

 

What’s actually going on inside our body when we’re angry?

When were ambushed, or someone cut us off the freeway, the amygdala, which response to outside stimulations process the situations and releases neurotransmitters called catecholamines.2 This chemical reaction fills your body with energy and prepares you for a fight. At this stage, you can imagine the steam coming out of a saucepan placed on a hot plate, or a red-hot iron ready for processing. Additionally, the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine are also released increasing your blood pressure, heart rate which also clouds your thinking and your face can even turn red.3

There are a lot of occasions in which we actually need to feel anger. Like Hulk in the famous comic series – his angered triggered him to become this green best and fight criminals. Whether we like it or not, we all bump into situations where we need to defend ourselves – e.g., being attacked on the street.

However, we occasionally feel this burst of energy in events that are not threatening to our lives. Some of the most common events that cause our face to turn read are:

  • When a person around us breaks the rules established by humanity. Example: stealing, cursing, when you’ve been waiting in line for ten minutes and someone cuts the line in front of you.
  • When a person around us breaks the rules established by us or messes around with our personal possessions. Example: someone rearranging your book collection, someone parking on your spot, someone drawing dicks on your notebook.
  • When things are not working the way you’ve so carefully planned. Example: your not able to come to work on time, you’re not promoted despite the fact you work so hard, your website is not getting any visitors despite the fact you work so hard.

Mainly, anger comes from lack of availability to control a certain situation. I easily become angry at my girlfriend when I wait for her to get prepared for going out for too long. To be honest, this pisses me off. Unfortunately, I don’t have control over the situation and when I tell her to act quickly, things usually escalate into a situation where we don’t go out. Rather, we stay home and fight.

Constant chronic anger will not only ruin your relationship with other people, no, there is more to that. It can also greatly increase a person chance of getting heart disease like high blood pressure or heart attacks. Anger and your hearth are connected. This is because epinephrine and norepinephrine construct blood vessels making your heart pump harder.4 This can speed up the process to a lot of damaging outcomes to your body, even death.

Fear not, there are a lot of ways of staying calm under pressure. Below I will list the best practices executed by fellows who previously had issues with that issue.

 

LEARN HOW TO BE A CALM PERSON

Staying calm under pressure it’s not an easy task. As I already mentioned, it’s also quite a struggle for me as well. I’ve tried, and I’m still trying different techniques that will potentially make me a more laid back person. It’s hard, I am sure you know it also if you’re reading this post.

The suggestions below are focused mainly on helping you be calmer and understanding individual around the people you love and care about. You can still get angry when someone curses at you, though.

 

PROPOSED SOLUTIONS

Short term solutions:

Actually, talk – The next time your husband forgets to throw out the trash, don’t put poison in his tea or attack him like a wildcat. Instead, with a really calm voice, explain to him that this is something that really bothers you and ask him, politely, to be more responsible when doing this chore. Before you do it, take a couple of big deep breaths, make sure you’re not nervous. Otherwise, the situation might turn into a movie scene.

Act instantly – Whenever you feel angry, you need to act immediately and prevent yourself from turning into a cursing asshole. Take a deep breath, count to 10, 20, 30, get out of the room and scream out loud, splash your face with water, these kinds of things. As explained previously, anger causes an adrenaline rush. You need to find a way to vent it off.

Rubber band on your hand – I used this method to quit smoking. Every time you get that feeling of annoyance, pull the rubber band on your hand, so that will hit you and hurt you a bit. It’s very basic and primitive method. Still, it works on a lot of occasions. The pain will bring your mind back to the real world, where people don’t kill people just because they didn’t wash the dishes.

Long-term solutions:

Become aware of your problem – Firstly, you have to admit to yourself that there is a problem. How to know that there is a problem? Well, if your blood is boiling on a daily basis, and if you’re fighting with the same guy/girl/guys over and over again, then, there is definitely a problem. There is a slight chance that you’re only part of the problem – your spouse, for example, might need to understand her/his problem as well. Still, you need to acknowledge that there is a problem and work on resolving this.

Search for what triggers you – A lot of things may cause a chemical reaction in your body, resulting in flames bursting from your ears. Search for the trigger. There is surely a pattern. As I mentioned, I get really angry when it takes too long for my girl to get prepared for going out. That’s why, when I am ready, I walk downstairs and wait for her in the car. This way I avoid watching her doing her hair for 30 minutes.

Anger management – I actually wanted to mention something different from anger management. As you saw, my headline is called, “How To Be a Calm Person and Avoid Anger Management.” And I don’t want to mislead you. Instead of paying someone money to listen to your problems, discuss them with your closest friend. If you’re getting angry from exactly this guy/girl, then, discuss them with your mother (or another person). Invite them to dinner or go for a walk. Tell them that there is something bothering you and let your emotions to the rest. It’s worse if you conserve the feeling deep inside. At some point, they will burst out like a volcano.

Schedule meetings – I saw that in a movie once and I think it’s something that really works. Schedule meetings with the person you’re having problems with to discuss. Do them on neutral ground. Meaning, don’t see each other in your own houses. You want to avoid words like, “get out of my home.” It’s best to see each other in a coffee shop or in the park.

Meditation – When I hear the word meditation, I imagine a guy standing in a funny pose and praying, which is far from reality. Meditation is more of a self-examination. You schedule a time to be alone with yourself, away from everything else. Meditation can be defined as a practice where an individual focuses his mind on a particular object, thought or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. For example, you can choose to have a session with yourself, to talk about your anger issues. Take deep breaths and investigating the cause of your problem. It’s something that I’ve been practicing for a while now and I must admit that’s actually working.5

Exercising – We eat regularly, why don’t we exercise regularly? Working out daily help in a lot of ways. It will not only help you keep your body in a good shape, but it will also help you regulate your emotions, thus be a calmer person. Screaming out loud will surely decrease the epinephrine, but going out for a run it’s the better alternative.

Keep a journalKeeping a personal journal will help you in a lot of ways, not only to control your anger. You can use it to write down moments, people, or situations that frustrate you. By expressing these emotions on paper, you’re venting off. It’s a way to speak with yourself about the problems you’re experiencing and asking yourself questions that might help you avoid chronic anger. Over time, by going through your journal, you may find the thing that triggers your anger.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

While it’s impossible to be always calm, it’s something you need to practice in order to maintain your relationship with other people. Screaming, yelling, or hitting the garbage can standing in your way, can help you reduce stress but will surely backfire.

When we first started living together with my girlfriend, we were constantly fighting for little things: “why aren’t you cleaning after yourself, why are you sleeping till noon, why did you put salt in the salad, who is that guy liking your posts.” Mainly, stupid things which after few minutes turn into a disaster. We probably “split up” more than a hundred times. In most of the cases, I was the problem. I’m a guy who likes things to go his way, and it was extremely hard for me to conform to another person. Even if I love this person.

The below is probably the dumbest reason I got angry at my girl:

I blamed my girlfriend for not giving me enough time to write. I thought that if I am alone, I will have more time to focus on my websites. Of course, that wasn’t the case. I was my own problem. When I was alone at home, I did everything else but writing. It was simply easier for me to blame her.

So the first thing that I will recommend doing, is to search for the reasons that annoy you, inside of yourself. What’s your trigger? What’s the reason you get angry? Also, for what kind of things you most often blame others for: not cleaning after themselves, not working hard enough, not driving careful enough?

One of the things I learned from the book Anxiety by Fritz Rieman, is that people who are obsessed with cleaning, have actually dirty minds – like nasty sexual thoughts. Subconsciously, they try to clean these dirty thoughts. What I mean, is that probably, you’re getting frustrated with someone only because you see your own flaws in him.

Once you’re exposed to a situation that might irritate you, or you’re the person standing in front of someone who is screaming at you, take a moment to examine the situation from a different angle. Probably the reason this guy/girl is angry at you is not your problem. Think about this: “He has issues with himself, not with me.” You might as well ask him/her, “what’s wrong?” Like the first scene from the famous movie Limitless:6

Ask yourself the same question: “What’s wrong? Why this annoys me so much?”

After I realized that the main reason I was getting annoyed with my girlfriend was caused by my own working habits, I started looking at things differently: “I’m not actually angry at her. I’m angry at me for not being able to focus on a particular task long enough.” That made me think about my habits and search for ways to be more productive (this will be a whole new case study). Currently, I do several things daily to be a more balanced guy:

  • I exercise every day.
  • I update my journal daily.
  • I eat healthier food.
  • I use a meditation app and I play classical music while I’m writing.
  • I do have a rubber band on my hand and I use it.

While I still get frustrated sometimes, I now stop and take a moment to analyze the situation. It doesn’t only give me time to cool off, but it also gives me time to look at situations from a different perspective.

 

FINAL WORDS

There is always some sort of event that happens right before someone gets angry that serves as the trigger (e.g., being cut off in traffic, being insulted by a coworker). Typically, you will think that your anger is caused by these situations and you’ll say things like, “I got mad because I got cut off by the driver in front of me” or “that guy made me so mad.” The implication here is that those events caused their anger directly, and there were no other mitigating factors. Of course, we know that can’t be true. If it were, everyone would respond the same way to such situations. In other words, we would all react the same when we were cut off in traffic or when we were insulted.

However, we’re not the same. You might get frustrated when someone cut you off when you’re waiting in line, but your closes friend might act like it never happened. So, what’s the difference in the above situations? You are. We all have different things that annoy us and we all act differently to express these feelings.

Bottom line: you must search deep inside yourself, in order to find the reason you get so mad on different occasions. That’s the secret for staying calm under pressure.

 


Footnotes:

  1. Directly copy pasted from the Cambridge dictionary – LINK
  2. Neurotransmitters play a major role in shaping everyday life and functions. They are also known as chemical messengers. They transmit signals through our body.
  3. The reason our face turns red is caused by the increased heart rate. The blood starts to circles faster and closer to the surface of our skin, which is, in our case, face.
  4. Exactly what kept Jason Statement alive in the movie Crank – LINK. Of course, he had to cure himself fast before dying from the drug or from too much adrenaline. Great movie. The sequel sucked though.
  5. I will definitely recommend trying an app called, Headspace – LINK.
  6. It’s one my favorite movies

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