Angry? Tips to Calm Down on the Spot
          Reacting instantly with anger is where we often get ourselves in trouble. Recognize that you can be angry, but you don’t have to act angry. So when you find yourself becoming angry with another family member while in his or her presence, it’s important that you take some time out to give yourself a chance to cool off and think before you act. If you’re having trouble interrupting your anger, you may find one of the following techniques helpful:
  • Avoid your first impulse. In many cases you will feel like lashing out. Don’t. Avoid doing what the other person expects you to do; this will just reinforce the person’s behavior that you find disturbing. Do the opposite of what you feel like doing (or do nothing at all).
  • Walk away whenever possible. Don’t walk away in a huff, just remove yourself from the situation. You could say, “I don’t think this is the best time to talk about this so I’m going to take some time out. Maybe we can talk about it later when we both feel better.”
  • Tell yourself calming phrases. Create and memorize calming phrases such as “calm down,” “take it easy,” “keep your cool,” “chill out,” “cool off.” Develop some of your own calming phrases.
  • Count to ten. This old technique can be very helpful. By concentrating on the counting, you can calm yourself down, become aware of your body language and think of an appropriate response.
  • Visualize. Create some peaceful scenes in your mind, such as a lake, the oceanside , or whatever you find calming. Keep these visualizations handy to manage your angry feelings.
  • Tell yourself to stop. You may have to call a halt to your anger before you can use the other techniques we mentioned above. Silently (in your head) shout “stop” when you notice yourself becoming angry. Then tell yourself calming phrases, count to ten, or use your peaceful visualization.
          Telling yourself to stop is not suppressing your anger. When you tell yourself to stop, you’re taking charge – you’re making a decision not to allow your anger to escalate and do harm. You also provide yourself an opportunity to handle the situation and your anger in another way.
          Everyone gets angry at times and has a right to feel anger. You’re not a bad person for feeling angry. Consider what course of action would best address the situation. What can you choose to do or not, to help solve the problem or improve the situation or relationship?
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Adapted from Calming the Family Storm: Anger Management for Moms, Dads, and All the Kids by Dr. Gary D. McKay and Dr. Steven A. Maybell. Available at online and local book­stores or directly from Impact Publishers, PO Box 6016, Atascadero, CA  93423-6016, www.bibliotherapy.com or phone 1-800-246-7228.