10 Strategies for Not Losing Your Temper
Losing your temper is never as rewarding a strategy as it appears half a second before letting something rip that you simply can't take back. It's the kind of bell you can't un-ring, and the repercussions are – typically – more severe than the problem that got you ticked off in the first place.
But it's so easy to fly off the handle! Kids, spouse, customer service, colleagues at work - the list of situations and people with the power to set us off is endless.
There's got to be something guys can do to reign themselves in when going over the edge appears inevitable. Most of our relationships can't afford another round of "Mr. Fly-off-the-Handle goes bonkers once again." It's time to lock it down.
Don't despair! There's a lot we can do to pull ourselves back when we're about to lose our grip. But we have to have some useful alternatives in mind ahead of time, have a few options readily available, and have a fallback plan ready to go. Here are ten suggestions to get the ball rolling:
- Perspective: Anger typically comes from a very narrow place; expanding your view usually dilutes the intensity. Will you go hungry tonight? Do you have a terminal illness? Remembering what is important can help check your temper.
- Imagine yourself as a three year old – visualize yourself having a tantrum: Try not to laugh out loud when you do this. It could annoy the other person!
- Do something incompatible with losing temper: Some guys sing a song (in their head); some make a cup of coffee; some guys read a favorite passage of Scripture or a "feel-good" wise saying; others pop in their ear-buds and listen to George Harrison sing "Hear Comes the Sun" or Louis Armstrong croon "I think to myself, it's a wonderful world." Bottom line, you can't go up and down at the same time.
- Walk away: Simplistic solution? Yes. But taking time to collect yourself is always a good thing. If you are really angry, go for a run.
- Call your mother: Or your best friend, or your pastor, or anyone you trust. Point is, refocus and allow yourself to be re-directed.
- Offer to get the other party a cool glass of water – then have one yourself while you're at it: We're talking about the application of grace. It's tough to be over-the-top angry when you are serving the object of your wrath.
- Pray: Religious or not, this is a great strategy! A) You've shifted focus B) God now has your attention C) Prayer is incompatible with losing your temper.
- Count backwards from ten but with this twist: You've heard of count to ten. Now try counting backwards. It requires more concentration. Plus, imagine one alternative to blowing up for every number: Ten – "I could write a letter to his supervisor." Nine – "I could tell him about the time I was a kid and broke a window with a baseball." Eight – "twinkle, twinkle, little star…." Seven – "I wonder what would happen if I apologized, even though I'm in the right?"
- Inhale slowly, hold your breath for five seconds, then completely exhale slowly and wait five seconds before repeating the inhale and exhale three times: This physiological exercise is proven to reduce pulse rate and lower blood pressure. That might be all it takes for the temper temptation to pass.
- Write this list on an index card and put it in your wallet for immediate reference: The odds are good that you won't have to read more than two or three suggestions before losing your temper seems a poor option, given the alternatives.
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