Losing your temper is never as rewarding a strategy as we think it’ll be before letting something rip that you can’t take back. It’s like a bell you can’t un-ring, and the repercussions are typically more severe than the problem that ticked you 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. Do you know how to control your temper?
There is always something we can do to rein ourselves in, even when going over the edge feels inevitable. In fact, 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.
1. Keep proper perspective.Anger typically comes from a very narrow place; expanding your view usually dilutes the intensity.
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.
2. Imagine yourself as a three-year-old and visualize yourself having a tantrum.
Try not to laugh out loud when you do this. It could annoy the other person!
3. Do something incompatible with losing your temper.
Some guys sing a song (in their head), others make a cup of coffee, and some guys read a favorite passage of Scripture or a feel-good wise saying. There are others who pop in their earbuds and listen to their favorite song. The bottom line is you can’t go up and down at the same time.
4. 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.
5. Call your mother.
Or your best friend, your pastor, or anyone you trust. The point is to refocus and allow yourself to be re-directed.
6. Go and get a glass of water for the person (and yourself).
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 anger.
Religious or not, this is a great strategy! You’ve shifted focus, God now has your attention, and prayer is incompatible with losing your temper.
8. Count backward from 10—but with a twist.
You’ve heard of counting to 10. Now try counting backward. 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: “I wonder what would happen if I apologized, even though I’m in the right.”
9. Concentrate on breathing.
Inhale slowly and 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.
10. 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 like a poor option, given the alternatives.
Sound off: How do you control your temper?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is the best way to control yourself when you are feeling angry?”