“People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing.” Will Rogers

Try these 10 solutions whenever anger starts to cause problems in your relationships or your life.

1. Practice mindfulness.
Become a witness to your anger emotions without judgment. Anger need not be harmful. You may identify and experience anger without choosing destructive behavior.

YOU CHOOSE YOUR RESPONSE. Choose dignity. Spend time each day mindful of your decision not to cause harm with your anger. Learn from your success. You can control yourself. Continue to notice your improvements.

Example A: When I arrived home from work and found my apartment in a mess, instead of my usual blaming, shaming and yelling, I decided to take a shower, cool off and then think about why I was feeling so angry.

Example B: Rather then becoming defensive or angry when my partner criticized me, I remembered to breathe and to listen without reacting emotionally. I took the time to calm myself down. Then I was able to address the criticism constructively by problem-solving. I treated my partner as I wish to be treated.

2. Create a safe house.
Establish rules prohibiting emotional, verbal and physical abuse in your home. Refuse to allow harm through words or actions. Discuss the safe house rules with all who frequent your home. Post these rules on your refrigerator as a daily reminder.

“Anger is one letter short of danger” Author Unknown

Compose your own safe house contract. Ask members of your household to help. Include everyone’s signature in agreement with the safe house rules.

Example: Only loving hands, kind words and helpful actions are welcomed in this home. No yelling, cussing, name-calling or disrespect allowed. There will be no pushing, slapping, shoving or hitting. We will treat others as we wish to be treated. We will speak only as we wish to be spoken to. This home is a loving, nurturing, safe haven to all who live and visit here.
Signed: Peter, Lois, Meg, Chris, Stewie, & Brian Griffin

3. Stop blaming.
If you were not busy blaming others, what “right action” would you be taking? You may not choose everything that happens to you, but you may choose your response to what happens to you.

Example: I used to blame the traffic when I was late. Once I took responsibility for my time management, I stopped blaming my tardiness on traffic. I decided to problem-solve. Now that I factor in potential traffic delays, I’m rarely late.

Helpful steps to avoid the blame game:
* Remember that anger triggers blame.
* Blame creates outward focus.
* Outward focus is the opposite of insight.
* Insight means wisdom.
* If blame is the opposite of wisdom, then blame is not wise. Consider yourself stupid each time you blame others. It’s best that you keep your thoughts to yourself when you are angry so the stupid doesn’t leak out. (For more information, See “Zip it” rule, Solution #4).

4. Zip it.
“I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.” Author Unknown

Never speak in anger. An angry tone of voice rarely leads to positive communication. Your anger causes others to respond with fight, flight or freeze. People become defensive, attack back, tune out, clam up, shut down or run. If the message you wish to convey when you are angry is truly brilliant, that message will remain brilliant when you no longer feel angry. Save your dignity by holding your tongue.

5. Remember to breathe.
Increasing the oxygen supply to your brain allows you to regain control of your emotions and make better choices. Breathing also helps you avoid blame and remember to “Zip It.” Continued practice of mindful breathing also helps you honor your safe house contract.

6. Prevent blow ups.
Making sure that you are rested, pain free and have stable blood sugar will prevent the irritability caused by health problems.

7. Search for the lessons beneath your anger.
The presence of anger is a clue that you are not feeling peaceful. Something in your life is out of balance. Is there something deeper that you need to address? Poor coping skills? Is it time to take a nap or have a cookie?

Example: “I felt angry when I came home to a messy apartment. Okay, honestly, the messy apartment was just the surface issue. I was really upset because I felt overwhelmed and frustrated about myself. The mess reminded me that I am not who I want to be. I throw tantrums. My life feels out of control. I feel like I’m a mess. My anger let me blame others and distracted me from making the changes I needed to make.”

Example: “Most of my anger stemmed from my narcissistic entitlement. I got angry when people didn’t respond the way I thought they should. I now realize that people have the right to make their own choices. They also have the right to tell me “no.”

8. Avoid alcohol and illegal drug use.
Do not ingest anything that might trigger an “out of control” response. You need healthy brain cells to manage your anger effectively.

Example: A pattern of becoming angry, argumentative or irritable when you are buzzed, drunk, high or hung-over should be discussed with an addiction specialist.

Consider attending one of the free 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Alanon, or Adult Child of Alcoholics (ACOA) meetings in your community to address a problem with your life or the life of a beloved becoming unmanageable because of drugs or alcohol.

9. Transform anger to insight.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Buddha

Spend time observing your thoughts without reacting with strong emotions. Observe whether or not your thoughts and expectations are aligned with reality. You won’t feel so angry, afraid or uptight when you use reality checks.

10. Laugh.
Have fun. A sense of humor is a great anger management tool. Create a list of fun events. Know what makes you laugh. Prioritize time for laughter and fun. Mark your calendar for events you enjoy each season of the year.

Take these simple steps to see how much happier you become when you avoid letting your anger take over.

Author's Bio: 

Telka Arend-Ritter M.S.W., A.C.S.W. A graduate of Michigan State University, has practiced individual and group therapy, and facilitated workshops, seminars, and classes for the past 25 years. She is the author and facilitator of Life Solutions Stress Management Series an 11 session, solution-focused, cognitive-behavioral group therapy program designed specifically for the treatment of anger, mood disorders, PTSD, poor self-confidence, passivity, relationship problems, divorce adjustment, parenting concerns, self-defeating behaviors, addictions, and stress. Telka's 11 session program incorporates the use of her self-help workbook, Change Your Thoughts, Heal Your Life. A native of Michigan, Telka married her college sweetheart, a psychologist and now also her business partner.

They have one adult daughter who is also a Spartan.