4 Steps to Controlling Your Anger Triggers
Do you ever find yourself feeling irritated, frustrated, ticked off, or downright angry? We all do at one or another. Knowing your anger triggers for what sets you off will go a long way to controlling them before they spiral out of control.
Everyone has their own little quirks, usually these go to expectations for how we would like people to act or respond, as well as how we would like situations to play out. Triggers are what set you off to feeling a state of anger; these depend on who is involved and how high the stakes are.
You could probably list your own triggers right now—little stuff, such as clutter or having to wait around. Maybe you can’t stand a particular word or phrase, or you find it impossible to work if there’s noise.
The thing about triggers is that they’re often small things that tip you over the edge and, before you know it, you’ve lost your temper over something that in the scheme of things doesn’t really matter. Over time, without resolution of an earlier situation, the anger lead to explosive outbursts that can be damaging in thoughts and words.
Getting a handle on your anger will help you, and your relationships with others, mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Here are four steps you can take to manage your anger triggers better:
- Take control
The first thing is to realize that you are totally in control of how you react. Work out what your triggers are, and you can take your power back. You can anticipate and plan for situations where you know you’re likely to blow your top.
- Learn to read your body
Be conscious of how your anger manifests in your body. Likely your heart rate will go up, or your hands and jaw will clench. You might feel breathless or even get a stomachache, headache or back pain.
Tune into what your body is telling you, and you’ll learn to be able to stop the process of reacting. And remember the feelings themselves aren’t ‘bad’ but how you choose to respond to those feelings can be harmful, even destructive.
Instead of sweeping the papers off your desk onto the floor, or yelling, take a deep breath or go for a walk. Feeling triggered is often a result of low blood sugar, fatigue, or dehydration. Taking care of your physical needs can help you manage your emotional needs as well and make you more resilient to stresses and triggers.
- Identify what triggered you
Once you can interrupt the trigger response, you can start to work out what it was that set it off in the first place. Did you feel disrespected? Unheard? Were you mistreated or misunderstood? If someone pushed in front of you in the coffee line, what did that signal to you? That your needs aren’t important?
What about if someone talks over you or interrupts in a meeting? As well as being rude, you could feel sidelined, humiliated even. Triggers relate to our emotions, particularly negative ones so once you identify exactly what the emotion is, you can then find ways to get what you really want, i.e. from disrespect to respect etc.
- Choose your plan of action
Whatever your triggers might be, it’s totally up to you how you react. You can anticipate how you might feel and what you might do or say in response. Take a deep breath, detach from the situation, and focus on how you want to feel. You can choose to stay calm in triggering situations – it’s up to you. Scripting the situation, where you are ‘directing’ the scene will give you a different perspective and allow you to see how the action plan will play out; you won’t know what the other person(s) will do but it will give you more confidence to deal with that situation.
Anger is a natural state which really goes with being hurt by something that either someone did or did not do, or a scene did not play out the way we wanted it to.
Additionally, being in stress and overwhelm can lead to a form of anger and lashing out so, the more that you are aware of your triggers, the more you can educe these incidents from happening while being more in control of your thoughts and emotions.
It may take some time, but you can create a new habit with consistency. One last point – take deep breaths when your trigger arises to relax your brain and body.
Reach out if your find your having angry outburst or feel in overwhelm due to stress and anxiety; learn how we can help you develop relaxation and coping tools and strategies to get you more in control of your life.