Cure your anger with empathy and self-awareness

Instructions

  1. Change your perspective
    Say someone in another car cuts dangerously close to you as you are driving on the freeway. If your reflexive thought is “That son of a bitch!” it matters immensely for the trajectory of rage whether that thought is followed by more thoughts of outrage and revenge: “He could have hit me! That bastard—I can’t let him get away with that!” Contrast that sequence of building rage with a more charitable line of thought toward the driver who cut you off: “Maybe he didn’t see me, or maybe he had some good reason for driving so carelessly, such as a medical emergency.”
  2. Step out of your anger loop
    The longer you ruminate about what has made you angry, the more “good reasons” and self-justifications for being angry you can invent. Brooding fuels anger’s flames. But seeing things differently douses those flames. Reframing a situation more positively was one of the most potent ways to put anger to rest.
  3. Try to rephrase the situation before you act on it
    Anger can be completely short-circuited if the mitigating information comes before the anger is acted on.
  4. Cool yourself down
    Do relaxation methods such as deep breathing and muscle relaxation. Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan teacher’s advice on how to handle anger: “Don’t suppress it. But don’t act on it.”

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