How to break the cycle of anger

A parent who has a bad temper not only risks scarring the children, but also their children and those that follow. Expressing anger by yelling, swearing or throwing things is inappropriate.

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  • A parent who has a bad temper not only risks scarring the children, but also their children and those that follow. Expressing anger by yelling, swearing or throwing things is inappropriate. Expressing anger by hitting your spouse or your child is illegal and immoral. Here are some tips to help you control your anger.

  • Acknowledge the problem

  • No one with an anger management problem will make progress without acknowledging the issue. For me, it took years to come to terms with the fact that I had a bad temper. Ask yourself if you have made someone cry or get angry with you in the last 30 days. If so, you may have a problem and an opportunity to improve.

  • Commit to improve

  • Make your commitment to improve to those who are most impacted by your anger, likely your family and coworkers.

  • Stop blaming others

  • choose

  • It is easy to say “she made me mad” or “he made me do it.” Those are indefensible excuses. No one can make you mad; you may not even be aware of it, but you choose — in a flash — to be angry.

  • Measure your behavior

  • Create a tracking system that allows you to identify days when you lose your temper and assign each event a score. While your goal should be to eliminate outbursts completely, it may take years to achieve that. Track your performance to ensure that you are improving over time. If you don’t improve, seek professional help.

  • Analyze your behavior

  • Look at the events that set you off. Try to identify what those events have in common. Do you get angry at everyone when you are running late? Do you get annoyed when you are interrupted? Do you lose control when you drink? Do you hate being disrespected? First, work on identifying triggers, then try to change your patterns to avoid situations that tend to set you off.

  • Enlist help

  • Ask family, friends and colleagues to help you control your temper by using a code word to signal that you are getting angry. Often those close to you know how to recognize your anger before you do. Let them help you identify those times when you need to take a quick break to collect yourself before continuing.

  • Get counseling

  • If your family relationships are at risk, seek help from a professional counselor who can help you to overcome your anger issues before you lose your family.

  • Count to 10

  • When you feel angry, count to 10. It sounds crazy, but in the time it will take you to count to 10, you can throttle your anger, your language and your actions. Over the years, I’ve learned to count all the time. When the computer is slow, when the soda fountain is slow, when people are slow, count to 10. You can develop the habit to simply let the moment pass while you count.

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  • Remember the victims

  • Everyone who is subjected to your bad temper is a victim. Force yourself to make appropriate apologies when you behave badly. Don’t allow the apology to excuse the behavior in your mind.

  • Never abuse

  • If you have ever, or are afraid that your temper might lead you to abuse your spouse or children, seek help immediately. Don’t wait until a child has a broken arm or your spouse has a black eye. You and they stand to lose too much to ever let that happen (again).

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Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.


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