I have always dealt with uncontrollable provocations of anger, usually in response to minor setbacks in my day to day life, such as being cut off in traffic or having my time wasted for various logistical reasons. It often involves cursing very loudly and saying all kinds of extreme epithets about the culprit du jour and stomping around, e.g. slamming doors loudly or slamming things onto the table. Many of these are caused by the annoyances of some technologicla device, which I slam onto a floor and break violently into pieces, as if to punish it.
I think, as a child, my anger was not so intense, but it recently became more intense as an adult. Sometimes, I find myself cursing loudly in public because I am irritated that I, say, got on the wrong train. In the past, I would have been too embarrassed to have other people hear me, but now when I get very angry, my compulsion to be loud overwhelms even that restraint.
I personally have found the following tips helpful for curbing anger:
- Laugh and have some childlike levity about the situation, and about life in general. When I am in the heat of the moment and start laughing, it automatically changes the vibe of the environment. And it is usually easy to laugh because I am, in that moment, acting so cartoonishly and obnoxiously angry that one cannot help but laugh. Sometimes I can even laugh at the actual discomfort of my situation and what caused me to be angry about it, that is laugh at the absurdity of it and sort of laugh “in awe” at the power of it to sway my emotions with such acceleration. Funnily, the more angry and theatrical your anger, the better this advice works.
- Allow yourself to do the yelling and cursing and slamming. That is fine as an outlet, although one should be careful about doing this in front of other people who may become scared or confused. But, after doing this, you can pause and meditate on what you are feeling, and the anger will start subsiding in that moment. Sometimes, as said above, an unintuitive thing can happen. The more obnoxious the yelling and cursing is, the easier it is to calm myself down, often by reflecting on the above tip and laughing at how obnoxious it was.
- Acknowledge that time and money are not important, and should not be the source of your anger. In my normal life, I am very frugal and stingy, and hate having my money wasted for no reason, even if it is a small amount. I also hate having my time wasted even 10 minutes, e.g. in traffic. However, when I am really angry, I try not to let these things remain the source of my anger. If there is a straightforward way to alleviate the situation by expensing money or time (e.g., I have to go to the store and buy this $50 super-special cleaner to clean this mess on my rug for 45 minutes), then I might still be angry, but I try to truly let go of the “$50” and the “45 minutes” as quickly as possible. If I am still angry, I let myself by angry. But, usually, by letting go of the anxiety about money or the anxiety aobut time, I find the anger has already subsided. In fact, I usually find I quite appreciate having 45 minutes to take a rest while cleaning the rug and contemplate various things.
- In much the same vein as (3), appreciate the opportunities in your life to slow down and take a break, even if it is to handle something unsavory that is not your fault.
- Treat people or inanimate objects like animals or children, that is with tenderness and a wizened non-judgmental objectivity. That is, don’t take anything personally. I tend to be very snarky, sarcastic, and cynical when it comes to other people’s mainstream lifestyle choices. This doesn’t really start as anger per se, but it can quickly devolve into anger when it affects my life. For example, maybe someone really cares about how we are dressed at some occasion because they are really anxious about their social standing. I don’t care about how I am dressed and perceived, and become first annoyed and then venomously irate about having to accommodate this other person’s anxieties. It is easy to start cursing them out and insulting every disagreement I have with their identity. However, we would consider a parent who curses out their child and gets inappropriately angry at every little mishap to be an immature and irresponsible parent. We would similarly consider a pet owner who curses out their pet and starts throwing things around the house. The pet or child is not even going to comprehend why you are angry. They are not even really sentient, merely operating on whims and sensations which predate them by millennia. What about a person who destroys and commits violence against their computer, or other inanimate objects, for being the source of their annoyance? This is even less reasonable, because the culprit is truly inanimate and cannot respond to anything you do. However, other people in real life have sensations which ebb and flow with yours, and if you are angry they will, like a child or pet, react and often become scared or defensive. We should treat other adults and technology and inanimate objects like we treat children, with tenderness and care. I think we should not be so quick to be violent (either physically or verbally/emotionally). There is this strange belief that we have as adults earned “the right” to not be tender with other adults or with inanimate objects because “they can take it”, but alas we are all children, and still growing and making mistakes, and still being unconsciously swayed by mysterious forces since time immemorial. Appreciating this fact has made me much more empathetic towards other people, and become less angry about having to make sacrifices or accommodate other people’s anxieties.