How To Never Get Angry: 3 New Secrets From Neuroscience
Eric Barker stashed this in Diabolical Plans For World Domination
Suppressing Anger Is Rarely A Good Idea
You grit your teeth and hold it in: “I’m fine.”
The good news is suppression works. You can bottle up your feelings and not look angry. However…
It’s almost always a bad idea. Yes, it prevents the anger from getting out, but when you fight your feelings they only get stronger.
When you try to stop yourself from crying, the tears aren’t cathartic. You don’t feel better afterward.
And anger is no different. What happens in the brain when you try to clamp down on that rage? A whole mess of bad stuff.
Your ability to experience positive feelings goes down — but not negative feelings. Stress soars. And your amygdala (a part of the brain closely associated with emotions) starts working overtime.
And here’s what’s really interesting: when you suppress your feelings, the encounter gets worse for the angry person, too.
You clamp down on your emotions and the other person’s blood pressure spikes. And they like you less. Studies show that over the long haul this can lead to lousy relationships that aren’t as rewarding.
And fighting your feelings uses a lot of willpower. So afterwards you have less control and that’s why you’re more likely to do things you regret after you’re angry.
Your anger is often a response to the situation as you perceive it.
How to get rid of anger:
- Suppress rarely. They may not know you’re angry but you’ll feel worse inside and hurt the relationship.
- Don’t vent. Communication is good but venting just increases anger. Distract yourself.
- Reappraisal is usually the best option. Think to yourself, “It’s not about me. They must be having a bad day.”
Sometimes someone gets under your skin and suppression is the only thing you can do to avoid a homicide charge. And sometimes reappraisal can cause you to tolerate bad situations you need to get out of.
But that said, telling yourself a more compassionate story about what’s going on inside the other person’s head is usually the best way to go.
And what’s the final step in getting rid of that anger over the long haul so you can maintain good relationships?
It’s not for them, it’s for you. Forgiveness makes you less angry and more healthy:
Trait forgiveness was significantly associated with fewer medications and less alcohol use, lower blood pressure and rate pressure product; state forgiveness was significantly associated with lower heart rate and fewer physical symptoms. Neither of these sets of findings were the result of decreased levels of anger-out being associated with forgiveness. These findings have important theoretical implications regarding the forgiveness–health link, suggesting that the benefits of forgiveness extend beyond the dissipation of anger.
As the old saying goes: Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
So remember: “They’re just having a bad day.”
By reappraising your situation, you can alter your own emotional response.
It takes practice.