Have you ever reacted to something that your loved one, a colleague or friend said to you in such a sharp and angry tone that you even surprised yourself? When certain buttons are pushed it can create feelings of anger. In an instant you may find yourself unleashing your emotions as if you were an angry tiger suddenly jolted out of a deep slumber. Such is the difficulty of managing feelings when your instinct to react defensively is triggered.

For some people angry outbursts may be an infrequent occurrence. For others irritability and quick anger occur too often. While the emotion of anger is normal and appropriate in certain situations, when anger gets out of control it creates problems.

The key to managing your emotions including anger; is to be aware of your emotions while allowing wisdom and logic to guide your responses. If you are thinking, “That’s easily said, not easily done.” You are correct, it takes practice but it is indeed possible to gain control of your emotions. Here’s how:

Press The Pause Button

You may have heard the suggestion to count to 10 to help calm yourself. There is something useful about that approach. It allows you a window of time to apply the brakes so you can BREATHE. When you intentionally pause and breathe for a while, it gives your brain and your body a chance to calm down. It allows you to get back in the driver’s seat so that you can think through your next response.

Take A “Big Picture” Perspective

Consider the current situation, how does the reaction you are on the verge of unleashing fit into the bigger picture of your values and your goals? For example if your spouse has just said something irritating and you are now livid, if you explode, does that explosion help or hinder in reaching the goals you have for your relationship?

Use Logic To Guide Your Response

The best way to respond is to acknowledge your emotions while allowing wisdom and logic to guide you. By doing so you will be able to honestly share your feelings in an appropriate way. When you are calm, you are more in control of what you say and how you say it. You are also in a better position to hear the other person in a more objective and compassionate manner.

Sometimes it takes a little while to reach this place of calm. It’s beneficial to allow yourself a time-out. Doing so gives you space and time to get back in control of your feelings. It also allows you the time to refocus your perspective on what is most important in your relationship. It also helps you to avoid getting caught up in petty arguments that in the long run can damage your relationship.

Learning how to manage your reactions when you become upset is challenging, but it is a very important skill that you can master. Pressing pause, looking at the big picture and responding in a logical manner are the steps to achieving this. Undoubtedly it will take time to restrain the natural instinct to lash out defensively. More than likely there will be times when you will fall back into old habits of reacting harshly. This does not mean that you are a failure at this. Just keep working at it. Your relationship is worth it.