We have all been there. A conversation becomes heated, we get angry, we say something that we wouldn’t have said in a normal state of mind, and instantly regret it, Does this sound familiar?
Anger can have a significant impact on the way we speak to other people. We need to be more aware of how our emotions affect us.
How Anger Affects What We Say
Anger causes Us to Act Now and Think Later
When we are angry, we tend to act before truly thinking things through. We are in a constant state of fight or flight, which prevents us from fully processing the things that come out of our mouths. This response is why we often instantly regret something we said while angry.
Anger Makes Us Irrational
Anger also causes us to say and do things that aren’t necessarily rational. We don’t think things through because anger is clouding our judgment, and we often make incorrect decisions.
Anger Affects Our Memory
Studies have found that anger can significantly increase memory error. In addition, they found that angry people also tend to be more confident in their memory.
The combination of memory error and memory confidence can cause an angry person to make mistakes in their recollection of events and hurt someone else. For more information on this study, check out this post from PsyPost.
How People Deal with Anger
To really get at the heart of what this means, we need to look at the psychology of anger. More specifically, we need to understand the ways in which people deal with anger. According to the American Psychological Association, we deal with anger in three ways: expressing, suppressing, or calming.
Dealing with anger by expressing that anger in a positive way can be very beneficial. However, we often express anger in an aggressive manner.
That aggression is often aimed at someone or something unrelated to what initially caused us to be angry in the first place. Expressing aggression in response to anger can cause us to hurt someone we care about by saying something we don’t mean.
Another way of dealing with anger is suppressing it. Suppressing anger involves keeping your emotions inside and trying to focus on something else. This may sound good at first, but we do not want to suppress anger for several reasons.
Suppressed Anger Can Turn on You
When we don’t deal with anger, it can cause numerous issues due to the buildup of stress in the body. These issues can be both mental and physical. For a full list, check out this article from Better Health.
Suppressed Anger Comes Out Eventually
Suppressed anger may be okay for a little while, but eventually, it comes out in other ways. You may begin to act passive-aggressively towards the people in your life, or you may hurt others by constantly pointing out their flaws.
How to Prevent Saying Something You’ll Regret
The good news is that there are several ways we can work towards preventing ourselves from saying things we don’t mean. Let’s begin the journey today to stop hurting the ones we love while angry. Here are a few steps to get you started.
1. Recognize When You Are Angry
The first step is to recognize when you are angry. You need to make yourself more aware of your own mental and emotional state at all times but especially when negative events occur. Being aware of your emotions will help you to prevent harm.
2. Practice Deep Breathing
A great way to calm yourself when angry is by practicing deep breathing. Deep breathing decreases our heart rate and relaxes our muscles. One deep breathing strategy said to work well is breathing in for four counts, holding your breath for four counts, and then breathing out for four counts.
3. Separate Yourself from the Situation
If deep breathing isn’t working, another great strategy is to remove yourself from the situation when you feel like your anger is getting the better of you. Taking 10 to 15 minutes away can prevent you from saying something on impulse and allow you to calm down.
4. Pause Before Speaking
There are some situations where we cannot leave and don’t have the time to practice deep breathing. In these situations, it is important that we at least pause before speaking.
Pausing allows us to take a moment to consider what we are about to say before it actually leaves our mouth. It’s key when your decision-making capabilities are hindered by emotion.
5. Keep Track of Your Triggers
When you are angry, there are certain things that will trigger you into lashing out against someone else. If you can identify your triggers, you will be better prepared to handle them in the future. Every time you notice a specific statement or action that amplifies your anger, write it down.
6. Create a Plan for How You Can Deal with Your Anger
Intention without a plan is just that, an intention. Create a plan for how to deal with your anger when you are in a calm and relaxed state. Making a plan ahead of time makes it easier for you to respond to anger in a more productive and positive way the next time it arises.
Final thoughts on anger
A bitter heart influences the things we say to other people. We must learn to control our tongue when we feel angry to prevent hurting the people we love the most. If you have often found yourself filled with regret after an argument or angry outburst, you must learn to control your anger in order to improve your relationship with yourself and others.