10 tips for Anger Management
Cheers, dear readers,
When our lifelong dreams are thwarted – especially seemingly through no fault of our own – it’s normal to feel angry. And dreaming about having a family is not just any dream – it is integral to what makes us human…
The time is right for you to start a family now and boom! – nature has another idea. How unjust! With only a small window for conception each month, if there is no pregnancy, we can become angry at our plight and shake our fist at both the marching of time and our luck. So many unanswered questions! Why aren’t we conceiving? When will we get a proper diagnosis and effective plan of action? How long will all of this take? Most people in your shoes feel overwhelmed and out of control. Meanwhile, you are surrounded by others having babies left and right – which can be quite difficult to endure. Your friends and family may have no idea that you are struggling through infertility and family creation while they seemingly find the process so easy and fun! Along the way, even the most well-meaning friends can make insensitive comments, whether they know about your struggle or not. In every way possible (physically, mentally, socially and spiritually), you’re in a crisis. It can feel debilitating yet there is so much to do. Why wouldn’t anger be normal when life as you knew it is now unrecognizable?
On your better days, your own determination may help you charge through to get to the other side of this nightmare. It’s possible also that you may feel closer to your partner because of this shared struggle. But on the bad days, your world can seem like it’s caving in on you, you may lose motivation to continue, and instead succumb to “marinating in your anger.”
The emotion of anger can be a response to unwanted or unexpected stressful circumstances. There is no doubt that infertility falls into this category. Having an angry outburst on occasion can certainly be a healthy and effective way to discharge some of this negative emotion. But suppressing the stress can often make it come out sideways when we are not properly prepared to deal with the consequences. Learning to effectively handle this emotion can definitely help you cope and soothe you in times of stress.
Here are some tips to deal with your anger in a positive way, so that it doesn’t do damage to your health and your relationships:
1) Think before you speak – It’s easy to say something that you might regret in the heat of the moment. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts, and allow others to do the same.
2) Take a timeout – Give yourself short breaks throughout a stressful day, such as collecting yourself in a quiet room when needed. Some moments of quiet time can help you feel better prepared to handle what’s to come.
3) Once you are calm, express your anger – When you are thinking clearly, express yourself in an assertive but non-confrontational way. While trying not to hurt or control others, state your concerns and needs succinctly and directly.
4) Get some exercise – Physical activity is an excellent release and helps reduce your stress productively. If you feel anger coursing through you, try going for a brisk walk, run or some other enjoyable form of exercise.
5) Clarify possible solutions – Instead of focusing on what made you angry, work instead on resolving the issue at hand. Use your energy to find possible solutions as to how to find effective win-win strategies.
6) Use “I” statements – To avoid criticizing or blaming others (which will only make things worse), use “I” statements to describe the problem (versus “you” statements). Be respectful and specific.
7) Don’t hold a grudge – Holding a grudge is self-sabotaging, while forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you may find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. But you can forgive someone who angered you and learn from the situation. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to behave exactly as you want at all times.
8) Use humor to diffuse the anger – Adding an element of humor can release and diffuse tension. Use humor to help you confront what’s bothering you, and to help release any unrealistic expectations you have for “how things should go”. Avoid sarcasm though – it can hurt feelings thus making things worse.
9) Practice relaxation skills, such as meditation – When your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work. Practice meditation, deep-breathing exercises, or repeating a calming word or phrase, such as “Slow down.” You can also listen to music, write in a journal or do some yoga – whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.
10) Know when to seek outside help – Learning to handle anger can be a challenge for everyone at times. Consider seeking help for emotional issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or hurts those around you.
While you may not be able to control that you’re on this journey, you can control how you navigate it. With mindful awareness, you get to respond to the stress rather than react to it. If you want to maintain an open space for hope, embrace the unwanted symptom of anger and learn from it. But for now, take just one generous breath and use the exhale to let go of today’s anger.
Please join me next week to hear more about my personal journey down the infertility path. I look forward to speaking with you. And I wish you the best on your journey.