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Getting Out of the Way of Anger

angerHe’s angry again—getting right in your face, pointing, making irrational accusations, criticizing you, and blaming everyone else, except for himself.[1] It feels like you are trapped in an endless cycle of acting as someone else’s emotional punching bag.1 It’s tiring, upsetting, and you’re unsure of what to do.1

  1. Take Care of Yourself First. After the verbal attack has ended, take some time to yourself—quiet time—and reflect on how these angry outbursts affect you.1 If you are losing sleep, feeling tense, anxious, and losing your appetite and joy in life, then it is important that these outbursts stop.1 Think to yourself: How much do I like/love this person? If they are a partner, family member, or close friend, you have a high emotional investment in this relationship, making it important to deal with the issue as soon as possible.1 If the relationship is important, but there are no close feelings, such as a coworker or a wacky neighbor, the anger still needs to stop.1 If the relationship is unimportant, trash it—you’re wasting your own valuable time.1
  2. Decide on the Outcome You Want. Step back and look at the bigger picture.1 What would you like the outcome to be?1 A healthier relationship or a promotion at work?1 There is nothing to gain by simply putting up with the situation.1 Therefore, you may need to confront the issue directly. Try to extricate yourself from the relationship as soon as possible.1 This can be difficult as you may be afraid to leave, unsure of the unknown.1 If you need extra support, seek professional help.1
  3. Take Perspective. You need to create a space between you and your verbal abuser so you do not enable them, take it personally, or react defensively.1 It is important to remain calm.1 Physically distance yourself by stepping back a couple paces.1 Next, take some internal space.1 Distract yourself from the situation and tune out the angry words.1
  4. Validate. If you validate the person’s feelings, they are likely to slow down and become less angry.1 You will have to listen and say nothing but a validating statement, such as “I can hear how angry you are about this situation.”1 Needing to repeat a few times is normal before the person cools off. Then ask, “What do you need right now?”1 This forces the person to stop and think, something that is incompatible with anger.1 Listen to the reply and decide if it is feasible or not.1 Remain polite, objective, and calm.1 If you are unsure, say, “I need some time to think about what you said. Let me consider it and I will get back to you soon.”1
  5. Slow Down. If you can gain control of the pace of the interaction, you can master the situation.1 It takes practice, but it can be done.1 An angry person is out of control, giving you the opportunity to take the control if you wish.1 If you do, you can control the situation and any angry situation in the future.1


[1] Henshaw, S. (2013). How to Stop an Anger Attack in its Tracks. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/10/31/how-to-stop-an-anger-attack-in-its-tracks/

One Comment

  • Roseanne

    January 22, 2014, 8:17 am

    Cheers, thank you for putting this together;)

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