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"Once we develop more awareness of our thoughts, we are better able to realise when we are feeling angry and not let it run our life. Respond don’t react."

We get it – feeling angry and having angry thoughts is entirely natural, but what we do about it is a choice we make. Rather than feed the anger and make it even worse, there are strategies to help manage it, so it doesn’t, for example, ruin the next 48 hours of our marriage, cause tension in our workplace or jeopardise our friendships.

1. Recognise the underpinning emotion(s)

Getting angry is often a learned response to a number of emotions that we are trying to avoid. We often get angry when we are anxious, sad, depressed, and frustrated, and we men often rely on anger as our default emotion.

So, when we start feeling anger rising, we can try and recognise the emotion underpinning it; what we are really feeling, and address that instead. This would mean telling our partner that we’re worried or that we’ve had a hard day at work rather than yelling or snapping.

2. Think about your values

This rethink is to help us with the technique above.

What are your values? How do you want to be seen by the people that matter in your life? Is it OK to be angry, shut others down or snap at them, making them feel miserable? Do you see anger in others as unpleasant, unpredictable, and controlling?

Thinking about our values helps us roll out actions that align with what kind of person we want to be. Do we want to be a good, kind person, or someone to be feared? What do we want to be known for by the people that matter most in our life, those that we love?

3. Alternatives to Anger

Anger never works to change anything. Yes, it might give us control in the short term, but nothing changes in the long term (other than creating more problems for ourselves).

What other things, besides getting angry, can we do to change our situation? How could we make things different and to our advantage in a healthy and adaptive way?

If you’re the coach of a football team and you are losing by 30 points at half time, you’d probably change your game plan. Life is like that too. When anger does nothing but create problems in our lives, we need to switch things up and try something else.

4. Respond Don’t React

It can be useful to use ‘mental noting’ to acknowledge anger (or any other emotions that are arising). Even just to know “this is anger” when it is coming up is a big step. It’s not about getting rid of anger entirely; it’s about investigating it with interest.

  • For example, bring awareness to sensations such as tension in the chest, or slight clenching of the fists, or heat in the face, or the types of thoughts in your head that might be fuelling the anger.

Work at developing an understanding of what the mind is doing at any given moment in time – the capacity to pause and think about our own thinking; “what are the thoughts that are bouncing around in my head right now” as opposed to running with the story, getting caught up in the thoughts about what was said or done to you.

Once we develop more awareness of our thoughts, we are better able to realise they don’t have to run our lives. We can see that most of our thoughts are often short-lived and relatively insubstantial. Thoughts come and go, repeatedly. You’ve probably become distracted by your thoughts many times already while reading this short article – “what do I need to do today?”, “what am I going to do for dinner?”, “what time do I need to wake the kids up?”.

Knowing that our minds are thought machines and that we have power over which thoughts we choose to entertain can help us to be a little more selective about which thoughts are helpful and worth acting on, and which thoughts are not helpful and that we should let go of.

You can’t stop the thoughts that bounce around in your head, but you can choose which ones you respond to. Respond don’t react.

5. Identify and Replace

We each can identify the hot, anger driven, reactive thoughts in our mind. Once we’ve identified these thoughts, we can also choose to replace them with more level-headed, reflective thoughts.

  • Reactive: “How dare he!”
  • Reflective: “He thinks he’s trying to help me.”
  • Reactive: “How stupid can she be?”
  • Reflective: “She’s human.”

Inside each of us, there lives two wolves: one is white representing thoughtfulness and kindness, one is black representing anger and meanness. They begin to fight. Which one will win? The one you feed!

Next Steps:

Managing Anger and Irritability

Our Managing Anger and Irritability course, which includes interactive exercises, will equip you with the tools and strategies to effectively manage your anger in healthier and more constructive ways.

Rewiring Negative Thoughts

Our Rewiring Negative Thoughts course includes interactive exercises and examples that make it easier for us to apply these techniques in our everyday life.


Guest Authors:

Mantle provides specialist, confidential virtual Mental Health services for Men. We know that a lot of Men are notoriously time poor and how busy work and family lives can be. We also know that the stigma surrounding Mental Health creates a barrier to Men seeking out and engaging with support. Whether it is lifestyle, relationship, or emotional challenges that are impacting your performance, or more therapeutic services as part of a broader mental health plan are needed, we have a range of options to suit and support you.

The Mantle team are qualified, award winning, registered Psychologists. We specialise in working directly with Men, and draw on the latest evidence-based, academic research and techniques.

mantlehealth.com.au

THIS IS MEN'S HEALTH WEEK | JUNE 10-16TH, 2024

Men's Health Week takes place annually in mid-June, during the week preceding Father’s Day. The week is not just a campaign, but a call to action for men to take better care of their health and for communities to support men in this endeavour.

Men's Health Week 2024