It's up to us to set the stage for what is acceptable and how we want to discuss our differences. As a parent, I am deeply influenced by how my actions impact my son. When I think of the world I want him to grow into, it's not the climate we're living in today. What I have realized, is that it's not okay for me to simply be angry anymore. Certainly, I have reasons just like everyone else. But the consequences of my actions are too great to simply act without thinking. We owe it to the next generation to think BEFORE we act.
Tips to Manage Your Anger:
1. Practice the art of pausing before you speak. When you find yourself about to unleash on someone, take a moment to collect yourself. In order to do this you have to recognize where anger lives in your body. Do you become short of breath, physically hot, does your jaw clench or your heart begin to race? Take time to get to know your physical signs so you can monitor them and know when it's time to pause before you act.
2. Truly listen to the other person's point of view. Do you know what they're feeling and does it make any kind of logical sense to you? I'm not suggesting you need to agree with their point of view; the question is did you honestly hear them? If the answer is no, before reacting, simply say to the other person, "before we go on, can you tell me why you believe this to be true?" This action does two things: It shows respect to the person, which goes a long way in keeping an argument from exploding, and it gives you a few minutes to calm down.
3. Try the old "count to 10" trick. You'd be surprised how well it works. Close your eyes, take deep breaths and use your breath to keep count.
4. Take a time out. The key to time outs is to return when you're calmed down. If your anger is reaching a pinnacle while you're in a crowd, take the initiative to step away and continue your conversation with fewer people. Sometimes the mob mentality can fuel the fire and make the situation worse.
5. Communicate the truth about how you're feeling. Simply state from your perspective how you're feeling and that you're having a hard time not reacting with anger. Lowering your voice can help too. When people are in the heat of the moment their voices tend to rise as their passion does. Mentioning that you're working on not being overly angry may elicit some support from whomever you're talking to. Classically, using the word "I" works well to keep your feelings about you and not about the other person.
I can't say this is easy, but practice certainly helps. As the fall elections continue and we move into the next year, the importance of finding constructive ways to express our feelings will continue to rise.
I'd love to hear how it's going for you. After all, we're all in this together: red, blue, tea-colored or checked out. Maybe what we all really need is to start each morning watching the "Double Rainbow" video and keep the TV and the radio off.
Originally published on The Huffington Post.