Take a break. Suppress or disrupt your aggressive responses, find
a distraction, distance yourself from the situation. This is timeout like
you would use with a misbehaving child. You are getting away from the
argument. Another good idea is the old adages of "count to 10" or "engage
brain before starting mouth." Do whatever you can to stop your impulsive and
unwise comments and aggression, like hitting or yelling. Even a brief delay
may permit you to think of a more constructive response. Actually the longer
the delay the better, try to relax and perhaps sleep on it. Talk to a friend and
do other things. Research with children has confirmed Seneca's opinion that
thinking about other things helps reduce our frustration and ire. Do
something you enjoy, something that occupies your mind. Listen to music,
take a bath, meditate, or see a good comedy. Or use a little comedy, but it is
hard to control the sarcasm.
You know you need to take a break, when you start to yell, your heart is
pounding, your muscles are tense, and you are so occupied by your anger
that you cant think clearly
Rules for taking a timeout: (1) only try to control your behavior, dont try to
tell the other person to cool it for a while. (2) Tell the other party that you
need a break and indicate when you will be back to continue. Dont give the
impression that you are blowing them off. Indicate when you would like to
continue the discussion. (3) Set aside enough time to resolve the conflict. (4)
During the break, be careful about whom you talk to about the conflict
situationthe third party may re-arouse your anger or may develop a hatred
of the other person which becomes a problem later.
Lady debater: Mr. Churchill, if I were your wife, I'd put arsenic in your
Winston Churchill: Lady, if you were my wife, I'd drink it.
Abraham Lincoln to a large lady visitor who accidentally sat on and
crushed his favorite top hat: If you'd just asked me lady, I could have
told you it wouldn't fit.
Tavris (1984) says the best thing, sometimes, to do about anger is
nothing, including thinking nothing about the incident. The irritating event is
frequently unimportant; its memory may soon fade away; if you stay quiet,
the relationship stays civil and respectful.
When it comes to anger, you are sometimes damned if you do express it
and damned if you don't. Swallowing anger may be unwise. Some theorists
say that self-instructions to suppress anger for a long period of time may be
risky, because it lowers our self-esteem, increases our sense of