“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” If you answered yes to the title question I am sure you have realized the truth in this quote by Ambrose Bierce. In order to gain control over your tongue you must be determined to see things differently. People who lose their temper tend to view life in a negative and judgmental way. You have the ability to direct your mind away from angry and upset feelings. You need to realize that you can have peace of mind instead of conflict.
This article will cover a variety of mindsets and behaviors that will teach you how to keep your mouth shut when you are angry.
1) Be quick to listen and slow to speak. Remember that you have two ears and only one mouth. Use them in this proportion. It’s better to be a good listener than to be a good speaker. Listen carefully to what the other person has to say. Take your time before giving them an answer.
2) Don’t be double minded. You can’t have peace of mind and conflict at the same time. Be clearly focused on the outcome that you want. (Example: “I want to go to bed tonight feeling close to my partner.”).
3) You can’t be right and be married. You have to decide “Do you want to be right or do you want to be married?” Trying to be right will destroy the connection between you. Instead, strive to do the right thing.
4) Don’t jump to conclusions. Slow down and think through the situation.
5) Don’t say the first thing that comes into your head. I often hear people say, “I cannot keep from saying the thoughts I have.” You can and you must.
6) As I was writing this, my daughter reminded me of Thumper’s quote in the movie, “Bambi”. “If you can’t say something nice…don’t say nothing at all.” This is always good advice.
7) Don’t overreact to criticism. Beneath the criticism is an underlying message. Criticism is a smoke screen for deeper feelings. I compare criticism to cheese on a mousetrap. What happens when the mouse takes the cheese? He gets his tail caught in the trap. That’s what happens when you take the bait of criticism. Don’t take the bait. Listen for the underlying message.
8) Stay away from negative thoughts and statements like, “I hate this!” “This is driving me crazy!” “I can’t stand this!” These types of statements are like throwing gasoline on a fire. You are making it much more intense. Replace these with positive declarations such as “I can handle this.” “This is not that big of a deal.” “I have unshakeable peace of mind.” “Nothing bothers me.” Your thoughts will direct your emotions. Choose positive thoughts that help you keep your peace.
9) If someone uses absolute terms like “always”, “never”, “everybody”, and “nobody”; don’t take them literally. These are emotional terms. If your wife says “You never take me anywhere.” and you know that’s not true; don’t take it as a personal attack. Try and hear her underlying request that she needs to know she is special and she wants to spend some time with you.
10) Don’t overreact and don’t give advice too quickly. This only trains people not to be open with you.
11) Don’t try to get in the last word. It’s not worth the damage you could do by trying to win or be heard.
12) If you are angry repeat this scripture based verse in your head, “In all things be self controlled.” Say it over and over so that you don’t get derailed into an argument.
13) There is life and death in the spoken word. Make sure your words build people up versus tearing them down.
14) Remember to breathe. Stick with the basics. When you are upset, take a few deep breaths.
15) Strive to use an approach that promotes honor and respect. This can make the difference between a twenty minute argument and a 3 day war.
16) Realize that your anger most likely is not going to help solve the problem and may actually make the matter worse.
17) Calmness will help you get to the heart of the matter. This leads to conflict resolution. Trying to be right or show your might will lead to conflict.
18) Staying connected is more important than making your point.
The only one who is responsible for the way your life works out is you. You cannot change the past, but you can take responsibility for your future. All it takes is a decision. Decide to live a life of discipline rather than one of regret. Remember that discipline weighs ounces and regret weighs tons. Develop the power of a tamed tongue.
Mark Webb is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice at South Georgia Psychiatric and Counseling Center in Valdosta. He is the author of How To Be A Great Partner. Read more of his articles at http://www.TheRelationshipSpecialist.com
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American Association of Anger Management Providers