Review. Research shows that if a person suffers from mental illness, then that person has a higher probability for outbursts of anger. It is an issue with your amygdala. Remember the brain has 3 large sections. The hindbrain controls bodily functions that we do not think about. The midbrain controls emotions. The forebrain (front) controls logic and clear thinking. Now, how do we get into the logical brain and get those emotions under control?
Method 1: SELF TALK.
When we are emotional, we are also on the fringe of irrational thinking and behavior. We do not think about consequences. We simply want to lash out and tell somebody off or worse, harm them. The only way to get into the logical, sensible part of our brain is to ACTIVATE that portion of the brain. How do I do that? Here it comes. TALK TO YOURSELF. No cussing or threats either. Have a little fun with it by addressing yourself as “stupid me” and “logical me”. Now, don’t turn this into a mental illness. Remember the movie “Split”? Tell “logical me” to speak to “stupid me” and let “stupid me” know that I am overreacting and need to cool down. The very fact that you are talking and distinguishing between your logical self and emotional self is activating your logical thinking. Get it? You already turned on the “sensible you” before you realized you did it! There isn’t a method after this. This IS the method. That’s why this works.
It’s the same as talking someone off the ledge. When you get a person to talk, they begin to THINK. When they THINK, they DELAY ACTION. When we delay action, we begin to RECONSIDER our choices. As soon as you say “logical me” or “sensible me” you have moved into the logical part of the brain. It takes mental energy to do this. It does not take mental energy to go off in a fit of anger. You just need to yell and throw stuff. Now you have to remain there and put “emotional me” back in the cage. Every second that you talk to yourself, you DELAY doing something stupid and give your logical brain an opportunity to take over the situation. Remind yourself that EVERYTIME I blow my stack, something bad happens. Remind “stupid you” that you wind up having to apologize and make yourself look like a fool. Talk yourself out of acting childish and bratty. Remind yourself that while people tolerate me, they are tired of me blowing up at the drop of a feather. Allow “logical you” to calm the other you down. It doesn’t matter how you FEEL. We are working to control BEHAVIOR which has a calming effect on feelings.
Method 2: MATHEMATICS (what?)
What more effective (and boring) way to turn on your logical brain than math? What better way to take the sting out of anger than the circumference of a circle? Who remembers the 3 different types of triangles? Do we feel like screaming or throwing something when we are measuring angles? This method worked for a dear friend of mine who has serious anger issues. Why? Because math requires logic. It requires thought and reason (and maybe a tutor). My favorite anti-anger math switch is “2+5”. Why? Because once again, the very ACT of doing the math turns on the logical and begins to turn off the emotional. Also, the more you do it, the more your brain will recognize what you are doing and become rewired. It will say, “oh, here comes that math trick again-that’s my cue to calm down” and will begin to react even before you finish the problem. (Put the durn calculators down, the answer is 7. I can’t take y’all nowhere!)
Just two methods. They have a fancy name. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. It is the method of containing the emotional by activating the logical. So, find your logic switch, whether math, science, trying to remember birthdays, naming as many different birds as you can, or naming all 50 states and use it when you are angry or hyper emotional. Make it fun. People will ask you “how did you go from being so angry to laughing in 3 seconds?” You will then tell them “because I couldn’t figure out the math problem in my logical brain.”