How to find your lost temper. The art of anger management. Ten suggestions.

January 24, 2016 Gustav Gous

How to find your lost temper. The art of anger management. Ten suggestions.


  1. Finding your lost temper fast.


It’s actually humorous how fast you can find a lost temper. Some say it is not possible.  They say: I cannot help myself,  it is my temperament, I am highly strung, it’s my culture (I’m Irish, Italian, Zulu or whatever) and by the way, it is your fault that I get angry.  It is you who cause me to lose my temper.

 I say: Nonsense! You are looking for excuses that don’t hold up.  You can find your lost temper faster than you can lose it. But only if you want to.  Let’s look at a few examples:

-          You are in a heated argument, lose your temper and you are SHOUTING. Your smartphone rings, and you see it is the person who wants to award you a million dollar contract.  You immediately ‘lose’ your lost temper and find your cool again and answer in a friendly professional voice: “Hello, …”

-          A married couple is in a heated argument, and both of them lost their tempers and are shouting.  They didn’t see that the pastor or priest that they respect very much, had just walked in. When they see him they both immediately change their tone: “Hello Pastor …”

-          You shout at one of your workers, and the woman/man who you just started dating and who you seriously want to impress, just walked in to pay a surprise visit, and, guess what: You miraculously find your lost temper again! Because you want to.

So don’t tell me that you are not in control. Your temper tantrum behaviour is just a sad excuse for a bad habit or mechanism that you have learned, repeated, perfected and got away with (thus far). You do it to intimidate people, to get your way or force your will with an emotional ‘blitzkrieg’ on others.  You think: Losing your temper is a sign of strength. Others know it is rather a sign of weakness.


  1. Yellow and Red Cards:  It is a pity that there are no referees and yellow/red cards in work and love relationships. It would have kept so many people out of trouble and would keep relationships on track.


  1. He who angers you conquers you. Lose your temper – lose your game  Vs  Master your anger - master your game.


-          * # In the Game of Sport: Sports people (Soccer and Rugby players in particular) know:  If you lose your temper – you lose your game.   Think Soccer world Cup Final, 2006: Ask French captain Zinedine Zidane, who head-butted Italian player Materazzi in a moment or anger in the final. Materazzi knew, that if he can anger Zidane by insulting his mother and sister, then he can destabilize him. And Zidane fell for it, got a red card and his absence caused his team to lose the World Cup.  

 One moment of madness, then a lifetime of sadness, losing him sponsorships and compromising a successful career. Zinedine Zidane knows now (but it is too late):  He who angers you conquers you. With the Rugby World Cup being played now, all the coaches remind their players that ill-discipline in the department of anger management, can cost them the Cup.  


-          *# In the Game of Life:  But we all are playing in our own game - the final of the Game of Life.  The same rings true in the game of life: If you lose your temper, you can lose your game – be it the game of relationships, business, or even politics.  Anger must therefore be managed.


  1. The art of anger management


Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy. These are the wise words of the philosopher Aristotle.  


4.1 To achieve this we must first understand the following about anger.


(i)                  Anger is normal, and has a rightful place:   Anger can be necessary and important. If your own or someone else’s rights have been infringed, you may rightly feel anger, and the need to correct the situation. Good-tempered people can do it in a good way.  Even the Bible gives you the right to be angry, but reminds you not to sin in the process. “BE ANGRY, and yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger” - Ephesians 4:26


(ii)                Anger is an emotion - that must be managed:  All feelings, including anger are like wild horses.  If you cannot hold your horses, they will throw you off, and hurt others. You need to master your emotion and do not let it master your reason. Good temper should govern anger, not the other way round.

(iii)               Anger is a suitcase emotion - it is often a cover-up for other feelings.  Anger is a container for other emotions. Are you truly angry? Or is your anger masking other feelings such as embarrassment, insecurity, hurt, shame, or vulnerability? So be aware what is beneath.   

(iv)              Anger is not unethical, but what you DO with anger can be right or wrong. It is the actions that follows the feeling of anger that can be right or wrong, and can be ethically judged.  Let’s have a look at the following actions and how they are judged by wise philosophers, famous people and the Bible:     

  •   Revenge – try to get even:  Douglas Horton said: ‘While seeking revenge, dig two graves - one for yourself.’  Dick Armey said:  ‘You cannot get ahead while you are getting even.’  Romans 12:19-21 says:  ‘Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay," says the Lord. … Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.’
  •   Cursing and abusive words:   An ill tongue loves an angry heart, because then it can lash out and cut others in pieces. The Bible has the following to say: “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.” - Colossians 3:8.
  •   Losing your temper:    “He who is slow to anger has great understanding.  But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.” - Proverbs 14:29. “Ferocious anger belongs to beasts”. – Ovid.
  •   Outbursts:  “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute” -  Proverbs 15:18
  •   Shoot a person in rage or road rage: It is common sense: Guess who is going to sit in jail? The person who you were angry with, may be dead – but you lost your freedom mate. You will be the one in jail.
  •   Hit or head but a person on the sports field: More common sense: You will be the one with the yellow or red card in the sin bin.
  •   Harbouring hatred:  Albert Einstein  said: Anger dwells only in the bosom of fools. According to Mark Twain, anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.  Attributed to Buddha: ‘Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.’     
  •   Stir it up or Indulge  anger:  ‘Indulge not thyself in the passion of anger; it is whetting a sword to wound thine own breast, or murder thy friend.’  –Akhenaton . ‘Every day we have plenty of opportunities to get angry, stressed or offended. But what you're doing when you indulge these negative emotions is giving something outside yourself power over your happiness. You can choose to not let little things upset you.’  -Joel Osteen.  Psalm 37:8-9: Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
  •  Throw a temper tantrum: Bruce Lee said: ‘A quick temper makes a fool of you soon enough’.
  •  Quarrel:  Bob Marley:  ‘If you get down and quarrel every day, you're saying prayers to the devil, I say.’
If the above actions are destructive, what then must I do with anger? 

4.2 What must I do with anger?  There are three things:   You can ..


(a) Express it  - constructively  - not destructively.  If frustration or anger build up for too long, you will explode .  According to Wayne Dyer there's nothing wrong with anger provided you use it constructively.  Expressing it is not an excuse to let it rip, nor a licence to hurt. It is not slinging insults, under the disguise that I am honest. It is not hitting a holes in the door.  It is being cool, calm and collected.  


 (b) Suppress it   - strategically – not permanently.   If you permanently suppress anger, you just create a bigger explosion later.  Suppressed anger will pop out in the form of sarcasm, and ridicule. One can suppress anger momentarily to buy time to think.


(c)  Employ, deploy and direct it. The energy of anger must be redirected to a constructive purpose. Address the issue at hand, employ the passion and direct your anger on winning the game, not focusing on the person.  Be angry with the sins, not the sinners.  Norman Schwarzkopf said:  “I get angry at a principle, not a person.” 



  1. Here are 10 tips on anger management


Pre-work for anger management:


  1.      1. Cultivate a strong sense of self-worth. It is the foundation of anger management. With a strong self-worth you will not be over-sensitive.  A giant is not easily offended.  If a small thing has the power to make you angry, does that not indicate something about your size and stature?


Core skills for anger management:


  1.      2. Recognize anger as normal feeling and recognize it as energy that can be channelled.


  1.      3. Break the anger cycle. To break the short circuit from feeling to action, you can do the following

3.1   Master simple relaxation tools, such as deep breathing and relaxing imagery and stretching exercises.   Breathe slowly :  Inhale for 3 seconds, hold your breath for 3 seconds, Exhale for 3 seconds. Repeat. It  can help calm down angry feelings.  

3.2   Take time out.  The best remedy for a short temper is a long walk. Count to 10, better still to 100 before you do anything.   Interrupt the anger cycle:  Do not entertain it, feed it, indulge in it, grow it, blow it up, or  throw petrol on the fire. Put yourself voluntarily in the cooler box (off the field in Rugby) . 

3.3   Use the time to deflect.   Deflect the rock-fall of emotion before it gains momentum, and think differently. use the time to hold your horse: Power is nothing without control. 

3.4   Use the time to reflect (think differently) Ask yourself what really lies underneath your anger, and pinpoint your real feelings.  Spend time on empathy to understand where the other person is coming from. Think differently before you speak and act. Discuss the issue with people you respect. 


  1.      4. Verbalize your anger. Always write angry letters to your enemies.  – just don’t mail them, and emails – just don’t push the send button. Keep them in draft mode.  It is the best way to take control of your emotions.


  1.      5. Use humour to break the tension.


  1.      6. Choose your battles. Only go into battle for what is really important.


  1.      7. Be assertive, and have a problem-solve mindset.


  1.      8. Know when to let go.


Applied Skills


  1.     9.  Plan difficult conversations.Plan your words and angle before difficult conversations.


Preventative Skills


  1.  10. Be aware of what triggers you and get strategies to keep these triggers from tipping you over the edge in future.


Use it (this list), or lose it (your temper and relationship/work). Remember: He who angers you conquers you.   You will not be punished FOR your anger,  you will be punished BY your anger. So the choice is: Lose your temper - lose your game! But the opposite is also true:  Master your anger – master your game! Cool heads - cool life!