Manage the Madness


Do you find yourself getting pissed off too often lately? The weather, a needy friend, an aggravating kid, an insult, a messy house, politics—there are a lot of reasons to be in a bad mood. The good news? Getting angry is not always a bad thing.

When you make anger work for you (what experts call constructive anger) it can motivate you to deal with problems and reach goals. Anger is an integral part of our biological fight-or-flight response, which was necessary for survival in the past and has value now, too. When you’re mad, your brain experiences something close to stress—and stress can push us toward righting wrongs and seeking solutions.

Identify the triggers (people or situations) that tend to make you irritated. Think about a specific incident in the past in which your anger got the best of you. What was going through your mind at the time? How did you feel? How would have you preferred to respond?

The next time you find yourself boiling over, remember that you’re probably feeling that way for a reason. And recalling the reason can bring a moment of clarity that leads to a more reasonable, better outcome. The goal is to make good decisions, not rash ones.

Technique of the week: When you are feeling calm and peaceful, recall your anger triggers. Make a mental list of things that make you furious. Then the next time something or someone sets you off, take a breath. Give yourself permission to pause (even if someone is waiting for your response). Slowing down an emotionally-charged situation takes you out of autopilot and puts YOU in the driver’s seat!


Melissa Garson