Living

How to control your rage: A new way to stay calm

Occasional bouts of rage may be impossible to avoid altogether, so the dilemma facing most of us is how to cope with our burning desire to tell the woman on the cell phone in the bus seat ahead of us to use her inside voice without losing our minds?

Woman yelling into a megaphone

Masterfile

Here are some factors that may influence whether or not you experience anger on a regular basis: you are gainfully employed, you commute, you speak to telemarketers regularly, you are mortal.

Occasional bouts of rage may be impossible to avoid altogether, so the dilemma facing most of us is how to cope with our burning desire to tell the woman on the cell phone in the bus seat ahead of us to use her inside voice without losing our minds.

According to a new study, by researchers in the U.S. and the Netherlands, mentally distancing oneself from an anger-inducing situation or recollection is an effective technique for lessening rage.  

For the study, psychology researchers gathered 94 undergrads in a lab and deliberately annoyed them to the point of frustration. The participants thought they were being asked to help with a study related to creativity and classical music. Instead, they were being goaded into a white-hot rage by a researcher who kept saying he couldn’t hear their answers to his repeated questions. Sufficiently annoyed, the participants were then asked to reflect on the experience — some from their own perspective and others from an objective stance, as if they were observing the moment from a distance.  

The people who performed the distancing exercise came out on top in terms of mood. Ultimately, they reported feeling less angry overall. Additionally they showed less aggressive behaviours and reported fewer negative thoughts.   

The findings may provide an effective technique for people to “neutralize aggression” in the moment say researchers. By adopting a “self-distanced perspective” people may keep themselves in proper check and possibly avoid a dangerous confrontation.    

What irritates you beyond belief?