By Jackie James

Anger. It’s an emotion that each one of us experiences, but can manifest itself in different ways. Sometimes, you may just feel annoyed, like when your parents ask you to put away the dishes for the hundredth time, or when your little brother breaks in on your phone conversation. However, there’s the other end of the spectrum: the unrelenting, volcano-like build-up of rage that seems to overwhelm you, and oftentimes leads you to either or say or do something you would otherwise regret.

Anger can be healthy. You may be justified in feeling outrage or resentment; it’s how you handle that anger that is the key. Yelling and screaming, breaking things, physically hurting others or yourself—these actions are taking your anger too far because they can be potentially harmful. If this is your normal reaction to something that upsets you, you may want to determine if underlying emotions are causing you to lash out. Maybe you are experiencing a life change that you’re unsure how to approach, or you feel like you don’t have any control over your situation, and it makes you uncontrollably mad; these are normal feelings. But recognize that if you say something or do something you might regret, the consequences can be severe, so consider a few tips on tantrum control:

  1. It may seem silly, but count to ten before you react, either in words or in action. During these ten seconds, focus on your calm response, stating your anger in a clear and rational manner. If the other person is rational as well, this approach can lead to helpful dialogue that can possibly lead to a solution, rather than hurtful remarks or physical attacks that can only lead to dire consequences.
  2. Don’t take your anger to social media. You may be looking for others to validate your feelings but what you’re really doing is writing something in a public forum that can be used against you later! Social media never goes away; look at all the celebrities who have been haunted by tweets or posts they made years ago, only to have to face up to them later in life. Threatening people on social media or perpetuating gossip because you are angry; it just makes you look like a bully and unstable. If you feel you must get your anger out in writing, use a private journal to write down your thoughts and feelings, that way when the feelings subside, more damage isn’t done.
  3. You may be angry with yourself, for something you did or didn’t do; do not let it eat you alive. Everyone has regrets, but beating yourself up over a misstep in life—even a big one—won’t stop it from happening again. Learn from the mistake and let the fury at yourself go; it isn’t worth it! Avoid mental putdowns, and most importantly, don’t physically hurt yourself. Cutting and other types of self-harm do not remove the rage; they only enhance the feelings of guilt and resentment that you already feel. If you feel you may harm yourself or someone else, speak to someone you trust to help you through the feelings.

If you feel pent up rage is getting the better of you, ask for help. Seek a trusted adult, an anger management support group, or even find something else to occupy your mind, like exercise, listening to music or a hobby. Everyone experiences these feelings—just don’t let them win!