Person-to-person: How to get your temper under control for Yom Kippur

“When people learn to calmly ask for what they need, they don’t feel like yelling so much. It takes constant practice to learn how to ask people to help you or give you something."

Sunset in Tel Aviv (photo credit: Courtesy)
Sunset in Tel Aviv
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Do you have a fiery streak of anger in you? Have you yelled out, behaved badly, or flat-out made a fool of yourself on many occasions?
If so, it’s time you moved from this emotional state. Why? It will not only make you feel out of control, but it will also cause you to lose control of many aspects of your life.
People will have trouble trusting you with sensitive information if you have a temper. Coworkers may not open up about important problems, fearing you’ll blame them. Family members will avoid sharing time with you as well.
In short, going into a tirade will short circuit your success in relationships and career opportunities.
Going into attack mode will work if someone is trying to hurt you physically. And most of us would throw a wild fit if someone attacked one of our loved ones.
But unless danger is coming down, it pays to stay calm in most situations.
These tips can help:
• Decide in advance you will keep your cool. Decide this every day. It’s easier to avoid screaming at someone, if you’ve already made up your mind to behave.
• Realize you can react later. Just because you’re not showing anger in a given moment doesn’t mean you can’t confront someone after you’ve thought things through.
• Count on anger flubbing your ability to think rationally. This can be embarrassing. For instance, a woman we know says she once screamed at the wrong bank teller. She had been shorted $100, but she went back to the wrong line to complain after going to her car.
• See yourself as a strong, calm person. This takes practice over time. Your “I’ll show them” attitude of biting back did not come on overnight.
“I really believe people are more respectful of, and even afraid of, a calm person,” says a lawyer friend of ours. “People who can look someone in the eye and not act crazy can hold up well in court. That’s why I tell people if they can stay calm in bad situations, they can gain respect from those who are doing them harm. Picture a car accident. If you someone hits you, and you don’t overreact, they’ll know your version of the incident will carry weight with authority figures.”
Having a temper and feeling legitimate anger are two separate issues. Most of us can get very angry several times a day. How we deal with that anger will empower us or make us feel weak.
“I’ve learned to speak my emotions, versus acting them out,” says a nurse we’ll call Donna. “There are patients who try your nerves to the max. You just want to scream.”
Donna says she’ll say to someone, “Let’s figure out what to do here, but stop yelling. I promise you I want to help, but you’ve got to stay calm and trust me.”
Donna says she’s learned that yelling and screaming are really fear factors. “People are worried about something, so they want everyone within 100 miles to know it,” she explains. “They are worried they won’t get what they want or need.”
A psychologist we’ll call Alex sums it up this way: “When people learn to calmly ask for what they need, they don’t feel like yelling so much. It takes constant practice to learn how to ask people to help you or give you something. But, it’s amazing how mastering this can improve the quality of your life.” (TNS)
Judi Light Hopson is an author and executive director of USA Wellness Cafe: Emma Hopson is a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.