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The benefits of “faking calm” when you feel angry

March 21, 2018

March Featured Therapist Ellen Mishel, MSS, LSW, MFT specializes in helping parents improve their parenting skills and relationships with their children. Her tips for channeling angry energy into productive communication are great for couple or co-worker relationships, too. 

We all get angry. Anger is a natural feeling. It is not good or bad. However, how we express our anger matters a lot, especially to the person you are interacting with when the angry feelings arise. Your anger may affect that person more than you can imagine, so it is important that we express our anger in a controlled and productive way.

But, we cannot always be calm. No one can ever be calm all of the time. If you cannot remain calm, there are times that it is helpful to “fake calm!”

The benefits of being calm are that it allows us to maintain control of our reactions, emotions, and behaviors. It also has the benefit of allowing other people to stay focused on the issues rather than your anger. Once we get upset, it is much more difficult to go back to being calm. If you have children, being calm will help your children stay calmer as well.

Here are my tips for ‘faking calm’ when you feel anger coming on:

  • Breathe slowly and deliberately. Long exhales, like a sigh, can be helpful. Count to 10 slowly.
  • Repeat a mantra to yourself such as, “I can handle this” or, perhaps, when angered by your daughter, “this is just a developmental stage, she will get past this.”
  • Speak slowly and clearly, and try to maintain a normal speaking volume.
  • Maintain eye contact with the other person, but not it in a glaring, threatening, or intimidating way.
  • Sometimes it helps to take a ‘time out.’ You can say to your partner or child, “I need a few minutes to calm down. We can talk in 15 minutes when I am calmer.”
  • When expressing your anger or frustration, try to stay in the present moment. Avoid statements with “always” or “never” and instead focus your communication on the situation at hand.