How to Control Anger If Someone Hurls Insults at Me

Insults don't necessarily have to ruin your day.
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Whether the comment was intentional or not, you're bound to feel insulted by someone's words at some point in your life. Sometimes these insults come from friends and family, and other times from complete strangers. No matter what the case, insults can sting enough to arouse your anger. However, you don't have to let your rage loose, which can potentially strain relationships and push away potential friends. Instead, use a few strategies to restrain yourself and dust that insult off without even flinching.

1 Take Note of Your Emotions

Learn to identify how you feel when anger is rising. For example, perhaps your jaw or neck stiffens, your heart pounds, or you get an uneasy feeling in your stomach. By noticing and labeling these signs, you are more likely to address the situation with a more rational outlook, suggests licensed clinical worker Julie Hanks in the "Psych Central" article "How to Stop Overreacting." You can even take this a step further and learn to identify the types of insults that tend to trigger your anger. For example, maybe jokes about your height or weight are sensitive spots for you.

2 Breathing Exercises

As soon as you notice physical cues of anger surfacing, it's time to handle the problem on a physiological level. Take several deep and slow breaths from your abdomen. Keep this up until you feel the cues subside. This will restrict your fight or flight response, which might cause you to react in anger, Hanks says. If necessary, and if possible, excuse yourself from the interaction in order to perform your breathing exercise, especially if the insult really hit a sensitive spot.

3 Toss Up a Joke

Humor is a powerful way to undermine tension and shake off an insult, suggests psychiatrist Neel Burton in the "Psychology Today" article "How to Deal With Insults and Put-Downs." In addition, if you use self-deprecating humor, not only will you stay relaxed, but you also will come off as humble. This requires you to put your ego aside and show others that you don't take yourself too seriously. For example, if someone takes a verbal jab at your height, tell him, "Yeah, I tried platform shoes, but my fear of heights kicked in."

4 Try Silence

If you can't find humor in the insult, don't pressure yourself to find a witty retort. Sometimes simply ignoring the insult is the best way to handle the situation. Your silence sends the message that the insult isn't worth acknowledging, suggests Burton. When ignoring an insult, pay careful attention to your own body language. If you glare or seem to grow rigid, this reveals your anger to those around you. Instead, aim to keep up your casual appearance, as if the insult went unheard. Visualize those mean-spirited words bouncing harmlessly off you and falling to the wayside.

Mitch Reid has been a writer since 2006. He holds a fine arts degree in creative writing, but has a persistent interest in social psychology. He loves train travel, writing fiction, and leaping out of planes. His written work has appeared on sites such as and GlobalPost, and he has served as an editor for ebook publisher Crescent Moon Press, as well as academic literary journals.