How to Stop Aggressive Impulses

Cultivate a sense of calm rather than spreading anger by aggressive communication.
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Angry outbursts can be off-putting to your friends and family. However, impulsive fits of anger can do more than damage your personal relationships. In the article "Anger Management: Tips and Techniques for Getting Anger Under Control," authors Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Melinda Smith, M.A., suggest a short fuse makes you more likely to face health hazards such as diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and a diminished immune system. With these social, physical and mental consequences in mind, you’ll want to find several strategies to tame your temper.

Take a moment to assess the things that tend to trigger your rage. Write these triggers down, whether they are people, situations or even specific feelings. While you might not be able to constantly avoid these triggers, you should at least be aware of when you’re at the highest risk for an outburst.

Take deep breaths as soon as you feel angry, pulling air from deep within your diaphragm rather than your chest. On each exhale, draw out the word “easy.” Do this 10 times, or until you feel your anger subsiding.

Communicate your feelings. Whether you’re arguing with a person or alone and feeling mad about a situation, explain your emotions and reasoning aloud. When talking to a person, do so as calmly as possible.

Recognize any irrational reasoning or feelings as you explain yourself aloud. In some cases, you might find you have every right to be mad; in many cases, however, you will notice evidence of an overreaction.

Make a joke or admit your own silliness. If you’re in an argument with someone, this is one way to gracefully bow away from an overreaction. This can also help you restore a healthy perspective or diffuse tension in the room.

Focus on the problem. Whether your anger struck in the middle of an argument with your friend or during a fender bender, there is still an issue for you to address after you’ve regained your sense of calm. With a clearer mind, you can proceed to problem solving.

  • Some people advise releasing your rage, rather than bottling it up inside. According to the American Psychological Association, in its entry "Controlling Anger -- Before It Controls You," letting this anger out could actually further the problem, even giving people a reason to believe violence and aggression are healthy releases.
  • If your anger frequently leads to physical violence, or if you believe the stress of your hot temper is having a severe impact on your lifestyle, you should talk to a therapist about anger management programs. A program lead by a certified expert in anger management might prove more effective than self-treatment.

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.