Keep it simple. Your mother, her mother and all the mothers before them were quite correct when they said “When you are angry-count to ten.” Given all what we know about anger, this simple act of counting to ten appears to be the best advice in dealing with one’s anger.

Simply put, when we are angry we need to take a deep breath, slow down in order to collect our thoughts, which in turn will give us a chance to make better choices in tough situations. “Flying off the handle” may make you feel temporarily better, but in the long run it doesn’t solve the problem and probably makes it worse.

Anger, particularly high intensity anger, impairs our thinking. The reason is that anger produces adrenaline in our body (which is a good thing); however, too much adrenaline blocks us from fully comprehending the situation that we are in (which is a bad thing). We then allow our emotions to take over, which only accelerates more anger. This happens in other situations such as when we misplace our wallet or car keys. Often our first reaction is to panic and go on a wild search to no avail.

Typically it is when we calm down and give ourselves time to think that we find the lost/misplaced item. So, it is with anger. When anger is compounded by more anger it produces a situation that makes us helpless, frustrated and at times violent.

To combat this pattern, remember to give yourself time to act when you are angry. (This is where counting to ten comes into play). Sounds simple and even silly, but it works.

Here are some rules when you are feeling angry:

·Take a deep breath
·Calm down and give yourself time to respond
·Think about the situation and look at your options
·Respond in a way that is helpful to you and those around you.

Ray Ali is a Marriage and Family therapist and can be reached at The Family Centre, Winnipeg, Canada, at 947-1401 or by email at


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