Sun | May 24, 2020

Trevor E.S. Smith | Don’t lose your head, use it!

Published:Sunday | September 29, 2019 | 12:00 AM

A recent news item indicated that two brothers lost their heads – one figuratively and the other literally at the hands of his machete-wielding brother.

As I waited to share insights at a school devotion, an angry student recited the level of violence that he would inflict on whoever was found to have stolen his football boots.

Learning to manage anger is a top priority if the intolerable level of violence that plagues our society is to be curbed. Policing cannot be the sole solution. Neither is the provision of greater economic opportunities.

Conflicts are inevitable. However, we need to help people to get to the place where they do not lose their heads in a fit of anger when provoked, or when they perceive that they have been wronged.

Here are simple steps that we can use to control anger. Please apply them to your life and share with others.


One quick step towards getting back to a calm, rational state is to monitor your breathing.

A neat way to do that is to go through an inhale-hold-exhale routine. The numbers you use can vary, but it is important that you count. For example, inhale for the count of four. Hold your breath for the count of eight, and exhale to the count of four. Repeat until you sense the restoration of a sense of calm and that you are in control of your emotions.


If you are a believer, praying at the onset of anger is a powerful mechanism for ensuring that you do not say or do things that you will regret.

Seek divine guidance and release from any temptation that might have taken hold of you in your fit of anger.


This can take many forms. A brisk walk away. Going to wash your face and hands. Given time, you could do some exercises. A bit of gardening helps. Play an instrument if you can. Go for a drive.

The key is to change whatever physical state that you are in.


Stewing (ruminating) about the perceived provocation is a no-no. It usually leads to increasing the magnitude of the hurt and fuels more anger. Left on its own merry way, this could lead to a situation in which revenge and a violent response appear to be appropriate actions.


Be careful who you turn to when angry. You want to get assistance to restore a sense of calm, not someone to stoke the fires!

Some people are notorious for making the situation worse. They magnify the hurt they suggest you should be feeling and find reasons for you to be angry that you did not see. Then, given the escalated level of indignation, clearly you will be prompted to fight fire with fire.

Avoid those ‘friends’ like the plague.


Once some level of calm starts returning, take a hold of your thoughts. Work to strip away the emotions for a while.

WHAT are the concrete, bare facts? This is not what you think and what seems reasonable to conclude. What is it that is supported by evidence?

Next, give thought to WHY this is happening. Understanding why this is happening can assist you in coping with the situation and has the benefit of helping to find answers to the problem.

Reflecting on WHO is at the source of your anger is also helpful. Ask yourself a critical question: If the source was someone else, how would I respond? Sometimes the closer the person is to you, the deeper the hurt. On the other hand, there are things that people close to you can get away with that would spark an immediate angry response in respect of others.

As you work to get this issue sorted out in your mind, considering the issue of WHEN is a good idea. If this is a one-off occurrence, then it is easier to let it pass. If it is a recurring event, then you need to work towards a peaceful, long-term solution.


Sort things out internally before dealing with external factors. First, be at peace, then seek peace.


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- Trevor E.S. Smith/Success with People Academy. We help develop high-performance teams. We are interpersonal relations, group dynamics and performance enhancement specialists. We provide learning and productivity-enhancement technology solutions. We offer behavioural assessments from extended DISC on the revolutionary FinxS platform.Email: