"Are you sure he/she/it is worth getting mad over?"
This question is really important, especially now, in this climate of extremes and senseless bickering. Oftentimes this is a sincere push to quiet your troubled mind or stop you from wasting your time being mad about something you cannot change. But I am not here to tell you to not get angry or be affected or refrain from an argument. I am going to go through some tips on how to effectively "rent space in your head" so that anger gets channeled properly instead of flung out into the ether like a careless electrical storm.
Anger is Okay. In fact, it is vital
Anger is a response to fear. There are two things that push us through our fear and that is love and anger. If you can walk through your fears without one of those two things, you were never afraid to begin with. Love brings us out of our comfort zone. Anger gives us the temporary ability to blaze through something without thinking too much. So, it's no wonder when something bad happens, an insult gets hurled, an imbalance of power unfolds at work, or you feel threatened, anger is the result. It gives you the balls to fight back. Unfortunately, when you are led by the balls, there is a dip in blood supply to the brain. Unless you are in a fight or flight situation, it's always best to involve the brain first.
Know why you are angry
As silly as this sounds, sometimes the surface reaction is not the reason you are actually angry about something. Once I was angry that a teammate provoked me and insulted me on a Facebook thread. But I wasn't angry about the insults. I was angry about his tenacious rage for two days over a truly silly internet squabble and his sense of entitlement to drag the whole team into his senseless flame-throwing. I was angry that one of my teammates sent him screenshots from my personal page to egg him on. That in turn made me uneasy about of the possibility of him flipping out on me in real life. I don't know this guy and he was acting very shrill and unstable. I had to realize this important bit before I measured my reaction.
How Much Head Space Does this Situation Warrant?
If you stop for a second and think past a blind retort, and truly understand why you are angry, you can begin to put your anger into perspective. Is this just some one-note fool on the internet who cannot be reasoned with? Or is this someone you are in contact with often? Is this an issue that keeps coming up or a one-off slight? Some things carry more weight than others. Not every situation is worthy of your response and in those cases, ice is far more devastating than fire. But to the situations that do warrant attention, it's best to figure out your goal, instead of what measure of brutality to employ.
What Do You Want to Accomplish With Your Response?
Again, you may think this is apparent, like "get that fucker back" or "cause equal pain." But if you stop and think about why you are really angry, you can think of an actual solution. This is really the most important step and the reason you should let anger "rent space" in your head. Too many people keep quiet or don't want to rock the boat. If you pop off half-cocked, that's exactly what happens: drama. No one likes it. But, if you can think of what you want to get out of it, say information, or an acknowledgement, an end to being picked on, what have you, a response is in order. That response can get you what you want and change the situation, possibly, even, squash the beef.
Space should be kept for a thoughtful assessment and deconstruction of your anger, Not a mindless, emotional escalation.
The best thing to remember when you are fuming about something is to ask yourself, "am I building this anger up in my head or am I taking it apart?" If you get lost in being mad, you can end up getting even more mad about fake scenarios and what ifs as your mid spins toward all the worst places it can go, in an attempt to protect you from every possible bad outcome. On the flipside, if you take this rage and start boiling it down to it's real and essential parts, (i.e. why am I really mad, where is the other person coming from, how much weight does this truly need to carry, what is my goal) you actually become more in control and more protected in real life. You learn what makes you tick and why, you learn about your opponent, and most importantly, you stay calmer and more rational to respond, without babies being thrown out with the bathwater and scorched earth, everywhere.