From simple annoyance to fiery rage, loss of temper, with its emotional and physiological mayhem, so mess with your life that it’s time to prevent, not just manage the thunder. Lashing out in anger over even the smallest slights or obstacles only makes sense if your goal is to strip yourself of peace and inflame your bitterness and indignation.

Sure some anger may be appropriate when it comes from the right place, is well controlled, is short in duration and results in something healthy. But when temper is driven by selfishness, demanding, insisting thinking, and leads to physically explosive, people harming, outburst, well, then it’s time to get a handle on it.

Sick and tired of something and blow up? Show your anger in devious ways? Show you’re pissed-off with sarcasm? Ready to blow and put on that fake smile instead? Hear your friend badmouthing you and you think it “makes you feel” furious? So your thalamus, amygdala, and frontal lobes go into high gear as a result of telling yourself a story about some outside event that arouses your rage and your brain is hijacked.

You’ve no doubt read about the value of calming your emotional brain by relaxation, deep breathing, regular exercise, healthy diet, wise problem solving, counting to 10, and even over-the-counter and prescriptive medication to calm your wrath. I say, “YES” to them all when properly done. They will no doubt help ratchet you down, dial back your ire, settle your seethe and eliminate erupting.

But why not learn to prevent the boil in the first place? Want to fix broken bones or prevent broken bones? Beyond these, all-too-often, written about common sense approaches to melting temper, what can you do to prevent it from boiling in the first place?

Don’t D.I.E. Instead T.H.I.N.K.

I’ll explain. Temper never starts with anything other than thinking about an external event is a certain way. Nobody, not the angriest person you know, “gets” angry or is “made to feel” angry or “let’s others get to him/her.” No, that’s not the way temper blossoms. It grows solely in the thoughts of mankind.

As Epictetus said, “People are disturbed not by things, but by the views they take of them.” So remember rule #1: Temper is triggered by what you think about events or things that happen, not by those things.

It’s important to know the common triggers about which you have temper inflaming thoughts. These may include places, things, events, situations or people in your life. Of course if your relationships aren’t going well, you are using unhealthy substances to control your feelings, you are struggling with depression or anxiety, your finances aren’t going well or your aren’t getting enough restorative sleep, controlling your thinking won’t come easy.

Let’s say someone jumps in front of you on line while you are waiting for your morning coffee, takes “your” parking space, jumps on “your” spot on the floor in your group ex, picks up the last size 4 jeans that you demanded be “yours,” or your boss tosses some extra work your way on Friday afternoon. You think, “That’s not fair!” “She shouldn’t do that!” “That’s not my job!” “I’ll never get those jeans again!” “This is awful, terrible, horrible!”

You believe you are under threat, have been attacked, have been victimized or somehow have been hurt. You haven’t been. There’s really no “thorn in your side.” Life is not black and white, all or nothing. There are no real “shoulds” or “oughts” but rather a long list of preferences we all have.

Ask yourself these temper preventing questions: Is there another way of looking at your situation? What would someone who isn’t angered be thinking about this situation? What is the worst thing that could go wrong? How can I benefit from this situation (remember that things don’t happen TO you but rather FOR you)? Will this matter in 5 years?

Think something should or must be different? Turn it into an “I’d like it to be different but it doesn’t have to be.” Think something is awful? Turn it into, “It’s too bad.” Think you must be different, that others must treat you differently and that your life must be better? Rid yourself of those demands. Demanding, insisting and expecting life to be different (D.I.E.) only wind up hurting you.

Is what you are thinking about a person, place, situation, event or thing true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, helpful (T.H.I.N.K.)? Always say or think, “I made myself angry.” Keep in mind it’s a foolish waste of time to do that to yourself.

What temper containing statements would you be wise to delete?

“She always does that!”

“They never listen to me!”

“You have to do this for me!”

“I absolutely must not be late!”

“These drivers should get the heck out of my way!”

“My life must be fair!”

“People must appreciate me!”

“He has to agree with me!”

So you can either manage your temper or you can think yourself out of it in the first place. It’s entirely your call. Marcus Aurelius observed, “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” Revoke it.

Author's Bio: 

Michael R. Mantell earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and his M.S. at Hahnemann Medical College, where he wrote his thesis on the psychological aspects of obesity. His career includes serving as the Chief Psychologist for Children’s Hospital in San Diego, and as the founding Chief Psychologist for the San Diego Police Department. He served on the faculty of UCSD’s School of Medicine, Dept. of Psychiatry. After 40 years of diagnosing and treating mental illness, he has retired from clinical practice---and as he describes, is now “reFired” and “reWired.”

He provides advanced behavior science coaching for sustainable strategic outcomes in mindful, values driven and positively adaptive ways to business leaders, entrepreneurs, athletes, individuals, families and organizations to reach breakthrough levels of success and significance in their professional and personal lives.

Michael is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Science for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, and served as the Senior Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He travels the world speaking with fitness and health professionals to provide the most current thinking and tools for behavior change. He has been a member of SAG/AFTRA since 1981, having appeared regularly on Good Morning America, as well as numerous talk shows and weekly appearances on TV and radio news.

Michael is an Organizational Advisor to Fitwall, Rock My Run, amSTATZ, speaks for Rancho La Puerta and the Asia Fitness Conference and Expo, in addition to numerous other fitness-health organizations throughout the nation. He is interviewed frequently for fitness and health magazines including Details Magazine, Men’s Health USA and UK, Women’s Health US and UK, Weight Watchers, Shape, Natural Health, Real Simple, Women’s World, MetRx, Better Homes and Gardens and a host of others in the health/wellness/fitness world. He has written for, and spoken for the International Council on Active Aging, the Medical Fitness Association, Athletic Business, IHRSA, and a host of other professional organizations in the health and fitness fields. He has been a keynote speaker for the University of California FitCon and UCLA “Stress Less Week.”

He is a best-selling author of three books including the 25th Anniversary updated edition of his 1988 original “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, P.S. It’s All Small Stuff,” and his 1996, “Ticking Bombs: Defusing Violence in the Workplace.” Heis listed in’s 2013 “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.” His fourth book is due out soon.