Being mad often leads to bad and unwise decisions. Sometimes it’s hard to control but lucky for you, we’re here to help.

Let’s just say that you and your office-mate — or relative, partner or friend in that matter — had some misunderstanding. The wounds are still fresh. You’re still furious. And every time you see or even had that person pass in your mind, you get mad (or beastmode). There are times that even though the incident was long ago, you still can’t get over it. So here’s what you can do:

Understand why you’re angry

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To overcome your anger, it’s best to know and fully understand what anger really is. These feelings are generated by what we call the “motivational system”. They are made to be a guide to help you measure how effectively your goals are being met. And it’s how you interpret those feelings that creates an emotional experience, like anger.

When a certain goal that matters to you gets blocked, you’ll automatically feel bad. The more important the goal, the more intense for the level of your negative feeling. When certain moments cause that goal to fail, then you’re frustrated by those moments. But when a certain individual is the reason for that goal to fail, then that’s the time you’ll get to feel angry.

The high energy and aggressiveness feeling that you experience is natural when being angry. Take medieval battles for example, if a warrior comes to fight an enemy, they usually yell out and use physical force to win. In our age, physical force can be useless. The usual advice that we get when we’re angry is to just force ourselves to forget the incident. But there are circumstances that what the person did to us is unforgivable and we really can’t stop being mad. Here’s another strategy:

If you can’t forgive and forget, then don’t.

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If the deed is so bad that you can’t forgive the person then don’t push yourself. But keep in mind that forgiveness always benefits the forgiver, not the forgiven.

One of the main reasons why we stay mad at a person is because we are constantly reminded of the things that they did to us. Those details make the transgression feel fresh and new. Remembering them refuels the brain to motivate us to stay mad. A little tips is if someone says “I can forgive but never forget”, it means that they’re lying. Because if you forgive someone, it helps you to forget the details of what happened between the two of you.

Over time, this forgetting makes it harder for the transgression to really activate your motivational system again. That means you’re no longer able to generate the energy required to really feel angry at the person. You may always be wary of them, and you may not fully trust them ever again, but what’s different than staying mad. Even if your relationship doesn’t recover, at least you won’t remain actively angry at them forever.

Keep them at a good distance, mentally.

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Well what if you really can’t forgive someone? Is there no turning back to the good times you spent with them? Not really. Even if you can’t forgive, you don’t necessarily need to put yourself in situations that preserve high levels of anger toward them. The intensity of your emotional reaction to a certain person depends on the degree of psychological engagement you have with them. That’s why if you’re angry with someone, you’ll always think repeatedly about the thing that they did to you, which keeps you emotionally engaged.

To avoid being mad again, do yourself a favor and give yourself some psychological distance from the situation. Focus on other important things in your life. When you can’t help to think of that scenario, just imagine it on your friend’s shoes and not from your own perspective.

Re-describe the situation

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Lastly, it’s worth noting that anger tends to lock us into a single way of thinking about what happened. And that interpretation is not a good idea. The good thing to do here is to find other means to re-frame the situation. If you’re angry think about the saying “Pag binato ka ng bato, batuhin mo ng tinapay” because it encourages you to look at the situation in a different way.

“That may not make you feel better about the person, but it may make you feel better about the situation”

It’s never easy to stop being mad at someone. Also, you may even feel like their behavior fully justifies that you should stay mad at them. But the emotion of anger can be powerful and it doesn’t always lead us to the right decision, especially in the office. If you can’t get a way to forget it, you won’t be just punishing the other person, but keep in mind that you are also hurting yourself.

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