Anger Management 101: How to Hold Your Tongue When You’re Mad

by Asatar Bair on June 5, 2013

“Oh really? Well you’re a selfish dirtbag!”

Don’t you hate it when someone says something that makes you mad, and then you just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, when you know full well that it’s going to go wrong?

Call it Anger Management 101.

Usually things get out of hand when you speak from a place of anger.

I know this all too well, for I have a fiery temper, and I truly wish I had a nickel for every time I let my temper get the best of me and said something I later wished I could take back.

Life is full of aggravating people and situations. One of the best ways to learn self mastery is to control your temper. Also, in most situations, speaking out of anger is an error — it will not advance your interests. Nine times out of ten, the one who wins in an argument or confrontation is the one who stays calm. If losing your temper does seem to be to your advantage, it is only at great cost to your relationships, and in the end, that will not do. So being able to hold your temper is a great power.

Meditation is the most effective thing I have ever done to help me control my temper.

I want to share three techniques with you that will help you hold your tongue when you’re mad. These techniques are presented in order of difficulty, so don’t worry if you can’t manage them all right now.

Technique #1: Build up the power of your breath.

Spend five or ten minutes each day breathing deeply, rhythmically, and slowly through your heart, as we do in Heart Rhythm Meditation. (If you can, feel your heartbeat and breathe in time with that, for example, 8 beats inhalation, and 8 beats exhalation.)

Once you feel comfortable with this (it would be good to spend a week or two just forming the habit), then work to deepen your breathing. We want to get to a full breath, one that is using far more of your vital capacity than you normally do.

As you develop the power of your breath, you will naturally gain control over your temper, as your self control advances. (An excellent way to really learn the basics of Heart Rhythm Meditation is to take our 8-week online course 101.)

As your breath develops, you will find you can draw upon your breath to help you in all sorts of situations, including when your temper is rising, and even in the very moment when you’re about to let loose a verbal tirade.

Technique #2: Transform your anger with the Water Breath.

Once you have developed the power of your breath through a steady practice of deep, rhythmic, heart-centered breathing, you’ll find your breath is a powerful tool that can be used to help you stay in your heart in many situations.

When you find yourself listening to someone and your temperature is rising, our you feel yourself getting upset for any reason, use the Water Breath: breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth, as you might do when you deeply sigh. You don’t have to do it in a way that is obvious, just shift the pattern of your breath. In so doing, you’ll become aware of how you’re breathing as well as changing it. (We teach the Water Breath in great detail in our course 102: The Four Elements, for which course 101 is required.)

Just doing the Water Breath will bring relief. If you have the mental space in the moment, consider the qualities of water: flexibility, persistence, grace, abundance, generosity, love. Water is soft; let it soften your temper. Water is often cooling; let it cool your brow. Water sinks; let it relax your shoulders and slow your pulse.

Technique #3: Transform your anger with the Fire Breath.

There are times when the Water Breath is not the best way of working with your anger. Sometimes anger is called for. Certain things in this world should not be meekly accepted, they should be changed, and for that you will need the energy that manifests itself in your temper.

Yet it is the hasty, ill-considered stroke that goes awry. You must have some control over yourself to use your temper for the greater good. Otherwise you just blow up and feel bad about it, accomplishing nothing.

So this technique works with your anger, not against it as the Water Breath did. Now you will employ the Fire Breath. This technique is more advanced because it requires more faith in the Fire Breath, which comes with practice and familiarity. (We also teach the Fire Breath in great detail in course 102, then return to it in course 104: Healing Your Heart.)

The Fire Breath is breathing in through your mouth and out through the nose. As you shift your breathing pattern, you become aware of how you were breathing. Deepen your breath, and feel that your breath comes into your body through your solar plexus, and rises to the center of your chest, radiating outward as you exhale.

Going with your anger means you focus on it, as though your anger were a flame that you are turning into a blaze with your breath. Make it burn brighter, brighter still, and as the fire of your emotion burns, let it purify. Make it about something bigger than just this situation, bigger than your own feelings, your own identity, your own story. Make it as big as the Universe, letting the fire of anger become so hot, so bright, and so pure, that it becomes Truth.

Truth is much bigger than your own point of view, bigger than your own short fuse, your own hurt feelings. Truth embraces every point of view at once. When you’re coming from this place, you have the energy to do more than just hit back. You have the energy to feel what would be best for all in the situation, and act on it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts — please write a comment below and tell me how these techniques work for you.

yours in the One Heart,



Anita Ryan June 5, 2013 at 1:01 pm


What I have really been enjoying about your writing and about heart meditation in general is its practical nature and clarity. It keeps me motivated to continue with my practice. Thanks.


Asatar Bair June 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Hi Anita,
Wonderful — thank you so much for your comment!

constance harmse June 12, 2013 at 1:42 am

Good day Asatar
I have five sisters, three are fine, but two have not spoken a word to me in a year.
My sisters daughter spoke to my daughter and said her step dad is sexually taking advantage of her. But when I confronted my sister she told me to butt out of her life, she will sort it out. She hasn’t. But told me she hates me and dont care if i die. As she is believes i told her this to ruin her life. I have never gone to the authorities with this, wish I had, but that will just make matters worse. I still hear from my other sisters how they bad mouth me and even refuse to attend my wedding. I have sent them both an invitation. But when i hear the kinds of things they are saying it makes me mad. Was I wrong to talk to her about this, even though I know they just swept it under the rug? She told her daughter to tell the family she lied, and yet I can not shake the feeling or stop thinking about what this child is going through mentally. As they are not very Godly people…
Can you advise

Asatar Bair June 12, 2013 at 9:41 am

Dear Constance,
What a heartbreaking situation. I appreciate you sharing it with me. It’s a great challenge to confront someone with something like this. It’s so sad to hear that your sister took it as a personal affront rather than an attempt to bring the truth to light. It’s often the case that sexual abuse is enabled by other family members, who look the other way, ignoring the signs even when they are obvious. The risk of telling the truth is that you get blamed. Of course the situation is not your fault, it is the stepfather who perpetrated it and your sister who refuses to see it. I would recommend more openness. Have you spoken to your niece about this? It’s important to end the spiral of shame that keeps this secret hidden. Also, you might look at what are the alternatives for your niece? Does she have a way out of her household if that is her choice?
On a final note, keep thinking of her and praying for her. Prayer can work wonders when other avenues seem closed.

Wagner June 14, 2013 at 9:14 am

Thanks for the video. I certainly do aippecrate it as I have been wanting to incorporate deep breathing into my daily routine. I will begin to check it out. One question, if you’re still around: I notice that when I breathe deeply as I check my BP with an electronic monitor, my systolic decreases for that reading.. This is desirable for me. Thoughts?

Asatar Bair June 14, 2013 at 9:20 am

Hi Wagner,
Yes, slowing your breathing reduces blood pressure. (Some references on that can be found here.) You might try doing a little study on yourself, measuring your BP each day over time. I’d love to know how it goes for you. Thank you for your comment.
warm regards,

Curtis Simpson July 27, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Hi Asatar,
This is an excellent looking at anger and how meditation can be used with it. I have been using the water breath pretty exclusively the past month and find that it brings a soothing attitude and ability to go deeper into my situations. And this depth is what I need right now to fill a need in my heart.

Asatar Bair July 27, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Dear Curtis,
Thank you so much for your comment. It’s wonderful that you’ve been having such great results with the water breath.

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