How Do You Define Temper? Learn How To Overcome Your Anger

Updated December 18, 2018

Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault


Bruce Lee once said, "A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough." While that's one reason that we need to work to keep our temper under control, there are many other reasons as well. Having a bad temper or a "short fuse" might not seem like that big of a deal, but it can make an impact on every area of your life. And, unfortunately, it isn't always the easiest thing to fix. But, the place to start is to define temper and what kind of role it plays on anger in your life.

How Do You Define Temper?

Albert Einstein once said, "Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved through understanding." The first step to addressing anything is to understand it, and if there is one area where people could use peace, it's with their temper. However, if we apply what Albert Einstein shared, we know that we need to understand our temper to experience peace in this area.

Knowing how we define temper is the first step to understanding it. One of the Merriam-Webster dictionary's definitions of temper is, "heat of mind or emotion; proneness to anger," but it also defines it as a "state of feeling or frame of mind at a particular time usually dominated by a single strong emotion." And, defines tempers as, "a particular state of mind or feelings; the habit of mind, especially concerning irritability or patience, outbursts or anger, or the like; disposition; the heat of mind or passion, shown in outbursts of anger, resentment, etc.".

When most people think of "temper," they think of a bad temper. What usually comes to mind is someone that is easily angered or shows outbursts of anger. However, while the definition does include this type of description, it also includes a more general definition, "state of mind or feelings." People can have a good temper, an even temper, or a bad temper.

If you struggle with your temper, there is a good chance that you are often angry and people perceive you this way. Learning how to control your temper and overcome your anger will have a positive impact on your life.


Reasons to Work On Overcoming Your Anger

In the book Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, Ben Carson wrote "I came to realize that if people could make me angry, they could control me. Why should I give someone else such power over my life?" While not being in control of your temper and anger can give others power over your life, it also has many other ways that it impacts your life. There are many reasons to work on overcoming anger in your life.

Can Make You Appear Foolish

As Bruce Lee said in the quote in the first sentence of this article, not controlling your temper and anger can make you appear foolish. We don't tend to make the best decision when we can't control our tempers. It reflects poorly on our character, our image, and what others think of us.

Anger Ruins Relationships

It is impossible to have a healthy relationship when anger is at the center of it. If you have a problem with your temper and often find yourself angry, it won't take long before others don't want to spend a lot of time with you. Negative people bring down the moods of other people. If others see you as someone who is negative and constantly angry, they're going to want to restrict the time they spend with you.

Not being able to control your temper and having a bad attitude can ruin marriages, destroy parental relationships, and impact the relationships that you have with coworkers and your boss. When we are consumed by anger, it's very difficult to control the words that are coming out of our mouths. You will probably find yourself saying things that you later regret only when it's too late to do anything about.

It Hurts Your Health

Anger plays a big role in your physical health. People that constantly deal with anger are more likely to experience insomnia, digestive problems, depression, and headaches. They are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.


It Can Consume Your Thoughts

When your temper and bad attitude are controlling your life, it's difficult to accomplish any of the things that you set out to do. Anger takes over and consumes your thoughts making it difficult to make wise decisions. When this goes on for long enough, it can easily deter you from the path of reaching your goals.

How To Overcome Anger

Living in a constant state of anger can ruin your life. However, there are many tips that you can follow to help get your anger under control and overcome it. Doing so will have a positive impact on every area of your life. Here are some things that you can do to overcome your anger.


Many people don't like exercising but it spending time working out can do a lot of good for your mental health. Physical activity helps you to reduce some of the stress that you're dealing with, as well as help to produce mood-boosting endorphins. If you feel that your temper is starting to get out of control, take a walk or head to the gym to overcome it before it overcomes you.

Learn To Control Your Thoughts

Not having control of your thoughts is a surefire way to get lose your temper. Work always to be aware of what you are thinking about. If you find yourself thinking about a topic that is getting you angry, then purposely choose to change your thoughts. Write out a list of positive things in your life that you can think about whenever a situation like this arises. You can carry this list in your pocket or keep it on a note-taking app on your smartphone. When you are struggling with your thoughts, you can pull out your list and pick something new to think about.

Identify Your Triggers

Sometimes when we deal with anger, it tends to be over certain trigger points. If you can identify what things set off your temper, you can work to avoid them or be more aware of how you're behaving when faced with one of those situations. Once you know what your trigger points are you can also work to find solutions to the problem if possible, so you can eliminate the triggers.

Listen, Think, Then Speak

If you struggle with anger, there's a good chance that you speak before you think. One way to overcome this is to actively focus on listening first when in a conversation with someone else. When you listen without forming your own opinion while the other person is talking you may understand where they are coming from more. Once they are finished, you need to spend time thinking before you respond out loud. This will help you not to say something in haste that you will later regret. This is something that takes time to get used to, but it's a habit that can positively impact every relationship and area of your life.


Practice Mindfulness


Mindfulness is simply being aware of the situation at the moment it is happening. It involves taking time to shut down from all of the distractions and being still. If you want to start practicing mindfulness learn deep breathing exercises that you can use when you are faced with a situation where your anger is rising. Or, choose a phrase, verse, or quote that you can repeat to yourself over and over again when you feel your blood pressure rising.

Practice Forgiveness

It's very difficult to overcome anger if you are living in forgiveness and bitterness. Holding a grudge against someone who has wronged you has a bigger impact on you than it does on that person. It's important to know that forgiving someone does not mean that you are going to restore the relationship with them. It simply means that you're removing yourself as the judge over them, letting go of what wrong they did to you, and moving on freely. When you can do this and can remove bitterness from your life, you will see a positive change in your temper.

Don't Struggle On Your Own

If you have worked to understand how you define temper and the negative impact it's having on your life and still struggle with anger don't be afraid to seek help. There are many reasons why we struggle with anger. If someone has hurt you in the past, it can be very difficult to move forward. Or, if you struggle with anger and you don't quite understand why it's such a problem for you, talking to a licensed therapist can help you get to the root of the problem.

There is no reason that you need to walk through this process on your own. Everyone deals with anger and a short temper from time to time. But, if you find that you're in a constant battle with it, make an appointment with a therapist from BetterHelp to start addressing the problem. You will be incredibly thankful that you did.

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