Angry? Get a grip: How to avoid losing your temper like Justin Bieber or Sir Alan Sugar

  • A guide to help you keep cool even during heated moments

By Christine Webber


Does anyone ever look good when they lose their temper? I don’t think so. Lord Sugar, dubbed ‘Suralan’ by some, had to be told by lawyers – more than once – not to lose control at his recent tribunal battle with TV’s Apprentice winner and former employee Stella English. ‘This is a scam!’ he shrieked, jabbing his finger at the room.

And then there was the recent ‘meltdown’ by Justin Bieber, which ended in a profanity-laden exchange with a photographer.

Both are men used to getting their own way, which may explain the tantrums. We all get angry, but out-of-control anger is rarely productive and can become a problem, especially when it makes us behave in ways we might not want to. And it can be terrifying for family or colleagues to witness. So if you are often on a short fuse, what can you do?

Anger unmanaged: Canadian pop star Justin Bieber is held back by a member of his security team as he confronts a photographer outside his hotel in central London last week

Anger unmanaged: Canadian pop star Justin Bieber is held back by a member of his security team as he confronts a photographer outside his hotel in central London last week


There are times when people tend to lose control of their emotions. If you’ve been bereaved, lost your job or are dumped by a partner, the chances are you may find yourself overwhelmed by fury.

And there will be individuals with mental illnesses or conditions that render them unable to stem their anger. But the majority don’t have these excuses.


People prone to ‘boil over’ are often feared, but rarely respected. And they can end up ruining  relationships and psychologically damaging their offspring. In my psychotherapy practice, I often see adults who have massive problems because they spent childhoods treading on eggshells round a volatile parent. Once you’ve realised you have a  problem, there are steps to take that will help you regain control.


Let’s look first at a strategy that should prevent you from blowing your top. When people are furious, they inevitably move forwards angrily, and are often in danger of hitting someone. So: 

- Step back.

- Grab hold of something and hold on tightly: that way you won’t strike out.

- Breathe deeply.

- Count to ten.

This technique may need some practice, but it should keep you out of serious trouble.

Seeing red: Alan Sugar lashed out during his tribunal battle with his former employee Stella English

Seeing red: Alan Sugar lashed out during his tribunal battle with his former employee Stella English


Next, you can help yourself by working on ways to avoid getting angry in the first place. Try these: 

- Recognise that anger is not a condition, it’s a symptom that your life is unbalanced. If you get  insufficient sleep, go without breakfast, spend every day – including weekends – working, rarely take exercise, and have no time for yourself, you’ll be prone to extreme irritation and anger.

The brain and body were never designed to be treated so poorly. So plan how you can get more  balance into your life, and how to make small changes that will have a big effect on your temper and timetable. Doing more physical activity or playing a musical instrument also calms the spirit.

- Spot your triggers and defuse them. If the school-run rouses you to fury, find a way to make it less irksome. Get everyone up 15 minutes earlier to ease the tension. Or get your family organised in the evenings so all school clothes, homework, gym kits and packed lunches are in place before bed.

- Have a curfew on quarrels. There’s no doubt arguments tend to get out of hand after about 9pm when couples are tired or a bit boozed. If this keeps happening, agree you will avoid contentious topics at night. Important issues are better talked about in daylight hours when people are fresh and sober. You may also find that what seemed such a vital point the night before no longer troubles you the next day.

- Wear an elastic band round your wrist and when you feel you might lose your temper, twang it hard against your skin. This will sting and cause you to pause,  buying you time before you ‘explode’. Breathe deeply, and think. Are you still going to lose your temper? It’s your choice.  

-  Make your point as soon as you need to. Masses of people end up being furious because they failed to speak out when they were calm enough to be rational. If you’re assertive when a difficult issue arises, you won’t need to be aggressive later. So, if your  colleague isn’t pulling her weight, say: ‘I’d be grateful if you’d give me more help and support on this project.’ If you fail to talk to until you’re incandescent with rage, you’ll inflame the situation and make an enemy for life.

- Read Overcoming Anger: When Anger Helps And When It Hurts by Professor Windy Dryden. This book will show you how you can alter your angry moods by  examining and changing your negative thoughts and beliefs.


If you can’t change your behaviour alone, get help. Counselling called cognitive behaviour  therapy (CBT) is an excellent  treatment for anger. And if your temper is ruining your life – or that of other people – you may even get it on the NHS. Talk to your GP. Or find an accredited private therapist at

Importantly, extreme anger is bad for the health. If you become so furious that you ‘see red’, your blood pressure will rise, and you’ll increase the amounts of damaging stress chemicals – including adrenalin and cortisol – in your body  and brain.

So, a deep breath and a decision to calm down may not only improve relationships, it might even lengthen your life.


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