No matter how self-regulated we try to be, we all get mad at some point. Unfortunately, our anger is usually directed towards someone. We yell at our kids, snap at our spouse, write a nasty e-mail to a co-worker, or give the grocery store cashier an attitude. The thing is, the person you are taking your anger out on is usually not the person who drove you to that point in the first place.

Yes, that individual on the receiving end of your wrath may have contributed to your anger, but if you dig deeper, you may find that you are really mad at someone else altogether. Something happened or has been happening that pushed you to this point. This is called misdirected anger, and if gone unchecked, it can ruin relationships and stifle your personal and professional growth.

The next time you feel yourself getting irate or angry, take a break and ask yourself, who am I actually mad at? For example, before you get nasty with the cashier for messing up your order, examine why you may be upset at something that is so easily fixed. Chances are, you had a lousy day at work or are thinking of something else entirely. The solution in these situations is to fix the problem at work, not yell at the cashier.

The next time you want to snap at your spouse, stop and ask yourself why you are about to be mean to someone you care about. Ask yourself what this potential fight is going to resolve. If you dig just a little deeper, you may discover that you are upset about something else in your relationship. This is where you need to focus your energy. By fixing the overarching problem, you can avoid future fights and draining arguments.

It’s okay to get upset and frustrated from time to time, we’ve all been there. The fact is that it rarely does any long-term good. Instead, identify what brought you to that point and what you can do to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.