When this happens it can sabotage our relationships, jobs and well-being. Fortunately, there are many ways we can learn to control and manage our anger so read on for some helpful tips and strategies.
What is anger?
Anger is a strong emotion of displeasure, hostility or antagonism towards a person, circumstance or thing and is sometimes accompanied by an urge to do harm. It is a combination of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors when you are, or think you are, severely frustrated by unfortunate conditions and by other people's 'unfair' behavior.
Most mental health experts agree that anger is a normal and necessary human emotion. It is necessary to our survival when we are attacked, under threat, or feel the need to defend ourselves.
On the other hand, when it gets out of control, anger can become destructive and lead to endless problems. It is neither useful nor appropriate to lash out at anyone and anything that irritates or annoys us. Societal laws, norms, and common sense itself, set limits on how far we can take our anger.
Although many of us use a variety of processes in dealing with anger, there are, for the most part, three main approaches: expressing, suppressing and calming.
Expressing angry feelings is necessary and healthy, however we must learn to do it assertively rather than aggressively. We must learn to communicate what we need and want without offending others. We cannot let loose and become hostile or aggressive because not only does it put others on the defensive, it exacerbates the situation. Likewise, it turns people off and compels them to distance themselves from you. Needless to say, expressing anger aggressively and forcefully can ruin relationships both personal and professional.
Anger can be suppressed, converted or redirected. This takes place when you hold your anger inside, try to stop thinking about it, or focus on something else. This type of response can be very harmful in that, when you don't allow outward expression of anger, it can turn against you. Sigmund Freud's hydraulic theory states that anger, or any other emotion for that matter, tends to increase in intensity or expand under pressure like steam if suppressed. If you don't give it free vent, you risk doing real harm to yourself. Turned inward anger can cause high blood pressure, ulcers or depression. Unexpressed anger can also lead to pathological expression such as passive-aggressive behavior or becoming overly critical, cynical or negative. Again, this would lead to poor relationships with others as well as making life miserable for you.
Ultimately the goal in dealing with anger is to learn how to calm it down. This can be done effectively by using a combination of physical and cognitive strategies.
As you can see, anger is a normal emotion and necessary for self-preservation, yet taken to extremes, it can be harmful and self-defeating. If we learn good anger management or how to control it, it will not control us.