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Anger Management - How to Control Your Anger

anger managment Anger management is necessary for living life fully and productively. Sometimes we get carried away and let our anger get the better of us.

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 Anger 
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.

Suppressing Anger
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.

Calming Anger
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.

Anger Management Techniques

  • Learn to relax. There are many relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, visualization or meditation that can help calm angry feelings. If you prefer a more physical approach you can go for a walk, lift weights or clean out the cupboards (fun and productive). You'd be surprised at how physical activity helps.

  • Problem Solve. Sometimes anger and frustration are caused by the real and unavoidable challenges in our lives. Rather than let ourselves get caught up in the helplessness or hopelessness of a situation, we can use a cognitive, problem solving approach to work it out. Also, understanding that getting angry won't fix anything or make you feel better (it may actually make you feel worse) helps you problem solve and work through it.

  • Communicate Better. Many times when we have a disagreement we get into trouble by blurting out the first hurtful thing we can think of to get the upper edge. If we would stop to listen to what the other person has to say and think about what we want to accomplish, we would save ourselves much anger, time and wasted effort. Good communication skills require listening, thinking and responding to issues rather than emotions (anger).

  • Use Humor. When you get too caught up in the heat of the moment, humor is a great way to defuse the situation. If you take a second to put the situation in a comical context, it can completely change your perspective. It's hard to stay angry when you're chuckling or laughing to yourself. And really, in the grand scheme of things is there anything so anger-worthy that it cannot benefit from your 'lightening up' about it? Try not to take yourself or the situation too seriously.

  • Change Your Environment. Sometimes when you're experiencing anger, it's a good idea to walk away from your immediate environment. It's surprising how a change of scenery can boost your mood or perspective. This applies for any emotion you're stuck in. Take a break. Walk away and do something different. When you come back to the issue that has made you angry or unsettled, you'll be able to look at it with a fresher, more positive attitude.

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.

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