It is when you are feeling most stressed, upset and angry, that you must channel all that powerful Herculean energy into dynamic and creative expression of body, mind and soul……That or watch your favourite comedy video on Youtube. Nothing kills a mad rage like a bit of laughter. GO!
Don’t fear anger because anger is simply a normal emotion that we have as humans. And, when it’s managed appropriately, anger is not problematic at all. We all get angry at times. There is no shame in experiencing anger. It’s how we use that anger and channel it that is the thing we need to look at. Channelling our anger into beating someone up may feel good at the time, but it’s not the best solution in the long run. But channelling our anger into creative expression, fitness or work is highly productive and will allow us to move mountains with that energy source.
A mild dose of anger will actually be able to help us to express powerful emotions we are feeling, and handle situations. But, it’s when we express anger in ways that are harmful, or if our anger continues for a long time and doesn’t go away, then it results in problematic relationships with lovers, friends, family, colleagues and even strangers who just happen to pass us by. Anger is such a powerful emotion that it will be able to negatively impact your whole life if you don’t do something about it. As in take control of it.
First we will take a look at what anger actually is. Then we will explore the reasons why we get angry. We’ll look at why anger is a problem, why and how to manage it and when to seek help if none of the above seems to work for you.
Anger: What is It?
Anger is a human emotion which ranges in intensity from slight irritation to fury and heated rage. Anger is an emotion that brings with it physical changes to your body. When we feel anger, it results in a rise in our heart rate, our blood pressure begins to increase, and our body releases stress hormones. This might result in physical reactions such as shaking, feeling physically hot or heated, sweaty, and it causes a sense of us losing control.
When we feel anger, we tend to act out in angry ways like raising our voice, saying critical or nasty things, swearing, yelling, slamming doors, storming off, throwing things, or more subtle behaviours like withdrawing, ignoring, being silent, and not doing anything.
The thing about anger is that when it’s not properly managed and controlled, it can very often escalate to violence. When we act out in violent or abusive ways (whether physically or psychologically), we are trying to punish the other person to regain that sense of power and control we feel we have lost as a result of experiencing the emotion of anger. We also feel that by punishing someone through our aggression towards them (whether passive aggression or general aggression) we feel we are levelling out the scales of justice for ourselves and defending ourselves from the unfairness we are experiencing from the other person who has caused us this anger experience. Sometimes we might also feel that by expressing our anger to the other person we will be teaching them a lesson so they don’t make the same mistake again.
…So why do we get angry?
Most commonly, anger is directly linked to frustration-we feel frustrated that things aren’t happening in exactly the way we want them to and that people in our lives that we come into contact with on some level whether it be family, work, social or online don’t act in the way we believe they should be.
What is important for you to understand here is that anger is almost always attached to other negative feelings, or is a response to negative feelings we are having. You might be feeling emotions like: afraid, sad, ashamed, disappointed, in pain, worried or annoyed, but actually express these emotions as anger.
Anger is also an outcome of interpersonal misunderstandings and poor interpersonal communication.
Sometimes men and women may deal with and express their anger differently. Men may experience anger as a primary emotion because social conditioning has taught us that anger is appropriate for men to express in contexts, while it is quote often more difficult for difficult for men to communicate their emotions that lie beneath their anger, such as feeling sad, hurt, lonely or afraid. Commonly women experience the opposite, and express anger by crying about something that had “upset” or “hurt” them.
When Does Anger Become Problematic?
Anger turns into a problem when it results in problematic interpersonal relationships or situations such as problems with your friendships, at your workplace or school, with your neighbours or general members of the community, your general health and wellbeing, everyday life or with government authorities.
Anger also poses as a problem when people close to your or who you work with or come into contact with in your everyday life experience fear, hurt or do not feel comfortable to talk to you or disagree with what you say for fear of you becoming angry. Please see some examples below to understand about this a little further:
You know anger is a real problem when:
-your anger involves being verbally/emotionally/physically/psychologically abusive
-your anger experiences and or outbursts occur frequently
-those closest to you have concerns and or fears about your anger
-your anger is creating problems in your home life or work life
-you believe you need to become angry in order to get your way
-your anger or temper seems to be getting worse
-your anger doesn’t go away easily and is easily triggered off again with something seemingly minor
-your anger remains long after the event that caused the anger has passed
-your anger impacts on other contexts completely unrelated to the original situation that made you angry in the first place
-you are getting sick and tired of your anger issues
-you drink or do drugs or have sex to try and escape or deal with your feelings of anger
-you find yourself taking your anger out on people you love the most or who are closest to you, or people you see as less powerful or more vulnerable than you, as opposed to managing your anger directly with the person or context that initially triggered your anger
Why Managing Anger is So Important
While we discussed earlier about anger being a normal human emotion, it isn’t typically an ideal solution to dealing with difficult situations or people. Badly managed anger or anger that is completely not addressed creates a myriad of problems, both for you and the people around you.
Individuals with poor ability to deal with their anger are more likely to experience problematic interpersonal relationships at home or work, physical and or verbal conflict and or property damage. These individuals are also likely to experience anxiousness and depression, low levels of self esteem, psychosomatic conditions (psychical manifestations of psychological distress) and substance abuse issues. It is essential that anger is correctly managed before escalates and permeates other aspects of your life.
In the past it was believed that venting anger was effective to manage anger, however research has now discovered that this approach in fact increases aggression and doesn’t solve anything. Stewing on your anger and not dealing with it doesn’t work either.
So what does work?
The best way to effectively manage our anger is to express some of angry feelings in a controlled manner as opposed to bottling our angry emotions up. This allows us the chance to express some of our emotions so that we can deal with the core issues that are causing us to feel anger.
What Anger Management is About
Anger management enables us to learn about or anger and understand why it occurs, we learn to know what causes our anger and how it all happens. We develop and practise positive ways to express our anger, and we learn how to prevent our anger levels from even arising in the first place. Anger management teaches us how to identify the triggers and early warning signs of our anger, and it teaches us how to develop strategies to relax and calm ourselves down, and deal with the event before it spirals out of control .
Easy Ways To Manage Our Anger
Let’s first learn to identify our triggers and the early warning signs of us becoming angry!
Step 1. Get to know exactly what situations trigger your anger and recognise all of the different ways your body gives your warning signals that you’re angry
Write down all the things that trigger your anger. Make sure that the list includes all of the little things that make you angered (eg not being able to get a seat on the train on the way home from work after an exhausting day, a colleague denying they said something they said, a team
Member failing to adhere to commitments he or she has made which affect everyone, a flat mate having the tv blaring well past midnight when you have work early the next morning) . The trick with this activity is that if you know well beforehand what is going to make you feel anger, you are in a better position to either handle things or change your behaviour when these situations arise in the future.
Get to know those warning signs in your body!
Let’s now look at what happens to your body when you are beginning to start feeling anger:
Things like; a Pounding heart, flushed cheeks, tense jaw, chest tightened, teeth gritting, sweating. The quicker you can identify these warning signs in your body, the better equipped you will be to make yourself feel calm and relaxed before your anger escalates out of control.
Techniques to Manage Your Anger
Different techniques will suit different people. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another, so it’s important you try all of them out and see which ones are suited better to you.
1. Controlling your thoughts
Feeling anger leads us to experience irrational and exaggerated thoughts. We need to replace these irrational and exaggerated thoughts with ones that are more helpful, rational and good for us. When we replace our irrational thoughts with positive and rational ones, we will notice we will feel better. Let’s explore some examples:
Let’s say the thoughts that are going through our mind are like this: “this **** is f**#%ed up! ” the whole holiday has been spoiled now because of you or him or her or them or that. ” instead you could replace those thoughts with, I’m completely furious with what’s going on right now and it’s totally reasonable for me to upset but what is happening, but it will all work out in the end and staying in a state of anger isn’t going to resolve anything here.”
Create a whole list of possible things that you will be able to say to yourself (self talk) beforehand, during and afterward possible situations that are likely to make you snap. This will help you to focus on how you’re dealing with what is going on that’s making you angry, as opposed to what someone else should or
Should not be doing.
Possible self talk statements to use beforehand.
- “I am gonna be able to deal with this just fine. It isn’t gonna be easy, but I have an action plan to get me through it.”
- “I have a choice of how I will deal with my anger when it arises next time.”
- “The only thing I will have complete control over next time someone hurts me, lets me down or upsets or annoys me, is how I manager my aggression in response to what occurs.”
Possible self talk statements to use during:
- “I choose to remain calm in this situation because losing control and losing my temper will only create negative energy that I don’t need in my life. “
- “Whatever is going on with this person I choose not to take it personally because it’s not my issue and I won’t play into the drama.”
- “My fears were just fears they aren’t reality. I can control these thoughts and I can pick and choose what thoughts I want to entertain and what I don’t want to entertain.”
- “As I breathe in and out, my need to be right and have control over other people and situations is released.”
Possible self talk statements to use afterwards:
- “I really handled that situation well and this shows me that I can do this. The more I practice this and realise that anger management is a skill, the better I will get at it and the more automatic it will start to feel.”
- “Eventually this anger management stuff is going to feel like second nature to me and I won’t even consciously realise I am doing these techniques.”
- “I am proud of myself for acknowledging my angry feelings, but not lashing out and reacting negatively. I stayed calm and kept my cool without pushing down my emotions.”
Have a Time Out
When feeling angry and that your anger levels have plummeted out of control, step away from that specific environment or setting where the argument is taking place. Maybe leave the room or go for a run or go and do something else. Before exiting that situation though, it is important to actually schedule a specific time to discuss what has occurred afterwards at a later time, when all involved have settled down. Whilst having your
Time out plan put how exactly you are going remain calm when you do return and address the issues with the people who frustrated you.
A brilliant way of managing your anger is to distract yourself from whatever it is that is making you feel anger. The mind is a very powerful tool and when you control your thoughts and choose what thoughts you will or will not entertain, you can control how you feel as a result. When you notice negative or angry thoughts formulating, stop them before they continue by switching to a new thought or a completely different activity to distract your mind from what is causing you anger. Some experts suggest counting to ten or fifty or a hundred. Others recommend playing relaxation music, calling a loved or close friend or investing your energy into work or study or exercise. Choose what works for you.
Do stretching, breathing, yoga, dancing and body movement to allow your physical body to release all that muscle tension and get your breathing back to its natural and relaxed rhythm.
Make Yourself Laugh
Use laughter as a tool to counteract any anger you are feeling. Laughter is the best medicine. If you are feeling really angry, have in hand with you (prepare in advanced) a quick access with a swipe of a button to your favourite comedy show or favourite comedy scene in a film. It’ll not only distract you but send all those lovely chemicals into your body to counteract the bad stress hormones. You’ll feel better in no time!