Anger is a normal, healthy emotion. We have the power to understand it and manage it and it can be easy to manage with the right tools and insight. Anger becomes unhealthy when it reaches an extreme end such as rage; it becomes difficult to control and even destructive. Explosive anger can affect your relationships, work, and state of mind.
It’s important to understand what you are trying to communicate and how we want to say it so that we don’t hurt others or ourselves. Often times, anger can be a cover-up for what we are really feeling, such as deep hurt or shame. Anger can also be a symptom of underlying health problems, such as depression, trauma, or chronic stress. Finally, in some families growing up, expressing feelings is not encouraged. That’s why anger management and learning how to express anger is important; the goal is not to suppress it. Learning to control your anger and express it appropriately will help you have better relationships, achieve your goals, and lead a more satisfying and healthy life.
IF IT IS MORE THAN ANGER, YOU:
- Have a hard time compromising or understanding how to get your point of view across.
- You have trouble expressing emotions other than anger or pride yourself in being “tough.”
- View different opinions as a personal challenge, for example, getting angry when you’re not right for feeling like your values are being attacked rather than looking at things in a different way.
You can notice anger signs early in your body from:
- Knots in your stomach
- Clenching your hands or jaw
- Feeling clammy or flushed
- Breathing faster
It’s always best to avoid situations that bring out your worst. Other potential triggers and negative patterns in thinking include:
- Overgeneralizing with words such as always, never, and everyone.
- Having a rigid view and obsessing on how things should or must be when things don’t line up with your vision.
- Mind reading and jumping to conclusions about others.
- Collecting straws and reaching the “final straw” moment after looking for little things to get upset about and letting them build, usually while overlooking or blowing past anything positive.
- Blaming someone else when something happens rather than taking responsibility.
Anger management takes time and practice, but some tools to cool down include:
- Focusing on the physical sensations of anger and understanding where you feel it in your body.
- Taking some deep, slow breaths helps counteract rising tension.
- Exercising for release.
- Take advantage of the relaxing power of your sense of sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. For example, listening to music or picturing yourself in a favorite place.
- Stretching or massaging areas of tension.
- Counting to ten slowly to let your rational mind focus on catch up with your feelings.
- Giving yourself a reality check with questions such as: How important is it in the grand scheme of things? Is it really worth getting angry about it? Is it worth ruining the rest of my day? Is my response appropriate to the situation? Is there anything I can do about it? Is taking action worth my time?
HEALTHIER WAYS TO EXPRESS YOUR ANGER INCLUDE:
- Pinpoint what you’re really angry about.
- Take five if things get too heated.
- Always fight fair.
- Make the relationship your priority.
- Focus on the present.
- Choose your battles.
- Be willing to forgive.
- Know when to let something go.
Seek help if you still feel like you are not in control of your anger; anger shouldn’t control you. Individual therapy provides a safe place to process real reasons and triggers behind anger; classes and groups can also be very beneficial by hearing other people’s stories and examples; you are not alone.