Let’s face it, we all get angry from time to time. Whether it is a momentary transgression or a full-on rampage, anger is a part of our lives. What’s more, it is completely normal to get angry; after all, it is a natural human emotion. However, as with many things in life, a lack of control can lead to serious problems. If you let your anger run unchecked, it will steamroll your entire life into a gigantic mess.Anger is not a particularly easy emotion to control for many people. And that’s fine, as long as you realize the fact and are willing to work on controlling it.
There are several ways to control, deal with, and manage this emotion, but before we discuss them, let’s try to understand anger itself.
Why Do You Get Angry?
We all know what anger feels like, but what happens to our bodies when we get angry? Well, to put it simply, the heart rate spikes and so does the blood pressure and there is a surge of adrenaline in the blood stream. But the question of why do we get angry is not that simple to answer.
There can be numerous reasons that trigger anger, and they can be both of an internal or an external origin. For instance, an external reason can be something that your co-worker did or a particularly frustrating situation like a traffic jam. An internal reason, however, may be much more complicated. Thinking about lingering personal problems or troubling memories can also cause a precipitation of anger. Either way, there is always a reason that sparks anger. The reason can be big or small, significant or petty, but it does lead to the same emotion.
Expression of Anger
The natural instinct to respond to anger is almost always aggression in most people. Think about it: anger is the emotion that you feel when you are threatened. So, not only is aggression a natural response, it may very well be a necessary one.
However, an aggressive response may not be appropriate in every situation. A certain degree of control is essential. Most people do realize this and devise methods to deal with angry feelings, both consciously and sub-consciously.
The Three Tenets of Anger
According to many psychiatric experts, there are three ways that we deal with anger: expressing, suppressing, and calming. The healthiest way to express anger is to express the feelings in an assertive yet non-aggressive manner. To do this, you must be clear about what you need and be respectful of yourself and the other people involved.
Suppressing your anger is also another way of dealing with this emotion. You can try to contain, convert, and redirect your anger by focusing on something that is positive. Although the aim is always to suppress anger and replace it with a healthy, constructive behavior, there are some risks involved.
If there is no outlet for this accumulated anger, it may start affecting your body. Anger that is directed inwards can lead to many health issues, including hypertension and even depression. Another problem of unexpressed anger can be a pathological expression, such as a cynical or hostile personality or passive-aggressive behavior, neither of which is good.
How to Manage Anger
As you can see, controlling anger and related issues is vital for the emotional and even physical well-being. So, how do you manage your anger? Well, the primary goal of any anger management strategy is to control and reduce both the emotional and physiological response to this feeling. It is crucial to understand that you can’t control other people and their behavior, but you can always learn to control your reactions to these behaviors.
Anger can manifest in different ways. Although some people are more susceptible to getting angry than others, the way in which they react to anger varies vastly. Some people get agitated, irritable, and at times violent when they get mad. On the other hand, some people have a different expression of anger. They sulk, go into a shell, and become grumpy, which affects their health.
Whether you fall into the first category or the second, constructively managing your anger can help you in a big way.
Anger Management Help for Adults of all Ages
Successfully managing anger is a strategy rather than a quick fix. It is a process that you may have to undergo over and over again until it comes naturally to you. Most successful anger management strategies focus on dealing with anger issues in the most constructive way possible.
The goal is to realize that you are angry and then control your response to the feeling in a way that is healthy for you and everyone around you. Here are some strategies that have helped millions around the world to manage their anger:
1. Accept that you are angry
Accepting that you are angry is the first step toward successful anger management. If you don’t accept that you are angry, you will never want to work on it, right?Many people make the mistake of thinking that if they acknowledge anger, it is the same as reacting to it. However, the reality couldn’t be farther. Whether you admit it to yourself or someone else, accepting that you are angry can help you deal with the feeling in a much better way. It can help you to recognize the issue and motivate toward finding a solution.
Again, accepting the fact that you are angry does not mean that you have the license to lash out at others. It just is the first step to try and control your response to the feeling.
2. Learn to relax
So, you accept that you are angry and upset, now what’s next? Well, the next thing is to relax and try to calm down. It is one of the easiest things to say, but one of the most difficult to implement.
Relaxing can help you think more rationally when you are angry and can even help you reduce the physiological impact of anger on your body. Many relaxation tools can help you to calm down and relax. Deep breathing and relaxing imagery can calm your mind and body down during the moments of rage.
Here are some things that you may want to try:
Breathe deeply: Many people don’t understand the meaning of deep breathing. Deep breaths occur when your diaphragm is involved in the process and not merely your chest. Inhale as deeply as you can and picture each breath entering and exiting your body.
Set a calm word: Uttering a simple word such as “relax” or “it’s okay” as you breathe can help you to relax. You can use any word you like, even the infamous “Serenity now!” from the TV show Seinfeld! As a Christian, it certainly helps to pray about the anger you are feeling. Ask God for wisdom and a calm mind to work through your anger in a healthy way.
Imagine relaxing visuals: Closing your eyes and imagining a babbling brook or a dewy meadow can go a long way. Picture a scene that is calming to you. It can be real or pure imagination.
Learn simple stretching exercises, yoga and/or breathing techniques: Yoga is a trove of wonderful relaxing techniques. Numerous breathing exercises in yoga help you to relax your mind as well as your body. As a Christian, you may not be as interested in yoga, but it certainly does help to gently stretch and/or work through some of your anger with simple exercises.
Try to practice these exercises and techniques every day, even if you are not angry. Practicing them over and over will help you to use them when you need them the most.
3. Cognitive restructuring
This is a fancy way of saying, “Change the way you think.” Have you ever wondered how filthy your words get when you get angry? Well, it is common to use excessively colorful and dramatic language when you are angry, but make an effort to replace these words with more constructive and rational ones.
Always make sure that certain words take on an entirely different meaning when used in anger. Terms such as “never” and “always” can have a deeper impact when used angrily. For instance, when people are angry at someone, they frequently use phrases like, “You never clean,” or “You always forget.” Well, these things are seldom true, aren’t they? And yet they help you to justify your aggressive reaction. Not only that, but these words can humiliate and alienate the other person and eliminates the chance of a conversation.
Always make sure that you are reminding yourself that anger will never solve an issue, especially when you are not angry.
Anger may be justifiable at times, but the reaction to it is almost always irrational. Hence, if you think logically, you can manage the angry feelings. Many people who get infuriated often brush logic aside for irrational thinking. It is crucial that you understand that the only way to resolve the issue that is making you angry is by working on it in a logical manner.
4. Solve the problem
There is always some reason for getting upset – an issue that needs resolution. However, if you choose to express your anger in an irrational burst, all chances of solving the problem are finished. Always remember that at times, your anger may very well be justified, but an outburst is not.
Try working on the problem and coming up with a solution. After all, if there is a problem, there is a solution, right? Well, unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Some problems may not have an apparent solution and can cause enormous frustration. It is crucial how you deal with such problems. The best attitude to have in this circumstance is to focus on how to handle the problem rather than finding a solution.
Trying to solve a problem with no solution can lead to frustration and can aggravate anger issues. Take a closer look at the problem, analyze, and figure out ways around it. You don’t have to solve every problem that comes your way!
5. Focus on communication
Communication is the key to managing anger. Most angry people draw overreaching, broad, and at times, inappropriate conclusions. If you are involved in a heated argument, the best thing to do is slow down a little. Think before you speak and give a lot of thought to your responses. Remember, you may not control what others have to say, but you sure can control how you respond.
Always listen completely to what the other person has to say. Many people make the mistake of cutting the other person off in the middle of the conversation. Not only does that lead you to draw wrong conclusions, but also makes you appear rash.
It is usually difficult to take criticism in a constructive manner, let alone during a fit of rage, but you can try to understand the sentiment behind the words. If the criticism is legitimate, you should be ready to accept it graciously. You have flaws like everyone else, and you can’t make everyone happy. Some people will have issues with you the same way you have problems with other people.
Learning to listen is the key to start a conversation. And if there is a conversation, there is no room for an angry outburst!
6. Use laughter to diffuse tense situations
You can’t be mad and laughing at the same time, can you? Humor is a great way to dissipate anger. For instance, many people who are angry often feel that they are morally right and anyone who challenges them is wrong. If you feel that way, try to picture yourself like a god or a supreme being! The more detailed your imagination is, the better. Soon you will realize how unreasonable you were being. You will realize that the problems that are driving you mad are, in fact, minuscule in the grand scheme of things.
That said, always make sure that you use humor to face your problems more constructively. Don’t just laugh the problems off and ignore them. Also, avoid sarcasm and dark humor, which, in fact, is another way of venting anger.
7. Walk away
If you feel that anger is getting out of control, just walk away from the situation. Take a break. Sometimes a situation can cause frustration and irritation. Walking away for a bit can help to control your response.
Take a walk in the open or go for a drive to get your mind off the situation. Give yourself space. Ask people around you, in a polite manner, to give you some alone time. Give yourself a break and come back with a new perspective.
8. Consider getting professional help
If these strategies don’t work and you still feel at the mercy of your temper, it might be a good idea to get professional help. A psychologist or other mental health professional can help you deal with anger issues. These professionals have the expertise and tools to help people with anger issues.
You can talk to the therapist and let him/her know about your problems and work to find a solution. Many therapists also conduct group sessions that can be immensely helpful.
Something to take homeIt is crucial to remember that you can’t eliminate anger, and neither should you. No matter how hard you try, you will get angry at times. Life sometimes throws situations at you that are just beyond your control. However, you can control how you handle yourself under those conditions. Letting anger get the better of you is the worst thing that you can do.
Make an active effort to control your anger and manage your angry thoughts. Use the tips in this article to keep that anger monkey off your back. Trust us, it may not be easy to manage your anger, but it is very possible!
Edmondson CB, Conger JC. A review of treatment efficacy for individuals with anger problems: Conceptual, assessment, and methodological issues. Clin Psychol Rev. 1996;16(3):251-275. doi:10.1016/S0272-7358(96)90003-3.
Tschannen TA, Duckro PN, Margolis RB, Tomazic TJ. The Relationship of Anger, Depression, and Perceived Disability Among Headache Patients. Headache J Head Face Pain. 1992;32(10):501-503. doi:10.1111/j.1526-4610.1992.hed3210501.x.
Holloway JD. Advances in anger management. Am Psychol Assoc. 2003;34(3):54. www.apa.org/monitor/mar03/advances.aspx, Feb 17, 2014.
“Angry Man,” courtesy of pixabay.com, pexels.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Annoyed,” courtesy of pixabay.com, pexels.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Relaxation,” courtesy of pixabay.com, pexels.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Victory,” courtesy of unsplash.com, pexels.com, CC0 Public Domain License