Anger is a powerful, but often poorly handled, emotion. Frustration, hurt, annoyance, disappointment, harassment and threats may all trigger anger. Depending upon how you express it, anger may be friend or foe. Knowing how to recognize and express it appropriately can help you handle emergencies, solve problems and even protect your health. However, failure to recognize and understand anger may lead to a variety of problems.
Some experts believe that suppressed anger may cause both anxiety and depression. Unexpressed anger can disrupt relationships, affect thinking and behavior patterns, and cause physical problems, such as high blood pressure, heart trouble, headaches, skin disorders, and digestive issues. Uncontrolled anger correlates with crime, emotional and physical abuse, and other violent behavior.
Help yourself manage your anger by:
- Becoming aware of what you are feeling and when your anger occurs. Notice the signs that anger is building. For example, you may feel tense, impatient with others, or have a headache.
- Asking yourself “What is really bothering me?” Is an interaction with someone else or something inside you causing your anger? Avoid displacing your anger toward individuals who are not the cause of your anger.
- De-escalating with a “time out.” When you recognize the signs of anger, let people know you may need to walk away to cool off. Take a deep breath. Go to a quiet place, and continue breathing deeply to calm yourself down.
- Examining your options for behaving when you are angry. Visualize how you might respond. Take responsibility for your anger. Situations may contribute to your anger, but your behavior is your responsibility. You may be legitimately and appropriately frustrated, but you don’t have to be inappropriately hostile or hurtful. You choose how you respond. Work on developing more positive behaviors to replace the negative ones.
- Learning how to assert yourself, and talk to the person triggering your anger. Use the physical and mental energy that anger generates to channel your response to the situation. Tactfully and without threats, help the person see how his or her behavior affects you. Use “I statements” to describe how you feel, rather than accusing the other person.
- Recognizing that you nee to express yourself to others appropriately. Others are responsible for their responses to you.
- Developing activities that help you cope with anger. Exercise diminishes feelings of agitation and frustration. Daily practice of relaxation techniques can also help you cope with anger.
Online Resources on Anger Management
- Road Rage and Aggressive Driving
Dr. Lyle Becourtney demonstrates techniques for calming yourself while driving and offers strategies for avoiding encounters with angry drivers.
- Controlling Anger Before it Controls You (2011) from the American Psychological Association describes how you can learn to control your reactions to frustrating situations.