There are lots of reasons to be angry each day, in fact, most people are angry about something on some level. Anger is an integral part of our nature with psychologists suggesting that anger is a necessary emotion with a specific function.
Different people experience anger in different ways. Personality, upbringing, sensitivity levels, personal circumstances, and life experiences combine to determine how often you get angry and to what extent. Most people learn how to control their anger in their early childhood when parents try to teach them to use their anger in a controlled and constructive way rather than lash out destructively.
Ultimately, anger is a reaction to feelings of irritation, frustration or powerlessness. If you find yourself in a situation where someone is irritating you, you are likely to get annoyed. Similarly, if you feel stuck and frustrated, you may also get angry. Feelings of powerlessness can also invoke strong feelings of anger.
Unfortunately, some people have an exceedingly short fuse. They get angry about seemingly meaningless things, overreact and often throw violent tantrums even in adulthood. Such violent outbursts usually either stem from unresolved issues or the inability to control emotions. Highly sensitive people may also get angry more quickly.
Such people often cannot control their anger and allow themselves to react abusively to others or towards themselves. Some people get aggressive and strike out, while others destroy objects. If these types of incidents occur on a regular basis, anger becomes a real problem, not just for the angry individual, but also for all the people around her/him.
Nowadays, we are expected to have the ability to control our anger- but this is often more easily said than done. If you are among the many people who struggle to control their anger and it is threatening the quality of your relationships, perhaps you should look for ways to improve the management of your anger.
Though often derided, anger management classes can be very useful. Trained professionals teach people how to express feelings of anger constructively rather than destructively. Real progress can be made, even with the most tempestuous of individuals.
It is also worth looking at the following ways of controlling your anger, particularly if you feel anger is ruining your life.
- Embrace Your Anger: At times, getting angry is a necessity, and even if you get angry about a seemingly minor issue, you need to validate that anger and recognize it for what it is. Don’t berate yourself for getting angry. Instead, take a deep breath and accept your own anger. Failing to do so will not ease your anger, instead, it gets buried somewhere deep inside you and you risk blowing up at a later stage. This is not a healthy process and consequently, embracing feelings of anger is essential.
- Take a Step Back and Verbalize Your Anger: Try to put some distance between yourself and the cause of your strong irritation. Once you’ve achieved some distance, try to understand what has made you angry and put it into words. Write it down if you feel it would work. You are likely to move toward identifying the underlying issue or at least toward verbalizing your emotions. By doing so, you take the heat out of the situation and are likely to calm down a little.
- Find Constructive Anger Release Mechanisms: Don’t punch the person who has angered you, don’t smash a window or slam a door. If you are seething, recognize your anger and find a way of releasing it. This may involve a physical activity like going for a jog, hitting a punch bag, doing breathing exercises or other physical ways of letting it all out. By allowing yourself to express your anger in this fashion, your anger will start to dissipate.
- Try to Get to the Bottom of It: When you’ve calmed down a little, try to figure out why you are so angry. If you find that it was just a minor issue, just let it go. If, however, you discover major issues in need of resolving you will have to deal with them at some point, preferably when you are calm and rational. Some people misplace their anger, i.e. they get angry about little things instead of dealing with a festering unresolved problem. In such cases, it may be wise to seek the help of a psychologist and work through whatever difficulties you are experiencing.
- Forgiving and Letting Go: Though anger is a necessary emotion, long-term bottled up anger is bad for you and can seriously impact your overall happiness. While someone may indeed have wronged you, at some point, you will have to let go of the issue and forgive the perpetrator. However, you have the right to tell your counterpart that you feel wronged. Ideally, calm conflict resolution will guide you from a state of anger to the complete release thereof.
- Embrace the Bigger Picture: At the height of emotions, it may be difficult to see beyond the issue that’s infuriating you. However, a little down the track, try to recognize that you are only angry about certain issues and are perfectly content with everything else.
- Initial Timeout is Crucial: If you tend to express your anger destructively, the most important thing to work on is your initial reaction. Timeout or taking several deep breaths can go a long way toward taking the sting out of an angry situation. If you get passed the initial rage, you are likely to be in a position of dealing with the issue at hand in a calm and reasonable fashion. You won’t resolve anything when utterly enraged and need to learn how to take a step back during those crucial first few minutes.
Anger is Manageable
Anger management is possible and with the above techniques, you should be able to use your anger as a fuel for constructive change rather than destructive behavior. Whatever you do, don’t suppress it and don’t lash out. Instead, identify your own personal coping mechanism and practice using it whenever you can.