What is Anger?
Anger is a complicated emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone you feel has deliberately done you wrong or harm.
Anger is not necessarily an emotion with only negative consequences. The controlled and productive expression of anger, for example, might motivate a person to find solutions to problems.
Anger can be caused by external events (another person, a bad driver) or internal events such as worry. Traumatic events may also trigger anger.
Excessive and unmanageable anger can cause problems, however. Physical changes, including increased blood pressure, along with emotional stress responses compromise clear thinking and decision-making, resulting in possible harm to physical and mental health.
While anger is a normal, usually healthy emotion everyone experiences from time to time, when anger becomes uncontrollable, it can cause problems at home and at work.
As anger is an adaptive response to threats that allows us to defend ourselves when we're attacked, anger is necessary for survival, but we must place limits on how far we allow anger to take us.
1) Expressing anger in an assertive way by making your needs known and expressing how to get them met is the healthiest way of handling anger.
2) Suppressing anger happens when you hold the anger inside and focus on something else, converting your feelings into more productive behavior. Suppressing anger can be helpful, but if the anger remains unexpressed, it turns inward.
3) Unexpressed Anger can lead to a cynical disposition marked by passive-aggressive behavior. Those who criticize others or put them down haven't learned how to properly express anger.
Signs You May Have Uncontrollable Anger:
- Are you angry a lot of the time?
- Are you angry without an identifiable cause?
- Has anyone ever said they are afraid of you?
- Have you found yourself in difficult situations (personally or professionally) because you acted in anger without considering the consequences of your words or actions?
- Does your spouse and/or friends avoid conflict with you?
- Has someone ever received a bruise as a result of your actions during an argument?
- Have you ever broken an object (glass, chair, vase, ashtray, etc.) during or right after an argument?
- Has a loved one ever accused you of being angry and you felt you had to prove him or her wrong?
- Have you ever surprised yourself by how angry you got and by what you did?
- Have you ever hurt yourself punching or kicking a wall?
- Have you ever been "blind" with rage, or could not remember what you did when angry?
Ways To Keep Anger Controlled:
Relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation can help control anger.
Take a break. Sometimes, our environment may irritate us to the point of anger. Make sure you have some personal time scheduled each day.
Solve problems with a plan. Since not all anger is misplaced, sometimes anger is a natural response to a very difficult situation without a "right" answer. Rather than focus on the solution, figure out how to manage the problem by making - and sticking to - a plan. Give it your best, but don't become angry at yourself if you can't find an answer immediately.
Change the way you think:
- Use cold logic on yourself as logic is rational and anger is irrational.
- Avoid using "always" and "never" when talking to yourself or someone else.
- Remind yourself that anger makes you feel worse, not better.
- Replace inner negative thoughts with more positive ones.
Use humor to diffuse rage and provide a more balanced perspective. Imagine the asshole that cut you off on the highway is actually a giant asshole. Should take some of the edge off the anger.
Use better communication by slowing down and thinking through your responses before spurting them out. Being defensive when criticized is normal, but listen to what the other person is saying before jumping to conclusions and acting out in anger.
Therapeutic counseling and classes are often recommended for people whose anger causes them to do things they regret, cause harm to the people around them, or whose behaviors are taking a toll on their personal and professional lives.
If you are confronted by a person who is irrationally angry, the best course of action is to walk away. It’s important to take reasonable precautions to protect yourself if leaving is difficult or impossible.
Addtional Anger Resources:
If anger has caused a person to become violent or someone you know is in physical danger, please contact the Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) 1.800.787.3224 (TTY)
10 Tips to Manage Your Anger: from the Mayo Clinic. Tips to help stave off anger in the face of frustrating situations.
Evolution of Self: What Your Anger May Be Hiding. An article from Psychology Today written by a psychologist
Taking Charge of Anger: website explaining anger to children.