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Anger management


We cannot physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us; laws, social norms, and common-sense place limits on the use of anger. People use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their angry feelings. The three main approaches are expressing, suppressing, and calming.

Anger management

The goal of anger management is to reduce both your emotions and the physiological arousal that anger causes. You cannot always get rid of, avoid, or change the things or people that enrage you, but you may learn to control your reactions to them.

There are psychological tests that measure the intensity of angry feelings, how prone you are to anger, and how well you handle anger, but, if you do have a problem with anger, you, and those around you already know it. If you find yourself acting in ways that seem out of control and frightening, you may need help finding better ways to deal with your anger.

Some people are more "hotheaded" than others are. While some people do not show their anger in loud, spectacular ways but they are chronically irritable and grumpy. Easily angered people do not always curse and throw things; sometimes they withdraw socially, sulk, or get physically ill.

People who are easily angered generally have a low tolerance for frustration. They feel that they should not have to be subjected to the frustration, inconvenience, or annoyance. Some children are born irritable, touchy, and easily angered and it never changes. 

Since anger is often regarded as negative; we are taught that it is okay to express anxiety, depression, or other emotions, but not to express anger. As a result, we do not learn how to handle it or channel it constructively. 

Family background also plays a role. Typically, easily angered people come from families that are disruptive, chaotic, and not skilled at emotional communications.

Ways to manage anger

Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive, but not aggressive, manner is the healthiest way to deal with anger. To do this, you must learn how to make it clear to yourself what your needs are and how to get them met, without hurting others. Being assertive does not mean being pushy or demanding, it means standing up for your principles and beliefs without being disrespectful of yourself and others.

Anger may be suppressed, and then converted or redirected. This happens when you hold in your anger, stop thinking about it, and focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your anger and convert it into more constructive behavior. The danger in this type of response is that if it is not allowed outward expression, your anger may turn inward. Anger turned inward may cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression. Anger may be redirected by using it in a constructive way, such as punching a heavy bag or running until exhausted. Punching a hole in the wall is not a constructive action.

Unexpressed anger may create other problems. It may lead to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behavior (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or developing a personality that seems perpetually cynical, and hostile. People who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments have not learned how to constructively express their anger.

A final way to deal with anger is to calm yourself. This means not just controlling your outward behavior, but also controlling your internal responses such as taking steps to lower your heart rate and calm yourself, letting the feelings gradually subside.

When none of these approaches are used or they do not work, someone is going to get hurt–it could be you.

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