HOW TO CONTROL YOUR ANGER
Delay, communicate, manage your anger. It makes you powerfull!
Anger ranges from mild annoyance to rage. It is important to the survival of any species. It helps you realise stress. It is a normal healthy human emotion when it is in your control. But when it takes large proportions and is out of your control different areas of your life gets affected like work, interests, relationships and health. You lose out on a significant aspect of human personality which is self control and you end up living at the mercy of your emotions. Hence it is mandatory for your well being that you learn how to control your anger. With consistent practise anyone can develop self control skills. We all manage different emotions we experience. Self control can be developed by managing anger like any other emotion.
As we all know anger is a powerful emotion that ranges from mild irritation to intense rage. Like any other emotion it is followed by biological changes like high blood pressure, palpitations, intense energy due to changes in hormones like adrenaline, etc; Quick and intense hormonal changes can lead to immediate and long term health concerns like chronic pains, giddiness and weakness. Emotionally it can lead to a feel of anxiety and guilt. Socially you can feel isolated and lonely.
Causes of anger:
- Mismatched expectations or threat from a person or a situation in your life. This include rudeness, assault, low self esteem, humiliation, bullying, deception, etc; For example your colleague, boss, family member or friend. It could also be a stranger. Situation could be running late, damage to something, etc;
- Nostalgia and regret from the past.
- Anticipation of the future as it could lead to strong disappointments.
- Pain or sadness
- Frustration of any kind including tiredness, hunger, sexual frustration that implies unmet needs
- Threat to your physical objects
- Obstacles in your path while you are trying to achieve your goals
- Illness of any kind could be physical, emotional or mental
- Periods that lead to hormonal change particularly in women
- Side effects of medicines
- Feeling of failure or rejection
Manifestation of anger:
- It can be a hidden emotion which we try to hide as it is socially unacceptable and affects our dignity. But any emotion that is suppressed appears in some form or the other for example anxiety, depression, chronic pains, etc; It is unhealthy to suppress anger
- It can remain buried inside us as an emotion that we are not aware of in this case we take the passive aggressive approach and get into conflicts with others not realising that we are expressing our suppressed anger. Apart from affecting our relationships it can also add to physical and emotional symptoms.
- Then there is the spontaneous anger where you lose control and it takes place at the slightest provocation. It also becomes a learnt habit.
- Sometimes we also show anger to persuade, scare or dominate others. This form of anger is expressed on purpose.
- At other times we feel it is our right to feel angry due to the wicked things happening around us. We take it on us to express rage and set the practices right.
- One way in which most of us get angry at some time or another is defence. When we feel attacked we express our anger in defence. It is healthy as long as we do not lose control.
Many factors cause individual differences in the expression of anger. These factors could be physiology of an individual, family and cultural background. Physiologically some people are prone to anger and irritation compared to others. At the same time family structures plays an important role in how a person manages his or her emotions. Some families encourage constructive expression and model self control while on the other hand some families could be disruptive and do not see anger as a problem. This is also true to different cultures where how much of annoyance is acceptable.
Need for anger management:
Communication and expression is a very important aspect of our life which affects all other areas as well. There are individual differences, mismatched needs and expectations in all our personal and professional relationships. Communicating our needs assertively and vividly with constructive feedback would save us from adding the destructive quality of anger to our experiences. This is anger management. If you feel you expressing anger in a passive aggressive way as explained earlier or bottling it up it could be as harmful as expressing rage. In any of these circumstances you should consider professional help. If you get irritated and get angry too often it will certainly damage your over all wellbeing. It can also turn abusive and have a deep impact on other’s life around you. This could affect your self-respect, relationships and career. Violence and abuse of any kind should be immediately controlled and sought help for. Apart from that there could be other severe consequences of anger like palpitations, blood pressure, headaches, chronic pains, depression, anxiety, weak immune system, skin problems, sleep problems, loss or gain of appetite, self harm or substance abuse.
“Anger can have a deep impact on other’s life around you. This could affect your self-respect, relationships, career and may have severe consequences on your health such as blood pressure, headaches, chronic pains, depression, anxiety, weak immune system, skin problems, sleep problems, loss or gain of appetite, self harm or substance abuse…”
When you are angry it is on a range which implies the degrees might vary and not always the same. The undercurrent of being angry is usually ‘fight or flight’. Which means either you run away or you fight back. This is a primitive way of thinking which takes over you while angry. You see things in complete black or white. Further you stop seeing things in context of reality. You also stop empathising and looking at things from other’s perspectives. In short you have a very narrow minded perspective. Anger management is being aware of the frustration points that make you angry and lead to lack of self control. These points are called triggers. They stem from the understanding that why do you actually get angry. You need to learn to ask yourself questions like ‘What situations make me angry?, ‘Who makes me angry’, ‘How do I react when I am angry?’, ‘What negative effects take place on my relationships once I react in anger?’, etc; As anger is a reaction of a perceived threat that you feel defensive about it would also help you to ask yourself what is it that you might be scared of? It could be humiliation, loss or hurting someone. Once you are aware of them you should develop thinking skills in order to understand your needs, expectations and concerns. You should be able to find ways of communicating your perspectives and needs assertively without anger. A lot of times we get angry as we lack communication skills required to express ourselves clearly. To begin with you should learn to stop yourself at the trigger and hold your response for a moment so that you can think and respond appropriately to the person or the situation that makes you angry. Further in the long term developing thoughts and attitudes about conflict resolution and problem solving as goals would go a long way in developing self control.
Anger management is about developing awareness and thinking skills that help you use your anger in a constructive way while not letting it make you helpless and powerless. It is also about understanding the range of emotions you feel when you are angry. This ranges from mild irritation to intense rage. Usually when we get angry frequently we cease to realise the difference in the feelings we experience hence making it easier to lose control. It also involves learning how to relax and developing calmness through relaxation techniques.
Being aware of the signs that show you might get angry:
- Pacing around frequently or moving a lot in a sitting position
- Trembling, shaking, fumbling
- Clenching your jaws or fist
- Raising voice
- Rubbing face
- Breathless/sweating/ palpitations
- Over indulgence in comfort food or alcohol
- Rudeness and lack of humour
- Tension in some muscles of your body like shoulder
- Feeling irritable
- Need to lash out at someone or hit someone
- Extreme sadness
- Stress and anxiety
- A lingering feeling of wanting to escape somewhere
Counselling will help you understand your triggers and plan how to take care of your anger. This plan would include aspects like avoid triggers, physically moving out of an angry space, cutting and changing conversations, relaxation, breathing and other techniques that helps you slow down and think of constructive expression. There would be lifestyle changes required in order to manage stress and develop self control which could be exercising, sleeping well, focusing on healthy eating, organising and prioritising activities, pursuing hobbies and finding creative satisfaction or building quality social connections in terms of family and friends.
Counselling will also help you alter the way you think and talk to yourself. Most of us when we get angry we use absolute words like always, never, must, should or ought. Being aware of this thinking errors and replacing them with more rational words like I wish, I hope. Managing anger will lead to happiness, emotional intelligence and tolerance towards life events. Feel free to ask me a question or book an appointment if your anger is often out of your control and affect different areas of your life like work, interests, relationships or health.