Anger is a completely normal and usually a healthy emotion but, when it turns destructive, it can be a problem. In our daily life, we might come across situations that will make us angry. We must learn to manage the anger and not let the emotion control us.
How to manage anger:
The goal of anger management is not to never be angry but to express it in a healthier way. This will result in efficient communication, better conflict management, better relationships and is more likely to meet your needs.
1. Find the source of anger: If you find yourself constantly irritable and losing temper over inconsequential things, the trigger may not be the immediate incident. There may be underlying reasons. Identifying this can help us to deal with it. Try to find out the underlying frustrations. Anger may be to mask emotions like embarrassment, insecurity, hurt, shame, vulnerability or anxiety. Identify what you are anxious or scared about. It may also be a symptom of underlying health conditions like depression, trauma or chronic stress.
2. Identify the triggers: Analyse your routine and pattern. Identify circumstances that always make you angry – like a group of friends or traffic jam. Try to avoid them. If that is not advisable, try to deal with them. Being aware of the pattern gives you a head-start to deal with the issue.
3. Be aware of your anger warning signs: There are physical signs of anger in your body. Being aware of your personal sign will help you to manage your anger before it gets out of control. Some common physical signs are:
· Knots in your stomach
· Clenching your hands or jaw
· Feeling flushed or clammy
· Breathing faster
· Pacing or need to walk around
· Seeing red
· Having trouble concentrating
· Pounding heart
· Tensing your shoulders
Once you notice your warning signs, remove yourself from the situation or use calming techniques to cool yourself.
4. View things differently: Most of the times anger reactions are not due to what happened to you, but the way you interpret and think about the things that happened. There may be a negative thinking pattern. Common patterns include:
· Over generalising: Notice if you are thinking in absolutes like ‘NOBODY respects me’, ‘I am NEVER heard’ etc. Chances are that this is an over-generlisation of some instances.
· Having a rigid view: Having a fixed view of how things should be can cause disappointment when things don’t turn out in that manner. Let go of the “should” and “must.” Be open to the idea that things can be in more than one way.
· Assuming and making inferences: People often make assumption about what others are thinking and make conclusion based on these assumptions. This could be making conclusions like they ‘intentionally upset you’ or ‘intentionally disrespected you’. Remind yourself that everyone is not against you.
· Collecting straws: People sometimes let minor irritations build until the final straw and then explode over something relatively minor. Try not to let conflicts build, and resolve them timely.
· Blaming others: It may not always be others’ fault whenever things go wrong. Stop and introspect. Take responsibility. Finding fault with others everytime something goes wrong can cause unnecessary anger and conflicts. Remember that you cannot always be right and anything which is not done your way may not always be wrong.
5. Express anger in a healthy way: The instinctive way to deal with anger is to respond aggressively. Most of us have learned to express anger in this way only since childhood. We have heard that it is healthier to vent out our anger. That does not mean we have to do that aggressively. The better way is to express your emotions assertively without disrespecting the other person. For that, you have to learn to know what your needs are and how they can be met. Once you know that, it can be communicated in a firm and polite manner. This is more effective as the other party knows what you need. Always fight fair. While expressing, it is easy to put past mistakes into the argument. Focus on the present. The objective should be to solve the problem than to assign blame. If you cannot come to an agreement, agree to disagree. Be willing to forgive. Resolving a conflict is impossible if you are unwilling to forgive. If you feel the situation is spiraling out of control and your emotions are boiling over, withdraw from the scene and take time till you cool yourself.
6. Learn Techniques to cool yourself: Once you are aware of the warning signs and your triggers, use some techniques to keep your anger at bay. Some of them are:
· Focus on physical sensation of anger: Focusing on the physical signs lessens the emotional intensity of your anger. Notice where your body is tensed and the change in your breathing speed.
· Deep breaths: Take deep breaths from the abdomen. Fill as much air in the lungs as possible.
· Take a walk: Physical activity releases pent-up energy so you can approach the situation with a cooler head.
· Use your senses: Use your sense of sights, smell, touch taste and hearing to take your mind off. Listening to music, looking at old photos can help.
· Stretch or massage: Stretch your body. Massage the areas which are tensed.
· Count to ten: This gives time to the rational brain to catch up. If you are still feeling out of control, start counting again.
· Give yourself a reality check: When you are starting to feel angry, ask yourself these questions. Is it important in the grand scheme of things? Is my response appropriate to the situation? Is there anything I can do about it?
7. Long-term Measures: Taking care of your overall mental and physical health will improve your demeanor.
· Manage your stress: If you are constantly stressed, you will find it more difficult to control your temper. Manage your stress by meditation or some other means.
· Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can leave you irritated and short-tempered. Adequate sleep ensures good mental health.
· Exercise-regularly: It can burn off tension. Regular Exercise leaves you feeling more relaxed and positive.
· Be smart about alcohol and drugs: Alcohol and drugs lowers your inhibition and can make it even harder to control your anger. Even too much caffeine can make you irritable and prone to anger.
· Talk to someone: Talk to someone about your problems. They can provide you a new perspective of the issue and you can view the matter from a different point of view.
8. Recognise if you need professional help: If your anger cannot be controlled by you or if it is affecting your relationships and other important parts of your life, or if you are hurting other people you should start considering consulting a mental health professional to learn how to manage your anger.
Some useful links:
· Techniques to manage anger: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsVq5R_F6RA
· Music for anger relief: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T235jK9xR8Q
Manju Elsa Issac