Anger is a normal emotional response to a perceived threat or wrong.
It is ok to be angry. Anger is not wrong. What you do with your anger determines that.
Anger is not a bad emotion to feel, as it works as an indicator to let us know that something is wrong – emotionally or physically. Anger only becomes damaging when it’s held on to, expressed improperly, and acted on in unhealthy ways. What you do with your anger can impact the state of your relationships with others, work performance and health.
I often tell my clients that anger is like a headache – it is simply the surface issue. There is almost always something else lingering behind it. I call them common anger triggers, like: hurt, fear, stress, disappointment or anxiety. All of these emotional reactions originate in our thoughts. Therefore, events and people have no power to anger us – our thoughts about events/people do.
Threat is perceived
Frustration, annoyance, irritation set in
Negative thoughts manifest causing stress, anxiety and hurt
Here are a few strategies that you can use to manage your anger:
1. Use “I” statements. “I am making myself angry.” As mentioned above, anger is only activated when we create negative thoughts about an occurrence or person. Yes, you may be distressed by these factors, however, only you can dictate your reaction to them.
2. Recognize the feelings that precede your anger. Without knowledge of anger’s source you are more inclined to to hold on to and act on your anger in destructive ways.
3. Before expressing your anger use relaxation techniques like: deep breathing, positive self-talk or physical exercise to calm down. These techniques can be incorporated into your daily routine to reduce stress, foster a clear mind, and ease the onset of harmful anger responses.
4. Remember that people are not against you. Everyone experiences warranted anger that can become illogical if your views spiral out of control. Be sensible and realistic, most times – it’s not personal.
5. Use your anger to set you on a course of action that leads to problem solving. Much like a headache, anger remains until the underlying symptoms are addressed and resolved.
Written by Brianna Colbert, MA, LLPC.