Anger is another natural response to situations that we all feel at one time or another in our lives. Some people are more easily angered than others, and when they are, they may react by shouting, using bad language, hitting others, or breaking things. A healthier response is to learn how to control one’s anger and/or to express it in a productive, and not destructive, way.
When we become angry we feel a strong, sometimes overwhelming, sense of displeasure. This feeling may be directed at something or someone, and is often coupled with a strong desire to fight back. It is important to recognize which situations make you feel angry. This differs from person to person. Common provocations are being teased, being insulted, having one’s friends or family insulted, having to wait too long, having someone take something of yours without permission, being spoken about behind your back, or feeling jealous.
Since we are all different, we all react differently when we are provoked to anger. Some people are able to walk away and not allow it to affect them. Others react outwardly, either verbally by shouting or swearing, or physically by hitting others or breaking things. Some people react inwardly by refusing to talk, “the silent treatment”, or by trying to control their anger.
Allowing your anger to get out of control can make a conflict situation much worse, so it is very important to learn how to handle your responses when provoked. Bottling up your feelings of anger is not healthy either. It creates pent-up emotions that can eventually explode at a later stage and cause a lot of hurt and damage, or it make you anxious and irritable, affecting your personality in a significant way. The best response is to be able to express your feelings, and even negative emotions, in a healthy way.
Some simple techniques for controlling anger are:
- Tearing or crumpling scrap paper.
- Do something physical like playing basketball, go for a run, play guitar, drum, etc
- Close your eyes, focus on deep breathing and think of a calm and happy situation.
- Repeat a personal self-statement that you have rehearsed like, “I am calm and in control”
If you find that there are certain situations that repeatedly lead you to lose control and become angry, try role playing these before they actually happen, and in your mind you must act in the way that you would really like yourself to, staying calm and in control.
Some simple techniques that you can use if you find yourself already in a potentially provocative situation, and unprepared for it, are:
- Breathe deeply and count slowly to yourself.
- Keep listening to the other person while focusing on your deep breathing at the same time, but do not respond or provoke them in any way if possible.
- Look the other person in the eye. This allows you to feel in control and not become intimidated by them. It also lets them know that you are unafraid.
Try to “step out” of the situation by imagining yourself looking at it as an observer, and ask yourself, “Is this really worth getting angry about?” You may find that you still feel it is. In that case, ask yourself if there is a healthier way you can express your feelings or your needs. There usually is!