Anger is natural. We are hardwired for it (Remember “fight or flight?”). Its expression must not be turned inward1, but appropriately expressed.
“What is anger? Anger is a response to an unmet expectation”, says Bernard Golden, PhD, a psychologist and author of Overcoming Destructive Anger: Strategies That Work. “Maybe you expected your partner to consult you before buying something expensive. Behind all anger,” he says, “is a threat to some key desire, like wanting to trust your partner”.2
“Your response to anger is a habit that’s embedded in your brain”, Golden says. “But you can train your brain to respond to anger constructively. All of our habits are reflected in neuronal connections in our brain. If we develop new habits, we make the brain connections for that habit stronger, making it a more automatic response.”
Mayo clinic, 10 anger management tips.3
- Think before you speak
In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to say something you’ll later regret.
- Once you’re calm, express your anger
As soon as you’re thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but nonconfrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.
- Get some exercise
Physical activity can help reduce stress that can cause you to become angry. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run, or spend some time doing other enjoyable physical activities.
- Take a timeout
Timeouts aren’t just for kids. Give yourself short breaks during times of the day that tend to be stressful. A few moments of quiet time might help you feel better prepared to handle what’s ahead without getting irritated or angry.
- Identify possible solutions
Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand. Does your child’s messy room drive you crazy? Close the door. Is your partner late for dinner every night? Schedule meals later in the evening. Remind yourself that anger won’t fix anything and might only make it worse.
- Stick with ‘I’ statements
To avoid criticizing or placing blame — which might only increase tension — use “I” statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, “I’m upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes,” instead of, “You never do any housework.”
- Don’t hold a grudge
Forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. But if you can forgive someone who angered you, you might both learn from the situation. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to behave exactly as you want at all times.
- Use humor to release tension
Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Use humor to help you face what’s making you angry and, possibly, any unrealistic expectations you have for how things should go. Avoid sarcasm, though — it can hurt feelings and make things worse.
- Practice relaxation skills
When your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work. Practice deep-breathing exercises, imagine a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as, “Take it easy.” You might also listen to music, write in a journal or do a few yoga poses — whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.
- Know when to seek help
Learning to control anger is a challenge for everyone at times. Consider seeking help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or hurts those around you.
Anger management is a psycho-therapeutic program for anger prevention and control. It has been described as deploying anger successfully.4
This is where Counseling on Demand comes in. Acceptable anger expression takes supervision and lots of practice. We can provide that, in privacy.
We are online at CounselingonDemand.com
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- Anger Management http://buff.ly/29jgkdD
- Sonya Collins, Reviewed by Patricia A. Farrell, PhD, webmd.com/balance/features/good-mad-healthy-way-be-angry
- Schwarts, Gil. July 2006.Anger Management, July 2006 The Office Politic. Men’s Health magazine.