We’ve all experienced anger at some point in our lives. It’s a completely normal human emotion. However, when anger gets out of control or turns destructive to ourselves and the ones we love, it’s time to do something about our anger.
What is Anger?
Anger is an emotional state and can vary from feeling a bit annoyed to a full blown rage. It can be accompanied by physiological and biological changes in your body. For example your blood pressure can go up and your heart beat faster. It can feel as if your head is about to explode!
Anger can be caused by many things such as traffic jams, queues, holiday delays etc. or can be rooted within us by emotions other than anger.Anger can often be the tip of the iceberg, masking many other emotions within us, for example, sadness, loneliness, hurt, shame, grief, guilt, fear, insecurity, overwhelm, pain, frustration or helplessness.
Memories of traumatic events in your life can also trigger anger.
For me feelings of anger became persistent about a year after the death of my mum. I felt I coped okay at the time but a year later I felt angry and irritated constantly. I realised it was grief and I acknowledged this and put strategies in place to help me.
The Habit of Anger:
Expressing anger can be learned and in some families it can become a bad habit of expressing anger and aggression over and over again. It can become just the way you talk to each other.
So what can you do if your feelings of anger are interfering with your day to day life? The three main approaches used are expressing, suppressing and calming.
Expressing – expressing your angry feelings can be done by being assertive not aggressive. Assertiveness is not demanding what you want or need but having respect for your feelings and the other person’s feelings and listening to what they have to say.
Suppressing – Suppressing anger can be done by changing or redirecting your anger. This can be destructive as without expressing your feelings you take them inside yourself. Long term this can lead to health issues like high blood pressure or depression. Suppressing anger can also lead to unhelpful behaviours like passive aggression, where you hide the anger while getting back at people without expressing why. This can have long term negative effects on your relationships.
Calming – calming is all about calming outside and inside. Taking control of your feelings and letting the anger go.
The following are some examples of things that can help:
Take a step back and consider how important the issue is in the grand scale of things. As the saying goes ‘none of us are getting out of here alive’ so how important is the issue? Could you just let it go and move on to something more important?
Laugh it off –
Using humour is a great way of changing your state. Watch something funny on TV, speak to that friend that always makes you laugh or just laugh out loud. Do it now and see how it instantly changes how you feel. A technique I’ve personally used with a bullying boss was to imagine every time she spoke to me she had a Donald Duck voice. Instead of getting upset and angry when she was harassing me I sat calmly smiling at her voice.
Learn how to relax –
This for me was huge. Like many others I realise I’m always too busy. Learning breathing techniques and meditations can honestly change your mindset and your life. Practice them every day for only a few moments and then use them when you feel angry or anxious. They can make a big difference to how you cope with anger.
Communicate better –
Take time to become aware of how you communicate. Do you actively listen to the other person’s point of view or just bulldoze in with yours? Taking time to calmly express how you feel and hear what the other person feels can in many cases lead to compromise and understanding.
Me time –
We all need some me time. That can be having that relaxing massage, time to eat dinner calmly, time to read your book or time to go to the football. Whatever it is that makes you feel calmer, practice it and prioritise it.
Get help if you need it –
If anger is ruining your life do something about it. Try some of the above or reach out and get help.