Do You Struggle With Anger?

Many people assume that anger (a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility) is unhealthy when in fact it is another normal emotion that people from all walks of life experience. There are many injustices and offences in life that rightly cause anger in us, and it is that anger that fuels us to do something about it. However, it is when anger is harmful to others that it becomes a problem.

What makes you angry? Some things may upset, sadden, irritate or frustrate you, but they may not always anger you. People usually feel angry when they believe they have been violated, embarrassed, betrayed, let down, deceived or have suffered some other form of injustice. However, how much an action triggers someone's anger varies from person to person. Someone may become instantly angry if their family is insulted, while another may be able to shrug this off. A person who gets angry over interruptions may only be irritated when they are told off, while the opposite could be true of another. The first step to overcoming anger is being able to identify your triggers - to know what gets under your skin, and be ready to manage your emotions when it happens.

Unmanaged anger creates many problems - sometimes for you and frequently for others around you. People with poor anger management are more likely to have problems with personal relationships or work, verbal and physical fights and/or damaged property. They can also experience anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, mental illnesses and problems with alcohol or drugs. However, learning to manage anger can help to avoid these complications.

Here are some tips to help:

1) Make a list of things that trigger your anger. What sorts of things rile you?

2) Define what is at the root of your anger. Is it what they said, or what they implied in the way they were saying it? Was it the fact that you were interrupted, or that the person doesn’t respect how much you have to do? Is it that they repeated a mistake, or that they promised it would never happen again but didn't even try? Understanding what is really behind your anger will help you to deal with it.

3) Become aware of the warning signs in your body. When you're getting angry, does your heart beat faster? Do you get sweaty palms? Do you grit you teeth? Your body will let you know when you're heading towards an emotional outburst and listening to it can help you to avert acting out on your anger.

4) Find ways to deal with your anger healthily (i.e. in a way that doesn't hurt another or damage property). This may mean going for a walk, screaming into a pillow, talking with a friend, playing loud music, or anything else that helps to calm you down and relax.

5) Don't try and resolve a situation while you're still angry: take time out. If someone has upset you or you have been the victim of an injustice, wait until you have some control over your emotions before you go back and confront the issue, say something you regret or make an irrational decision.

6) Control your thinking. Anger can make us irrational, and we may start exaggerating the situation in our head. Learn to mentally calm yourself down and things are more likely to stay in perspective, which in turn makes them easier to resolve.

7) If you're angry with something someone has said or done, talk to them about it once your emotions have subsided. Not talking will only cause the problem to fester, while doing so can highlight a misunderstanding - the other person may not even realise they have upset you or that they need to do something differently. If you don't say something, you may find yourself becoming resentful and hostile towards the other person, which will only strain the relationship. Five minutes of communication could save months of frustration!

It is important to recognise now that you cannot control other people’s actions, behaviours and/or moods, and that you will only cause further aggravation to yourself and others by trying. The only thing you can control is your response to them, and by carefully curbing your anger you can avert disaster and strengthen your relationships.