As a counsellor I worked with a number of clients who came with anger management issues, and the first few sessions were usually spent trying to discover the underlying reasons for their rage. For example, feeling powerless is a very strong emotion and the feeling that we have been treated unfairly and we can’t do anything about it, can make us very angry. So is feeling threatened or cornered in some way, or feeling aggrieved with those around us who don’t respect our feelings, words, thoughts or motives.
Let’s just clarify, it is OK to get angry. It’s a normal human emotion. If we never ever got cross, we would not be human. But it’s important to deal with it in a positive way, because anger can take a major toll on both health and relationships. Dealing with it, directing it and controlling it positively, is the key.
Here are some tips I have picked up over the years for dealing with anger.
- Delay Your Reponse. Taking a few minutes to think before you blow up is really important. Take a deep breath and count to ten. When you are back in control and feeling more calm, try and articulate what made you angry. Use “I feel” rather than “You did” sentences where you can. Delay the response as long as possible. Each extra minute will give a little more clarity and clear headed thinking.
- Talk to someone about your feelings when you are NOT angry. Try and think about the reasons you got angry and why, but also think about the reason for your underlying anger. For example, screaming at the car because it won’t start, your friend because she has cancelled a date with you and your boss because she has asked you to undertake some extra work, may be a symptom but not the cause of your anger.
- Try meditation and relaxation exercises. Practice deep-breathing, or come up with a simple mantra to calm yourself down. Yoga particularly, is said to be very beneficial for anger.
- Consider how important this event (that has made you so cross) will be in a years time. Is it important to waste so much energy on something that will be forgotten in a few days?
- Choose your battles. There are some things worth having an argument about, and others that are definitely not. Don’t waste time arguing about trivialities.
- Try not to fall into the trap of dragging up past events when arguing. Focus on the here and now.
- Put yourself in the other persons shoes if you can. Consider their point of view. Is it reasonable, do they possibly have a point?
- Be willing to back down and think about possible solutions rather than simply getting one over on the person with whom you are arguing.
- Be genuine in trying to find a solution. Compromise is hard when you feel very aggrieved, but let go of that short term need to hurt/punish and think about the bigger picture. Life is too short to hold grudges.
Anger can take over lives, especially when it starts causing issues in relationships or at work. Remember that anger is simply an outlet for what is going on inside. Find out what that is ….and things can change dramatically. Anger is very individual and it is very treatable, so please seek out a therapist or an anger management group if you need help. Confronting your anger and the reasons behind it, may be one of the most liberating things that you can do for yourself in your lifetime.