Even if you haven’t seen the recent Pixar classic, Inside Out, you probably know that anger doesn’t have the best reputation. Lewis Black ranting at the top of his lungs is perfect type-casting. But like all of our emotions, anger can be a normal and healthy outlet. The problem is that for some, this can be a challenging emotion to contain. When anger spirals out of control, it has the power to adversely affect every aspect of our lives. The goal of anger management is to reduce the emotional impact and the physiological sensations that accompany anger at its strongest.
Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. A person could be angry at a friend or colleague, for instance, over a perceived wrongdoing. And they could just as easily be angry at an unforeseen circumstance like a traffic jam or a cancelled flight. On the outside, this might look like rage. But on the inside, anger can manifest itself physically with symptoms that include an increased heart rate, along with rising blood pressure and adrenaline. These physical affects can often feel both instantaneous and scary in their intensity.
Almost everyone has probably had a brief moment of road rage or a day of irritability. But for those whose anger has become a baseline for their personality, there are likely deeper reasons to explore. In recent decades, psychological research has shown that anger is often an attempt to hide other emotions, whether it be guilt, embarrassment, fear or humiliation. Anger is not only a potential defense mechanism but it can be also be a dangerous diversion from sources of even deeper pain.
Anger at its worst can be totally destructive. It can ruin relationships and it can cause irrational thinking that leads to unintended consequences. But anger can be controlled and with hard work, it can be managed effectively. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with anger management, consider the following suggestions as tips that could lead to a more positive perspective.
- Stop and take a deep breath
- Before you say or do something you might regret, try to relax in the moment.
- Find another way to express your anger
- It’s important to find a release for your anger that isn’t detrimental to yourself or those around you. Write down your thoughts instead of yelling them at someone.
- Don’t dwell on it
- Move on from whatever is bothering you. Whether its justified or not, life is too short for grudges and anger that festers is both unhealthy and unproductive.
- Stay active and exercise
- Anger requires a lot of energy. If you can redirect your adrenaline, it will save your temper a lot of time.
- Dig deep
- Once you’ve calmed down, take the opportunity to explore what factors could be contributing to your angry state-of-mind
For anyone that suffers from chronic anger, the advice above will likely seem easier said than done. And they’re right. Controlling your anger is hard and challenging work that can require a lot of introspection. But the effort to manage your anger will not only save you a lot of trouble and heartache, it will also lead to a healthier mindset with a more positive perspective on your life and loved ones.