We all get angry. Anger is simply the emotion that manifests when someone behaves in a way that violates our expectations.
“Anger prepares us to fight and fear prepares us to flee.” ― Chip Heath
Anger is neither good nor bad, but what you choose to do with that anger can make a huge difference in your life.
Anger can be a trigger to motivate you to resolve a troubling situation. Getting angry with your spouse can force issues to the surface so you can find a solution.
Anger has led to the development of many charitable organizations. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, charity:water, and the first food banks cone to mind as examples. So anger isn’t always a bad thing. That extra energy and motivation can be put to good use.
But anger can also lead you to do something that creates an even greater challenge. It has the potential to create a tremendous amount of harm.
Learning new, more constructive ways to deal with your anger can improve your life tremendously.
The best way to handle your Anger
It all depends on how you deal with it now:
1. If you suppress anger, try to recognize when you’re suppressing angry feelings. Burying your anger can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, and passive-aggressive behavior.
-Venting your anger in private can help you feel a sense of control without harming anyone else. This should be considered a temporary solution, since you’re not addressing the situation that fueled your anger. You’re just defusing your anger so you don’t magnify the situation.
-The most important skill to develop is assertiveness. It’s challenging to express your feelings if that isn’t normal for you. Learn to let others know in a constructive way when they’ve upset you. Start with smaller things, and the bigger things will become easier.
2. If you dump your anger aggressively, challenge your unrealistic thinking. Aggressive behavior is commonly fueled by unrealistic expectations. People aren’t going to treat you fairly 100% of the time.
-Your children aren’t going to listen to you 100% of the time. Your spouse won’t always give you the attention you desire. Accept it and realize that you’re making assumptions when you have unrealistic expectations. The behavior of others isn’t always about you.
-Replace your unreasonable expectations with different thoughts. Seek alternate explanations for someone’s actions when you find yourself becoming angry. What are some other possible reasons for the situation at hand?
-Learn to pause and think before you act. If you’re a dumper, you’re probably like a bull in a china shop, wreaking havoc without any thought about what you’re doing. Count to ten, take a deep breath, and then speak carefully. There is nothing stronger than maintaining control over yourself.
You can often prevent situations that make you angry. Do what you can to avoid issues before they get started.
If there are people, places, or situations that seem to trigger angry feelings, attempt to minimize your exposure to those triggers.
Dealing with anger is a part of Life
Just because you might have learned unhealthy ways of dealing with your feelings of anger doesn’t preclude the possibility of learning new strategies.
If you’ve expressed your anger physically in the past, it would probably be a good idea to get professional help.
You certainly don’t want someone to get hurt because you couldn’t control your anger. Consider what could happen to you, too.
Practice these strategies, get the help you need, and move forward with your life. You’ll be glad you did.
photo: Porsche Brosseau/Flickr