Everyone has experienced anger. It is a very normal, generally healthy human emotion. It can stem from a variety of feelings from disappointment to frustration and range from minor irritation to towering rage. Suppressing anger is unhealthy, but letting get out of control can cause even more serious problems. Anger, like most negative emotions, is a survival function that is deeply ingrained into our beings and that makes it more difficult to control. These negative emotions are given priority in our brain due to the inherent “survival instinct” humans possess. What most people don’t understand is that emotions, particularly the negative kind, are contagious.
If you think about it, when someone acts petty, angry, or resentful towards you, they probably get a similar reaction from you, at least mentally. Unless you consciously make an effort not to, you will react in a way that is just as negative. This type of emotional pollution is detrimental to everyone involved and if their manner makes you angry, you are more likely to overreact. There are many ways in which you can manage anger successfully, but since no single way will work for everyone, you must find one that works for you.
In certain situations, you can simply walk away from your problem. A rude person in a store or a driver who cuts you off are both situations where you don’t even have to deal with the cause of your anger. It’s always tempting to retaliate, but in most cases it will only magnify the problem. If you choose not to react, their rude behavior can’t affect you. In many cases however, you must deal with whatever is making you angry and dealing with it properly can prevent small issues from becoming large ones.
Recognize the Cause of your Anger
Anger usually stems from some other emotion and defining that emotion can make it easier to deal with your anger. Understanding that you’re angry because someone treated you badly or hurt you can help you address the problem more rationally. Even if your anger is “justified”, succumbing to that emotion won’t help you solve the underlying problem, which should be your main goal.
Take a Step Back and Regroup
Expressing your feelings of anger is much healthier than suppressing them, but they should be expressed in an appropriate and productive way. Angry outbursts are often as detrimental to your health as keeping your anger inside. It can be stressful to the nervous system as well as to the cardiovascular system. Take a few minutes to yourself to calm down. Take deep, calming breaths and think about what you want to say. Trying to express yourself while you’re still angry only serves to escalate the problem. Understand that anger is your body’s way of preparing for a fight when what you really need to do is to solve the problem rationally. This is particularly true if a loved one is involved. After you’ve calmed down, rationally discuss the reasons for your anger.
Try to see things from the Perspective of Others
This is often one of the most difficult things to do. Put yourself in the other person’s position rather than demonizing them or assuming the worst. This is where taking a time out to regroup can help you manage your anger. If you spend your time trying to see things from their point of view rather than fuming and steaming over what was said or done. Don’t place blame somewhere else. It is difficult to be angry without blaming someone, but focusing on repairing the damage rather than who’s to blame can help you let go of your anger.
Managing your anger is a highly personal and individualized process. What works for one person may be a dismal failure for another. It takes conscious effort to control such a strong emotion, but with some practice, you can improve your outlook as well as your relationship with those around you. Self-control isn’t something we’re born with, it’s an acquired skill, but it is one that you can teach yourself with some perseverance.