YOUR ANGER MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
Anger is a well-developed coping mechanism that we turn to when our goals are frustrated, or when we feel threat to ourselves or to people, things and ideas we care about. It helps us react quickly and decisively in situations where there is no time for a careful, reasoned analysis of the situation. And it can motivate us to solve problems, achieve our goals, and remove threats. Acting in anger can serve, therefore, to protect yourself or others. A positive response and constructive outcome can improve your self-esteem and self-confidence.
Is it always bad to feel angry? Anger is a natural response to feeling attacked, injured or violated. It’s part of being human; it’s energy seeking expression. Our anger can be our friend. It helps us survive, giving us the strength to fight back or run away when attacked or faced with injustice. In itself, it’s neither good nor bad, but it can be frightening. Angry feelings can lead to the destructive and violent and violent behavior, and so we tend to be frightened of anger. The way we are brought up, and our cultural background, will very much influence how we feel about expressing anger.
You may have been punished for expressing it when you were small, or you may have witnessed your parents’ or other adults’ anger when it was out of control, destructive and terrifying. Or you may have been frightened by the strength of your own bad temper. All of this encourages you to suppress your anger. When something makes you angry, you feel excitement in your body and emotions. Your glands are pumping your blood full of the hormone adrenaline, preparing for fight or flight. You are full of energy, alert, ready for action. Tension builds up, but is released when you express your anger. The release is good for you, helping to keep body and mind in balance and able to face life’s challenges.
One of a good techniques is a cognitive restructuring. Simply put, this means changing the way you think. Angry people tend to curse, swear, or speak in highly colorful terms that reflect their inner thoughts. When you’re angry, your thinking can get much exaggerated and overly dramatic. Try replacing these thoughts with more rational ones. For instance, instead of telling yourself, “oh, it’s awful, it’s terrible, everything’s ruined,” tell yourself, “it’s frustrating, and it’s understandable that I’m upset about it, but it’s not the end of the world and getting angry is not going to fix it anyhow.”
Be careful of words like “never” or “always” when talking about yourself or someone else. “This !&*%@ machine never works,” or “you’re always forgetting things” are not just inaccurate, they also serve to make you feel that your anger is justified and that there’s no way to solve the problem. They also alienate and humiliate people who might otherwise be willing to work with you on a solution. Remind yourself that getting angry is not going to fix anything that it won’t make you feel better (and may actually make you feel worse).
Logic defeats anger, because anger, even when it’s justified, can quickly become irrational. So use cold hard logic on yourself. Remind yourself that the world is “not out to get you,” you’re just experiencing some of the rough spots of daily life. Do this each time you feel anger getting the best of you, and it’ll help you get a more balanced perspective. Angry people tend to demand things: fairness, appreciation, agreement, willingness to do things their way. Everyone wants these things, and we are all hurt and disappointed when we don’t get them, but angry people demand them, and when their demands aren’t met, their disappointment becomes anger. As part of their cognitive restructuring, angry people need to become aware of their demanding nature and translate their expectations into desires. In other words, saying, “I would like” something is healthier than saying, “I demand” or “I must have” something. When you’re unable to get what you want, you will experience the normal reactions—frustration, disappointment, hurt—but not anger. Some angry people use this anger as a way to avoid feeling hurt, but that doesn’t mean the hurt goes away.