Managing anger is challenging, especially when someone provokes us willfully.
We must understand that feeling angry is part of being human. Anger is a normal and healthy emotion that helps us detect and respond instinctively to threatening situations like being attacked, insulted, deceived or frustrated. Even so, uncontrolled anger turns destructive and lead to problems that take a toll on our health, our personal relationships at home, at work, between friends and acquaintances.
Uncontrolled anger could change the overall quality of our life and make us feel as though we are at the mercy of an unpredictable destructive power brimming within us. Anger becomes a problem when it harms us or others.
Charles Spielberger, Ph.D., a psychologist who specializes in the study of anger defines anger as “an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage.“
Anger, like other emotions, produces physiological and biological changes: our heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of our energy hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.
Adrenaline and noradrenaline are catecholamines that play major roles in regulating the ‘inner world’ of the body by the brain. Adrenaline is a key cause of responses to metabolic or global challenges to homeostasis, such as glucoprivation, and of manifestations of emotional distress. Noradrenaline (synonymous with norepinephrine), the main neurotransmitter of the sympathetic nervous system, is responsible for tonic and reflexive changes in cardiovascular tone. Both external and/or internal circumstances can cause anger. One could be angry with a coworker or supervisor or could be angry due to an inadvertent event such as being in the midst of a traffic jam, or confronted with a canceled flight, or one’s anger could be the result of brooding and worrying about one’s personal problems. Even remembering traumatic or aggravating events can trigger angry feelings too.
Some Myths About Anger
- Suppressing anger or ignoring it is unhealthy.
But venting anger is no better. Tirades and outbursts often worsen a situation than making it better.
- Showing an aggressive attitude and intimidating others when angry help us earn the respect of others and carry out what we want.
If we cannot control ourselves or are not ready to listen and understand opposing viewpoints, then no one would ever show us respect even though they might be afraid of us. Real power comes not by bullying others.
- Anger is an uncontrollable emotion.
We cannot always control the circumstances and the situation we have ourselves got into or how it makes us feel, but we can control the way we express our anger – without being oral or physically abusive. We always have the choice on how we should respond.
Some Dynamics of Anger
- We become more angry when we are stressed and body resources are down.
- We are rarely ever angry for the reasons we think.
- We are often angry when we didn’t get what we needed as a child.
- We often become angry when we see a trait in others we can’t stand in ourselves.
- Underneath many current angers are old disappointments, traumas, and triggers.
- Sometimes we get angry because we were hurt as a child.
- We get angry when a current event brings up an old unresolved situation from the past.
- We often feel strong emotion when a situation has a similar content, words or energy that we have felt before.
Source: Get Your Angries Out
10 Tips to Tame Our Temper
Anger management is all about becoming aware of our underlying feelings and the need to develop healthy ways to manage our emotions and physical actions when we are in rage. The staff of Mayo Clinic have compiled a set of 10 simple anger management tips to tame our temper:
No. 1: Take a timeout
Counting to 10 isn’t just for kids. Before reacting to a tense situation, take a few moments to breathe deeply and count to 10. Slowing down can help defuse your temper. If necessary, take a break from the person or situation until your frustration subsides a bit.
No. 2: Once you’re calm, express your anger
As soon as you’re thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but non-confrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.
No. 3: Get some exercise
Physical activity can offer an outlet for your emotions, especially if you’re about to erupt. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run, or spend some time doing other favorite physical activities. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that can leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out.
No. 4: Think before you speak
In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to say something you’ll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything — and allow others involved in the situation to do the same.
No. 5: Identify possible solutions
Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand. Does your child’s messy room drive you crazy? Close the door. Is your partner late for dinner every night? Schedule meals later in the evening — or agree to eat on your own a few times a week. Remind yourself that anger won’t fix anything, and might only make it worse.
No. 6: Stick with ‘I’ statements
To avoid criticizing or placing blame — which might only increase tension — use “I” statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, “I’m upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes,” instead of, “You never do any housework.”
No. 7: Don’t hold a grudge
Forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. But if you can forgive someone who angered you, you might both learn from the situation. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to behave exactly as you want.
No. 8: Use humor to release tension
Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Don’t use sarcasm, though — it can hurt feelings and make things worse.
No. 9: Practice relaxation skills
When your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work. Practice deep-breathing exercises, imagine a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as, “Take it easy.” You might also listen to music, write in a journal or do a few yoga poses — whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.
No. 10: Know when to seek help
Learning to control anger is a challenge for everyone at times. Consider seeking help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or hurts those around you. You might explore local anger management classes or anger management counseling. With professional help, you can:
- Learn what anger is
- Identify what triggers your anger
- Recognize signs that you’re becoming angry
- Learn to respond to frustration and anger in a controlled, healthy way
- Explore underlying feelings, such as sadness or depression
- Controlling anger before it controls you (apa.org)
- Anger management: 10 tips to tame your temper (mayoclinic.com)
- Anger Management – Tips and Techniques for Getting Anger Under Control (helpguide.org)
- How to control your anger (nhs.uk)
- The Couple Who Never Fought During Their 25 Years of Marriage (tvaraj.com)
- Her Grandmother’s Secret for a Long-lasting Marriage: Crochet Dolls (tvaraj.com)