Everyone knows what anger is for no one is free from this human emotion. Anger is not necessarily a bad thing as it motivates and pushes us to action. The emotion of anger not only saves us from potentially dangerous situations but also makes us improve our lives. Anger is like the red light on a car’s dashboard; it alerts us that something is wrong and in need of attention. Ignore it at your own peril.
We cannot completely eliminate situations and people who provoke anger in us so it is important to learn how to deal with it correctly. Our internal stability has a very important role to play in determining how we respond when we are provoked. There are people who explode and do great damage, which they often live to regret. This is normally because of being overwhelmed by a myriad of piled up issues ranging from frustrations, regrets, self-esteem issues, shame, and embarrassment.
Causes of Anger Management Issues
Upbringing plays a major role in shaping an individual’s responses to anger. There are families that are known to have anger issues. This could be partly due to genetics coupled with a faulty upbringing environment.
Parents who cannot handle their own anger usually end up dumping it on their helpless children. Their pent-up anger explodes on the children at the slightest provocation, causing fear, self-esteem issues, communication problems and a host of other emotional problems.
The children get very fearful about expressing their emotions, including anger. When they grow up and encounter situations that awaken emotions in them, their body responses get confused for they learned from a young age that expressing emotions is wrong.
Imbalanced religious teachings can cause anger management issues. When anger is portrayed as sin and acting composed in the face of provocation glorified, people can learn to put on a show rather than acknowledging that they have been wronged and they are angry.
Such people use a lot of effort to remain cool even when they do not feel that way. They fail to address anger and the issues that cause it. The anger simply accumulates and piles up; it does not go away.
Anger should not be ignored or denied as that is like covering up a wound without treating it. It will only get infected.
Consequences of Poorly Managed Anger
Mismanaged anger Hurts your Health
* Anger that is kept on the inside can cause high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, heart diseases, compromised immunity and mental health problems. Unhandled anger has led many to a premature grave.
Mismanaged anger hurts relationships
* It clouds your judgment making you a mind reader. You prejudge people without hearing them out, quickly jumping to conclusions. This destroys communication and strains relationships.
* Resentment, overgeneralizing, intolerance, stereotyping and seeing other people through the lenses of your own pain. “You always treat me this way. All women behave like that. All men are like that. All the people from such and such a place are like that.” It takes away the ability to judge issues rationally.
* Passive anger is hidden anger. It leads to behaviors that put others off such as making hurting and cutting remarks, putting others down, getting into unnecessary conflicts, inability to have empathy or rejoicing over other people’s pain and making jokes out of other people’s suffering.
* Intolerance: Your way is the only right way and everyone else is wrong. You go around being judgmental, correcting everyone and trying to show them that their way is wrong and yours is correct, and get angry when others don’t buy that point of view.
Buried anger also has a way of showing up without warning, sometimes in an embarrassing manner. Someone crosses your path and you explode in rage, releasing tonnes of anger that have piled up over the years. This plays a major role in road rage.
Mismanaged Anger Hurts Destroys Your Career
Out-of-control anger makes it difficult for you to engage in rational discussions and give balanced contributions. One gets emotional and upset when dealing with superiors and colleagues and their contributions are lost in the emotional outbursts.
Anger might explode when one is chairing a very important meeting or addressing an important audience. Someone touches a raw nerve and before you know it, you fly off the hook and verbally throw up all over the place. This leads to a ruined reputation and lost opportunities.
There are people who brag about how feared they are because no one dares cross their paths as their anger is legendary. There is nothing to be proud of if you have anger management issues. People might fear your wrath and avoid upsetting you but you will destroy many relationships and lose a lot of opportunities.
Do you have anger issues? Here are tips to help you manage your anger effectively.
1. Do not suppress your anger and pretend to be okay. Anger is an emotion like any other so it is normal to experience it. As much as possible deal with your anger privately, the way you handle your grooming. Acknowledge that you are angry. Face up to the situation that made you angry and address it. Somebody provoked you and you are justified to get angry.
Isolate the deed from the person as no one is all good or all bad. None of us is perfect so go ahead and make excuses for the person; “maybe he is going through a rough time and did not mean any harm”.
Look at the good that can come out of the incident. “Yes, he told me some hurting words but the message given was not all bad as there are some issues he raised that I need to work on.” Accept that other people cannot be like you as we are all different. Practice being more tolerant of others as you are not perfect either and need understanding from others too.
2. Getting angry too often is not good for you so avoid putting yourself in situations where you are likely to be provoked. Avoid toxic people if you can and minimize your dealings with them. And when you cannot help but deal with them, avoid being drawn into arguments.
If you have a boss or a close family member who has anger issues, learn to hold your peace when they explode. Avoid trying to explain things when the person is angry but wait till they have cooled down before attempting a conversation.
Learn what helps to keep you calm in the face of provocation. Maybe going through the words of your favorite song in your mind or reliving an experience that made you very happy works for you. Other people count one to ten when provoked. Meditation helps too; “inhale, exhale. Breathe in, breathe out.” Breathing deeply does help in releasing tension and calming an angry person.
3. Walk away from situations that show signs of getting out of hand. It is better to walk out in the middle of a heated discussion than to keep going, lose your cool and do something you will live to regret. Address the issue later when you are calm.
4. Being misunderstood or criticized is a major cause of anger. It is natural to become defensive and fight back when such things happen. It is possible to even lash out at the one(s) attacking you. Do everything possible to avoid getting into an exchange but rather listen and let the other party know that you have heard. Respond later when the circumstances are more conducive. Trying to reason with an angry person only adds fuel to the fire so don’t give in to the temptation.
5. Deal with your bigger anger issues. Many times the explosive reaction is not just about the here and now but about other issues you associate it with. Maybe when you were little you were bullied and a sarcastic remark directed at you has brought back those buried memories. Maybe something happened years ago that hurt you and something has just happened that has made you live through the pain all over again.
Deal with your pent-up issues no matter how old they are, so that you set yourself free. Face up to them and acknowledge that you were hurt when those things happened. Do not explain things away but deal with them so that you release them from your system.
Maybe your parents favored your sibling over you and every time someone says something that reminds you of the pain of growing up, you explode in bouts of anger. Maybe a friend betrayed you years ago and any time someone makes a statement that reminds you of that friend you lose your cool.
Probably someone’s tone has brought back memories of the way your mother or father used to talk to you when beating you up when you were little. Acknowledge the real cause of your anger, face up to it and make peace with it so that you are free.
6. Change the circumstances. If you are sitting down, stand up or take a walk. Take a few minutes away in a private place and stretch, massage the areas that are experiencing tension and engage in some brief but vigorous physical exercise. The increase in oxygen flow to the brain will improve your mood.
7. Change your routines and you will enjoy an overall better mood throughout the day. Wake up early so that you do not have to rush through the morning. Take some few minutes to practice deep breathing with the windows open. Incorporate physical exercise into your morning regime, even just 7 to 10 minutes of vigorous exercise.
Break the overnight fast by drinking water before you eat anything, to cleanse the body of the previous day’s toxins. Eat a healthy breakfast. Read or listen to something motivational to set your mood for the day, which you can do while commuting.
8. Work on your mindset so that you become a positive thinker. Nurture your mind daily by reading or listening to motivational material and filtering out negative thoughts. Train yourself to kick out negative thoughts whenever they creep into your mind. Kick out worry, fear, regrets, thoughts of revenge and any other negative thoughts as soon as they appear. Practice positive self-talk; “I am amazing. I am blessed. Life is good. I love my life. Today is going to be a great day.”
9. Take responsibility for your life. One major cause of anger is feeling like a victim. No matter what your situation is, there is always something you can do. Focus on possible solutions and reject the attitude that your life is the way it is because of someone else. You are the captain of your life so get into the driver’s seat and take charge. Expecting someone else to make your life better will keep you frustrated and predispose you to anger.
10. Learn to forgive. We all get wronged and those who wrong us do not always acknowledge what they did and neither do they always ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness is a journey and there is no rule about how long it takes to forgive so allow yourself to feel the pain when you are wronged, to grieve over your losses, accept what has happened and heal.
Cry behind closed doors if you have to and punch your pillow if you feel like doing so. Do not judge yourself for experiencing anger. Allow yourself to let go of the pain so that you can heal. Finding it in your heart to forgive those who have wronged you sets you free to live a happier and more fulfilled life.
Learning to manage your anger results in a better quality of life. It takes work to rise above anger but it is worth the effort. It is a journey and has its ups and downs. It does not just happen. You will be failing sometimes but don’t get discouraged. Forgive yourself when you fail and keep going.
If you feel that you are overwhelmed with anger, consider seeking professional help. A counselor or a psychologist can recommend therapies that will improve your quality of life. Seeking the help of a therapist is not a sign of weakness but a choice to take charge of your life.
This article is written by Susan Catherine Keter