How to get rid of anger

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Robert Maurer

How to get rid of anger

Anger appears when something seems unfair, offensive, or unacceptable to us. Sometimes it prompts us to react violently. It pays to learn how to manage it to prevent it from taking control.

Last update: June 20, 2022

Most of the time we take out our anger on the people closest to us, who in turn are usually the ones we love the most. Unsurprisingly, partners, children, siblings, and friends receive all the emotional charge that comes with intense anger, although it doesn't depend on them. How to get rid of anger and avoid unpleasant situations?

Anger is a valid and absolutely necessary emotion, like any other. Its purpose is to help us set limits when we don't like something and ask for compensation for the damage caused.

However, as with other emotions, if we want it to play in our favor, we must learn to manage it intelligently.

Poor anger management can cause aggressive and violent behavior, causing unwanted harm.

Why and how do we feel anger?

Several factors can cause anger: feeling fear, frustration, helplessness, or thinking that you are being treated unfairly. In general, it is associated with events that we perceive as threatening because we believe they undermine our personal freedom and our moral values.

The intensity with which it occurs can vary. Sometimes it can be experienced as a moderate irritation, others as an explosive and uncontrollable fury. In the latter case, it can easily lead to aggression: insults, slammed doors, screams and even beatings.

When anger takes over, we run the risk of resorting to violence impulsively and involuntarily. At this point, it's common to say to yourself "I can't believe I yelled at him / her like that" or "I don't know what happened to me, I couldn't control my words".

It is common for extreme anger to be accompanied by physiological changes, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, redness of the skin, and muscle tension.

Basically, we transform into the Hulk, a fictional character who perfectly reflects how the accumulated anger leads to intense and uncontrolled reactions. Remember that their intensity is directly proportional to the levels of anger felt.

How to get rid of anger

Anger has several shades. In his book Emotional Intelligence (1995), Daniel Goleman mentions fourteen ways of experiencing it: acrimony, pain, animosity, anger, exasperation, annoyance, fury, hostility, indignation, irritability, pathological hatred, resentment, outrage and violence.

As we can see, it is a complex emotion that can take on different shades. It shows It is important to learn how to release it in a healthy wayotherwise it can harm mental health and relationships. In the following lines we explain how to do this.

1. Uncover beliefs under the rug of anger

Detecting the nature of our anger is the first step we must take to free ourselves from it.

It is important to consider what we have done in the past, what we do today and what we tend to behave when we are angry, but above all identify which beliefs keep it alive. 

Albert Ellis (2007) lists the four irrational ideas that lead most people to believe their anger.

  1. "It's terrible that there are people who treat me so unfairly."
  2. "I can't bear to be treated like this."
  3. "Under no circumstances should they behave like this to me."
  4. "They are evil people who don't deserve a good life and should be punished."

How can we see, they are extreme ideas that err on the side of excessive generalization. For example, a person who hurts or irritates is certainly an evil person. Are we really sure?

2. Dismantle the irrational beliefs that sustain anger

Through cognitive restructuring, we are able to detect dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs to replace them with more functional and adaptive ones.

In the words of Albert Ellis (2007), “we can radically change our ideas that promote anger”.

In turn, the guidance of a psychologist can be of great help in acquiring emotional management tools and regulating short temper, thus reducing impulsive reactions.

"This is how human beings are made: we behave according to our thoughts and we think according to our behaviors".

-Albert Ellis-

3. Gradual management to get rid of anger

Emotions are energy. If we accumulate them for too long without externalizing them, we will have an overload of energy within us.

It is understandable to try to suppress one's anger, because from childhood they tell us that expressing it is wrong. On top of that, anger doesn't have a good reputation from a cultural perspective.

The truth is that when something seems unfair to us, we feel frustrated, sooner or later the accumulated tension will explode. The longer we hold it inside, the stronger it will be ejected once we allow it.

It is therefore necessary to take over its management while we detect its escalation in intensity. If we channel it in time, it is easier to avoid violent reactions.

Learning to channel anger is essential to maintaining relationships with others.

4. Relaxation techniques to get rid of anger

When anger is already with us, it is time to counter it. In the throes of tension, we can resort to relaxation and breathing techniques, such as Jacobson's progressive muscle relaxation.

Likewise, all the techniques suggested by mindfulness are valuable in order to regulate our emotions. Playing sports, yoga or other forms of meditation, dancing, and singing can also help prevent outbursts of anger.

These are strategies that help us have more control over ourselves, allowing us to bring the mind and body to calmer and more serene states.

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