Last update: October 10, 2015
Anger is a normal and healthy emotion, but when it gets out of our control, its consequences for our personal relationships, health or mood can be devastating.
Being aware of the reasons we are angry and learning how to manage certain methods to keep that explosive anger in check are key elements to have a more peaceful life and not run into negative consequences in the relationship with others.
Anger itself is neither a positive nor a negative emotion. It is normal to feel angry when you have been treated wrongly or unfairly. The problem is not the feeling, but the way we handle it. Anger becomes problematic when our reaction affects others.
The problem is that strong-tempered people usually need to express that anger and bring it out, and all of this will necessarily affect whoever is with them at the time. But it is possible to learn to express our emotions without necessarily being aggressive. Doing so will not only help you feel better, but it will also make you more likely to be able to solve your problems.
Mastering the art of managing anger takes practice, but with a little training you can do it. And the reward will be extraordinary! Learning to control anger and express it appropriately can help you build better relationships, achieve your goals, and lead a healthier, more fulfilling life.
How to manage anger
Step 1: Investigate the reasons behind the anger
If you feel that you are out of control, you need to understand why. Often the causes of anger go back to something we learned as children and that leads us to react as the people around us did, because we have assimilated that anger must be expressed in that way (screaming, breaking objects, punching the wall, banging doors, etc.). In this sense, traumatic events and high levels of stress can make you susceptible to anger.
There are usually other feelings behind anger as well. When you feel that it is dominating you, think about if you are really angry or if you are trying to cover up other feelings, such as shame,insecurity, pain or vulnerability.
As adults we can have a hard time recognizing feelings other than anger, especially if we grew up in environments where expressing our feelings was frowned upon.
Step 2: Be aware of the warning signs and factors that trigger your anger
Before you break out, there are sure to be warning signs occurring in your body. Anger is a normal physical response: being aware of the clues in your body that indicate something is wrong will allow you to take action before anger gets out of your control.
To do this, pay attention to the ways anger manifests itself in your body. They could be one or more of the following:
- Knot in the stomach
- Clench your hands or jaw
- Faster breathing
- Stimulus or need to walk
- Difficulty concentrating
- Shoulder tension
Step 3: Learn to "cool" anger
Once you have learned to recognize the warning signs that your anger is escalating and when you understand what triggers it, you can take quick action to deal with it before it gets out of your control.
Tips to cool down anger quickly:
- Focus on your physical sensations. Understanding how your body feels when you are angry decreases the emotional intensity of anger.
- Breathe deeply several times. Deep, slow breathing helps counter tension. The key is to breathe deeply while filling the abdomen with as much air as possible.
- Get moving. A walk or a run can help you release the accumulated energy to allow you to handle the situation colder.
- Use your senses. Take advantage of the relaxing power of your senses: listen to music, visualize a place to relax, etc.
- Stretch or massage the areas of tension. Move your shoulders, massage your scalp ... The secret is to relax the areas of the body where tension is concentrated.
- Count to ten. This technique aims to leave the rational area of our mind and free our feelings. If that's not enough, count again.
Step 4: Look for healthy ways to express anger
Most of the time it is essential to bring out the anger we have inside. The secret is to express our feelings in a healthy way. When we are able to communicate respectfully and channel anger adequately, this feeling can also become a great source of energy and propel us towards positive change.