|Anger is an emotion or a feeling that can either move mountains when channeled properly or create havoc when left unattended. Anger is not always bad; it is not always a negative emotion as widely believed. Healthy and just anger can help you stand up for someone or for a worthy cause.
However, when anger turns to uncontrolled rage and subsequent aggression, causing you to yell at someone, harm yourself or others, or damage property; that’s when you know you have a problem!
And this problem, like all others, needs a solution!
So, control your rage before it consumes you! Own your situation, your circumstances and the feelings they evoke before they begin to own you!
Please note: This guest article does not contain healthcare or therapeutic advice. If you are concerned about your health or well-being, speak with a health professional or visit your nearest medical facility in an emergency.
How to Manage Your Anger the Healthy Way
Anger management is about unlearning your unhealthy coping mechanisms and re-learning the healthy ones! Effective and healthy coping skills will enable you to fathom what’s behind your anger, understands how your mind and body reacts to it and then teach you to channelize it in a most effective manner.
Why should I rip my anger at its bud?
Anger is contagious.
Let’s imagine a scenario:
You are enjoying a leisure time with your family at a beautiful park when you see a group of teenagers having some sort of a celebration; with blaring music, crazy face paint and silly dancing. You begin to see red. You feel your pulse quickening and the blood pressure rising.
To top it all, one of the teenagers approaches your family and asks your teenage son if he wants to join them.
What happens next?
Are you filled with rage?
Do you lash out at him in an explosive outburst of anger?
Or do you lash out on your wife and children for the irresponsible behavior of those teenagers?
Does it end there?
No, the cycle continues!
You pick up your stuff and storm out of the park. In your rage you pick at your wife for not being enough careful with the kids. The teenaged son is in turn enraged and embarrassed by his father’s unreasonable behavior. They reach home. The wife calls the plumber and lashes out at him for not respecting their appointment. The son gives cold treatment to the dog who is puzzled with his favorite human’s behavior....and the saga continues.
Related: Manage Your Mind Through the Chaos
Effective ways to manage your anger.
1. Identify your triggering factors.
What triggers your anger response? Long lines? traffic jams? Insubordination? Feelings of envy? snarky comments? or plain unfulfilled needs?
Once you feel your anger rising, make no attempt to internalize it or to suppress it. Suppressed anger will one day lead to disruptive outbursts. A balloon when blown beyond its capacity is bound to burst; and so, will you, when you internalize your anger for too long.
Anger that is internalized for too long; not just causes unnecessary mental turmoil; but also leads to illnesses such as chronic headaches and migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, pains and aches that are further exacerbated by tension. Some people may also develop increased blood pressure or diseases of the heart as evidenced by a systematic review and meta-analysis published in a European Heart Journal (European Society of Cardiology, 2014).
Therefore, do not suppress it, just channelize it!
When triggered to anger and rage:
a) Stop and count numbers 1 to 10
b) Divert your attention to something less stressful or someone uninvolved.
Several activities help redirect your emotions in times of anger. People have often found success with music, taking a relaxing shower, journaling, drawing, or jogging.
2. Take a time out.
When a simple discussion or conversation starts getting heated, take a time out. Words once uttered in a fit of rage are like shattered glass; even if you repair it, cracks will always surface. Take a break. Take a walk. Or simply wash your face with cold water.
3. Respond constructively.
If you get angry at your workplace, explain to your peers that you are not trying to escape the conversation. Be open and frank if it helps others understand. Saying you are working on controlling your rage is better than blurting out something that you will regret later. Offer to have the discussion later when you feel calm.
Avoid harsh, sarcastic humor, and insulting remarks.
Keep track of your vulnerable time. Do you feel more stressed, tired and angry in the evenings? Reschedule your important meetings. Plan for more sensitive meetings in the mornings when everyone is fresh and well rested.
Agree to disagree respectfully!
4. Stop the blame game.
How often have we heard people say, “If it weren’t for you, this wouldn’t have happened” or “He is responsible for all of my misery”.
Why do we think that others should be held responsible for our emotions or actions? True anger management is possible when we take responsibility for our feelings or emotions. There are times when we plant our own lemons and complain when they leave a sour taste in our mouth.
5. Address your primary emotions.
Often anger or rage is just a secondary emotion. Find the primary deep-rooted causes within and learn to address them. These causes could be insecurity, vulnerability, feelings of shame, self-doubt, loneliness, or abandonment.
6. Address irrational thought processes.
Stop expecting that others need to change. You cannot control how others talk, think or behave. Neither can you shorten the waiting lines or make the signal go green. Practice compassion, empathy and attentiveness. Be forgiving, not because the other person deserves it, but because you deserve your peace. Place yourself in someone else's shoes and learn their perspective, beliefs, attitudes, intentions, desires, etc. while simultaneously acknowledging that your mental peace and calm deserves a lot better.
Imagine the previous scenario with the teenagers. You are livid with rage. You walk towards them to confront them. You then take time to look at the hidden agony in their expressions, and a teen comes forward to tell you his brother has just received a terminal diagnosis. They planned this fun gathering to help cheer him.
Are you still angry?
Will you justify your cause and continue to yell at them or report them?
Probably not! Therefore, let go of your grudge, as anger usually feeds upon anger.
Only when you put yourself in your opponent’s shoes for even a few seconds, you will realize the futility of your rage. Rage eats you up inside. Compassion and forgiveness set you free. Even if the other person is on the wrong; practice forgiveness.
Be forgiving, not because the other person deserves it, but because you deserve your peace.
Physical activity is a great way to use up excess adrenaline. No matter what your activity level; there is always an exercise regimen that fits every body types. Be it dancing, skipping, jogging, strength training or cardio, a regular exercise regimen can provide a useful outlet for confrontational feelings.
In addition, lighter exercises like yoga, deep breathing, mindfulness and meditation can help shift the mind away from anger during triggering situations, and bring peace within.
8. Use distraction.
Redirect your thoughts and feelings. Find simple chores to do that will help you vent and re-channel your energy, like playing with the kids, doing laundry or scrubbing your bathroom clean. If that doesn’t work, go for more aggressive but harmless activities like crushing ice cubes with your fists, punching or screaming over a pillow, or playing loud music.
9. Seek professional help.
Not everyone in a fit of rage needs a therapist. However, it is good to know when to seek one.
Look for the following signs:
Many people, especially those who suffer from various mental illnesses or addiction issues would greatly benefit by consulting with a clinician or a therapist for treating the emotional and psychological underpinnings that trigger and exacerbate outbursts of anger.
In conclusion, anger can help or hurt you, depending on how you choose to react to it. If used constructively and for a just cause; it could invoke change and positivity and bring down injustice. Constructive anger and its proper management will also enable you to help you handle emergencies, solve problems, and hold on to meaningful relationships.
As the old legend goes, there are two wolves at battle inside each of us; the good one who brings joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith and the evil one who causes envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. Ultimately, the one you feed will be the one who wins inside of you!
Ref: European Society of Cardiology
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