When was the last time you felt truly angry? Chances are it was pretty recently with stats for National Anger Awareness Week 1-7th December suggesting that 1 in 4 of us worry about how angry we sometimes feel. Anger is a negative, high arousal emotion that can infiltrate every area of our lives, from our home life to our work and social lives. Left unchecked, anger can have extremely destructive and counterproductive consequences. Here’s how you can better manage your anger.
1. Know your choices
The restaurant has messed up your dinner booking, the kids have get felt tip pen all over your brand new sofa, your boss just asked you to work on your day off- again! There are many, many things that we experience during a single day that can make us feel angry. The useful thing to remember though is that you always have a choice in how you respond. Feeling anger can lead to harmful or vengeful behaviour where you shout and threaten all kinds of retribution on the restaurant/kids/boss, it could also lead to venting to a third party where you talk to someone else about how annoying the restaurants/kids/boss are. The most effective response though is constructive problem resolution where you attempt to communicate calmly to solve the issue.
2. Use your anger proactively
Anger is the ‘fight’ of the fight or flight response that spurs you into action. So when you feel angry, your body is primed to take present or future action, and this can encourage proactive behaviour as you’re motivated to change the status quo. So when you’re asked to work on your day off again, your anger is what encourages you to actually say something and stand up for yourself. The trick here though is to utilise the proactivity, but do it wisely and calmly.
3. Think, what is this anger really about?
Unlike other negative emotions like fear, anger comes from high certainty and high control. In other words, the reason you feel angry is because you feel that you are right (you told the kids not to take felt tips into the lounge) and because you feel it’s up to you to make the rules (you’re the parent). But, when you feel angry, take the time to ask yourself what the anger is really about, are you really right on this occasion or are you just trying to control the situation?
4. Don’t direct it internally
Another response to anger for some people can actually be withdrawal. They might be intensely angry that the restaurant has messed up their booking but turn this anger inward in an attempt to manage it. Studies have shown that directing anger inwards can actually lead to high levels of stress, and even depression, so instead of internalising anger take steps to deal with it constructively, like in talking to the restaurant about the missed booking, explaining why it has upset you (it’s for a special meal, you specifically rang back and confirmed) and asking for their assistance in remedying the situation.
5. Manage your anger
1 in 7 of us worry about our ability to manage anger effectively, but very few will actually seek help for it. So, be truly honest with yourself and ask whether your angry outburst are becoming more commonplace. Consider whether you feel that you always handle stressful events in the right way, ask yourself whether you would like to deal with anger more constructively. And if the answer is yes, seek help and learn techniques that will help you to better deal with this powerful emotion.