At times it can feel impossible to deal with anger without ranting and raving. If we use our anger to frighten and intimidate others, we are in danger of both pushing them away and potentially damaging those relationships. If we want to change our behaviour, we need to understand what lies behind it. Here are some ways that can help you manage your anger:
Becoming Aware of Anger. The first thing to do is to learn to identify where and when you feel angry. Write it down. Is there a pattern? Are there consistent triggers? Can you begin to identify why you are so angry? Is anger masking other feelings such as embarrassment, hurt or shame? If you don’t know why you are getting angry, it’s very hard to learn to control your anger.
Learning to Relax. Notice what anger feels like: do you get a knot in your stomach, a headache or tense shoulders? Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and relaxing imagery can help with the physical symptoms of anger. Practicing these techniques when you are not feeling upset will help you to be able to use them in the heat of the moment.
Become Aware of your Thinking. When you start to feel yourself getting upset about something, take a moment to ask yourself, ‘Is getting angry or upset going to help?’ Or ‘Is this worth ruining my day over?’ If you can recognize when you’re not thinking logically about a situation, you can replace these thoughts with more rational ones.
Problem Solve. Sometimes our anger and frustration are caused by very real and inescapable problems in our lives. In these cases, use anger to find out ‘What is so wrong in my life that I feel furious, and what do I need to do to change the situation?’ By focusing on problem-solving during frustrating situations you can use anger constructively as motivation for positive change. However, it is important to recognize situations you can’t control or change. In those situations you may need to work on changing your perspective on the situation.
Communicate Effectively. The key to effective communication is good listening. Try listening to what is behind the anger or source of frustration. For example, if your partner is criticizing you for coming home late from a stressful day at work, instead of responding defensively try to understand the underlying message or hurt. Perhaps your partner is feeling neglected or unloved. If you can keep cool you can prevent the situation from escalating. When we are angry we tend to jump to conclusions, often the wrong ones. Slow down and think through your response.
Take a Break. If your anger seems to be building, remove yourself from the situation for a few minutes and do something else – take a brisk walk, listen to some music or try your relaxation techniques. Your chances of resolving the situation in a productive manner greatly increase when you can approach it without feeling full of rage.