Anger is a normal emotion and it can be healthy. It lets you know that you find a situation upsetting, threatening or unfair. However, if your reaction is to explode, you risk putting yourself and those around you at harm.
Anger that goes unmanaged is far more likely to have a negative impact, especially outbursts in front of others. According to this Harvard Business Review article, anger can color your decision-making without you even being aware of it.
If you do not manage your anger, it can impact on your:
- Physical health (e.g., weakened immune system, insomnia, high blood pressure).
- Mental health (e.g., consumes your mental energy, clouds your thinking and takes the joy out of the simple things).
- Career and personal relationships by alienate people around you.
It's important to know what kick-starts your anger so you can take steps to address these triggers. Being aware that you have an anger problem is often the first step.
Examine your regular routine to see if certain activities, times, places, people or situations cause you to feel angry or irritable.
These could be, for example, the traffic on your daily commute, or standing in long, slow queues. By identifying your triggers, you can then look at ways to avoid these or see situations in a new light to avoid becoming angry.
Be aware that negative patterns of thought can trigger anger. Consider anger less from the aspect of external situations making you feel this way and more to do with how you interpret situations and events. This is the key to being able to change your negative thought patterns and resolve your anger.
Some common triggers that you can explore include:
- Overgeneralization and believing that someone or something is always this way.
- Obsessing over certain things that you think should or must happen and getting angry when they do nott turn out the way you see fit.
- Trying to mind-read and jumping to conclusions, making overly-quick judgments of people or situations and triggering your anger in this way.
- Lack of empathy.
When you identify the triggers and patterns of thought driving your anger, you can learn to adjust your thinking and adopt a calmer attitude.
Understanding your anger is key to self-management in situations when you start to feel out of control. With a little practice, you can train yourself to spot the warning signs of looming anger and deal with your emotions to keep them in check.
- Think before speaking.Try to slow yourself down and consider the best approach to take before your anger grabs control. Remember that a good outcome is possible by staying calm and thinking things through
- Calm down, then express your anger in a rational way by using controlled language. You'll find this is far more effective when delivering your message about your feelings
- Take time out. When you feel yourself boiling over, try to remove yourself from the situation, go for a walk, retire somewhere quiet and think things through
- Practice deep breathing exercises. Once your breathing is under control, you'll find your strong emotions will diminish. Focus on slow, deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Consider yoga or meditation techniques as methods of self-development.
According to OPPO, 35.13% of the world’s population has a smartphone. Therefore, self-management, with the help of smartphone apps, has gotten a lot more accessible. There are apps designed specifically to help develop mindfulness. There are also apps that help you keep track of triggers of anxiety and stress.
Frequent anger is likely to have a negative impact on close relationships.
If your own anger management techniques aren't proving to be effective, you can seek professional help from counselors such as anger management therapists at New Vision Psychology. A trained counsellor can recommend a range of techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation strategies, mindfulness, and acceptance and commitment therapy. As a rough guide, clients usually need between 6-10 sessions for anger management in order to achieve a successful outcome.