There are many different triggers that may set off anger and everyone’s triggers are different. What angers one person may only mildly annoy another and vice versa. Following are some examples of situations in which many of us are likely to get angry:
- You or someone you love has been hurt - for example, someone criticizes you or your friend.
- You do not pass an exam or a class.
- Something has been taken away from you - perhaps a break up, the loss of a job or the death of a loved one.
- You are verbally put-down in front of others.
- Your belongings, position or property has been marred or destroyed.
- Someone cuts you off or drives erratically on the road or freeway.
- Your space has been violated. This could be someone sitting too close to you, or use of your things without permission.
- You feel that a serious injustice has been done.
Anger arises from deep in our brain, just like all of our basic emotions. It causes immediate physical changes: increased blood pressure and heart rate, dilated pupils, tense muscles, and sharper vision. These reactions occur because of the release of adrenaline, a hormone that gives us a sense of great tension and a feeling of wanting to take action. Such reactions allow us to be at our strongest and most forceful when we are in danger and need to “act”. Yet, because we have these same responses whether we are in danger or not, we need to be aware of them. We need to learn to identify and manage these reactions.
A successful expression of anger allows you to release the energy of your anger at a pace in which you feel comfortable. It also helps you to resolve the situation that created your anger, and it leaves you with a sense of calmness. There is obviously no one proper way to be angry. The way you manage your anger will be based on your individual personality. The most important priority to keep in mind in anger management is that the way you handle your anger should not be damaging to yourself or others.
Count To Ten - Pause and count to 10 or more when you are in the heat of anger and feel out of control. By forcing yourself to pause, you can break the momentum of anger and then be able to think about how you want to respond, rather than react from a strong and overwhelming physical and emotional state.
- Use Delaying Tactics - When someone you know has triggered your anger, you may not be thinking clearly at the moment and can feel out of control. Therefore, saying something such as, “ I feel very upset by what you just said, and I need to think about this and discuss it with you later” allows time to think about what has happened. It also allows the person who has triggered your anger to know that you are displeased and you do intend to discuss it. Just having the self-control to delay your expression will give you more self-confidence, relief and satisfaction.
- Spend the Energy - If the situation that you are in does not allow for discussion, now or later, but it leaves you bursting with anger, the fastest way to get relief is to physically release the energy. Vigorous physical activity whether hard work, or strenuous exercise, such as running, weight-lifting or aerobics can be an amazing way to release anger. Other more immediate outlets could be punching a pillow, throwing rocks at the ground or into a body of water, ripping up unimportant papers or whatever physical release you choose. Expending the energy can leave you with a general sense of relief and even calmness.
- Talk It Out - If the person with whom you are angry is someone you trust, and someone you believe could vent to you in the same way, it is very healthy to talk it out after you let them know that “ I am very angry” or “ I am furious”. Acknowledging and owning your feelings first before you talk it out helps to diffuse your anger a bit so that you can talk about what is bothering you.
- Journaling - Keeping a journal in which to write down your feelings can also be very therapeutic in processing your anger.
- Get Help - If you have tried time and time again to control your anger and you find that it is a continual struggle, counseling can be invaluable. A professional counselor can help you to devise long-term strategies for dealing with chronic anger. In addition, anger management classes can be quite helpful. There is help! Remember that you are not alone! Many people struggle with learning to deal with their anger. However, the time it takes to work on dealing with your anger in a healthy and productive way is well worth the investment. As you are able to deal with your anger productively, you will find that all aspects of your life will improve, such as your relationships, your health, and your job satisfaction.