Anger is a natural reaction to frustrating and/or painful events in our
lives. Most of us express our anger in harmless ways such as yelling,
crying, slamming doors and hanging up the telephone. After a while, the
anger goes away. When anger hangs on, though, it can make us enraged over
little things or be expressed through violent acts.
Excessive anger can make us sick, not only mentally, but physically. In
fact, millions of Americans experience the side effects of chronic anger in
the form of illnesses, drug and alcohol addiction, headaches, domestic
violence and depression just to name a few. Anger can also be a symptom of
depression. (See “Depression”.) Angry outbursts can prevent us
from having good relationships with others and feeling good about ourselves.
On the other hand, learning to manage our anger can enhance our emotional
well being and lead to a healthier, happier life.
Questions to Ask
||Don’t ignore anger. Express it in a healthy and appropriate way:
- Share your angry feelings with a person you trust and feel safe
with, such as a friend, spouse, teacher, etc.
- Get the anger “off your chest.” Do this calmly and without
violence or cruelty. Tell the person or persons you feel angry with how they
have upset you. You will likely start to feel better.
(Note: This is not
always possible. It may not be appropriate or could make things worse to
express anger to a boss or other authority figure especially if you can’t do
it calmly and rationally. Tell someone else, though, so you can
constructively diffuse your anger.)
||Be assertive. Express your wants, needs and feelings in ways that do
not offend others. Doing so can keep you from getting into situations in
which you feel taken advantage of and get angry as a result. Use “I” rather
than “you” statements. For example, say “I get angry when I feel put down by
your comments in front of our friends.” Don’t say, “You make me angry when
you put me down in front of our friends.” This allows you to take
responsibility for your feelings.
||Make a list of the situations in which you feel excessive anger.
This may include work, social and personal situations/relationships. See if
there are any patterns to your anger and if they can be changed.
||Channel the energy anger brings into doing something positive or
creative. Understand that we have more control over anger than we realize.
- Clean out drawers.
- Go to a driving range and practice your golf swing.
- Take a short walk or do other exercises.
- Paint, write poems, etc.
||Write out your anger, but keep it to yourself if expressing it out
loud could bring unwanted consequences.
||Distract yourself. If you’re stuck in traffic, for example, try to
accept the delay and recognize that it’s beyond your control. Instead of
clenching the steering wheel, play pleasant music on the radio or listen to
an interesting program. If you have a cassette or CD player in your car, buy
and play tapes or CDs that are soothing for such situations.
||To lessen anger outbursts, think of what will happen as a result of
||Find humor in situations that result in anger.
||Practice learning to lighten up.
||Use stress management techniques on a routine basis. (See “Stress -
||Think before acting or speaking. Try to understand your anger and
plan how you want to react or respond.
||Eat healthy foods. Eat at regular times.