We all feel angry at times, and we all know angry people who are very hard to live with. Anger is generally not a comfortable emotion, but it is a normal, healthy emotion. We often get angry after we feel hurt or vulnerable. Anger gives us some power to strike back. When hurt or vulnerability becomes anger we don't feel as helpless. Anger helps us respond to threats. It allow us to lash out and to defend ourselves when we are attacked.
Anger becomes a problem when we act on the anger in ways that are destructive to others. While it is natural to strike out when we feel angry, this striking out involves a choice to act on the anger. There are several ways to manage problematic anger:
Relaxation Techniques - Calming down the autonomic nervous system can help calm down anger. Techniques to try include:
- Diaphragmatic Breathing is a quick relaxation technique
- Meditation - such as the Relaxation Response or mindfulness meditation
- Even counting to ten before acting can help you to respond with less aggression rather than simply reacting
Cognitive Techniques that help you change your beliefs and expectations can also help. When you're angry, your thinking can become exaggerated and extreme. Try replacing the extreme thoughts with more reasonable ones. Instead of thinking "This situation is awful, it's terrible" tell yourself, "it's frustrating, it's understandable that I'm upset about it, but I can choose how to act on my anger."
- Techniques like those used for depression and anxiety can help
Repressed anger can cause problems down the road, but that does not mean that it's good to simply express anger. A balanced approach that includes acknowledging anger and choosing how to act seems to work for many people. Anger can be a motivator helping you get things done, or it can become a problem, getting you in trouble. However angry you feel, remember that you can choose how you act on the feeling.
Last edited 3/18/2006