Do you fume when someone cuts you off in traffic? Does your blood pressure rocket when your child refuses to cooperate?
Anger is a strong negative emotion that arises as a result of what we perceive to be a threat or unfair treatment that blocks our goals. It’s normal to feel angry at times and historical records suggest that it is usual to get at least mildly angry a few times per day to a few times per week. However, over-expressing anger or suppressing it can be damaging to relationships and health.
What triggers anger?
Research suggests that an attitude of hostility, resentment, and suspiciousness may be related to increased anger. Other reasons that lead to anger include imagining a situation to be as bad as it can possibly be and low frustration tolerance.
Another study among women found that anger was most often triggered by violations of personal values, feelings of powerlessness, and disrespectful treatment. The researchers suggested that women often feel anger when they want something to change, but are unable to make it so or even get people to listen to them.
Anger is generally expressed in two ways – Anger In and Anger Out.
Anger in is the method suppressing anger. Some people, even if they are fuming from being irritated, they don’t respond with anger. But anger suppression can have negative consequences as it is related to increased hypertension.
Anger out is similar to that cartoon character with a bright red face and steam shooting out of its ears. This type of anger is expressed outwardly and can lead to challenges in personal relationships and at work.
So how do we manage it?
Many negative emotions (like sadness, shame, or fear) make us want to run and hide. But not anger. Anger makes us want to approach, to fight or confront our enemies. That makes anger a unique negative emotion. It’s important that we manage it so that we don’t over-express our anger, but we also have to be careful not to suppress our anger, as that can be bad for us too. Anger appears to be most beneficial when managed and expressed in a controlled, positive manner.
Techniques for Managing Anger
1. Keep an anger journal
Journaling may help you better understand where your anger comes from and the thought processes that spiral it out of control. So, in your journal, try to explore what it is exactly that is triggering your anger. What thoughts are you having? What emotions are you having? What could you do to resolve your anger?
2. Manage angry thoughts
Try reframing your anger in ways that help you change the things that are bothering you.
3. Speak up for yourself
Practice being assertive, negotiating for yourself, and setting boundaries to reduce feelings of powerlessness.
Anger can be an intense emotion, but it can also be managed with these simple changes in life.