Anger Management 101
Many of us are presented with challenges that make us feel angry and we don't know what to do about it. You may find yourself pretending that everything's fine when inside you are boiling. Or maybe your anger explodes out of you, and find yourself screaming at or hurting those close to you.
Anger is a normal, human emotion. We feel appropriate anger in a range of situations: when we are cut off in traffic, if our mother criticizes us, when the boss is disrespectful towards us. For the most part, anger is a self-protective emotion that acts as a red flag to warn that something that feels bad is happening to us. Anger can be a useful emotion that can be a signal to take charge, make a change, or protect ourselves in a given situation.
Here are six healthy ways to deal with anger:
1. Don't swallow it
You'll only blow up at a later date. Take action to correct the situation immediately when you feel annoyed, so that your anger doesn't build over time. Speak to the waiter if you are unhappy with your food. Have a conversation with your spouse if he or she doesn't follow through on a promise.
2. Avoid criticism
When you do speak up, use "I" messages rather than attacking or criticizing the other person. Try "I feel frustrated when you tell me you are going to do something and then don't follow through" instead of "You're so lazy. You never do anything around here."
3. Don't "vent"
You may walk away feeling better, but the person you vented on sure doesn't. Find another way to release your anger: Write in your journal, or write an angry letter that you don't plan to send to achieve that feeling of release.
4. Be proactive
Don't expect others to read your mind or know what you want to have happen in a given situation. Speak up for yourself. Practise being honest with yourself and others about what you want and need on a daily basis.
5. Learn from it
Use the energy that you get from your anger to get strategic. This is particularly true in the workplace. Think carefully before you express anger to a boss or coworker. It's often more effective to use your anger to spur you on to make strategic change than to try to talk about your feelings in a professional setting.
6. Dig a little deeper
Spend some quiet, mindful time writing or thinking about what other feelings might be underlying your anger. Sometimes we express anger - a safe, protective emotion - when what we actually feel is hurt or disappointment. Try to access and express those deeper feelings and you won't find yourself lashing out in anger as much.
If you feel you need some help with your anger, find a therapist you feel comfortable talking to.