Anger gets a bad rap. Everyone gets angry. It is healthy to feel anger. The issue with anger is not having the emotion, but how you deal with it. Anger becomes a problem when it is not verbalized at all or when it is expressed in an abusive manner. Not expressing anger can lead to depression. Anger management is really about appropriate anger expression.
How do you typically deal with your anger?
- Take it out on someone else
- Take it out on yourself
- Run away
- Deal with the feeling directly
- Isolate yourself
The best way to deal with anger is to address it head on. Direct expression of anger allows you to get your needs met and not internalize unexpressed needs that may turn to anxiety or depression.
To develop anger management skills you first have to be able to identify when you are angry. It is helpful to notice what physical symptoms of anger you feel.
- Do you feel hot?
- Is your breathing shallow?
- Does your chest feel tight?
- Is your stomach upset?
If you can identify your anger when it first starts building it will be easier to express it in an appropriate manner. If you let your angry feelings go on for too long you may hit an breaking point that is hard to pull back from.
Some ways to deal with anger directly
- Admit you are angry
- Don’t judge your anger
- Address the problem directly
- Breathe deeply
- Leave the situation until you calm down
- Go for a walk
- Write in a journal
In order to effectively express your anger you need to understand why you are angry. Are you having a reaction because you haven’t met some of your own needs such as food or sleep? Are you reacting because another person didn’t meet one of your needs? First you need to identify what need was not met. Do you need to be talked to in a respectful manner? Do you need people to express appreciation when you do something? Whatever the need is you have to clearly communicate it to the other person.
In these situations when you want to communicate that one of your needs was not met it is good to use “I” statements in order to start a non-defensive conversation and ask for what you need.
“I” statements work as follows:
“I feel…. when you ………Can you please do……instead?”
An example is:
“I feel angry when you don’t put away your clothes after I have spent hours cleaning the house. Can you please put your clothes in the hamper instead of leaving them on the floor?”
Of course expressing your needs in a calm and neutral manner does not mean they will be met. However expressing them calmly versus holding them in or yelling will make it more probable that you will get what you want. As always we can only change our own behaviors, others may or may not change.