What is anger management? Is it denying that you aren’t angry? Or is it an attempt at mitigating how you feel?
Consider this explanation of anger management by Mayo Clinic: “Anger management is the process of learning to recognize signs that you’re becoming angry and taking action to calm down and deal with the situation in a positive way. Anger management doesn’t try to keep you from feeling anger or encourage you to hold it in. Anger is a normal, healthy emotion when you know how to express it appropriately – anger management is about learning how to do this.”
It is simply learning to manage your anger. Acknowledging your feelings is a step closer to handling them. Anger management encompasses techniques which will help you cope with your resentful feelings. We all face bouts of uncontrollable anger at some point or at least we know someone who is short on temper. Eventually, anger ends up hurting someone, rather emotionally or physically. You must have heard about deaths which were a result of fits of anger. It is how damaging anger bursts can be!
In an attempt to tackle the angry feelings, we tend to ignore them and, when doing so, it only escalates the issue. We should accept our feelings and handle them. Here’s how you can manage your anger effectively!
1. Identify a Possible Outlet
We often focus on the source of our anger and forget that we need to deal with it.
Consider a hypothetical situation: your child’s erratic behavior pisses you off. What should you do? Dwell on your child’s behavior? No. You should think of something to keep your child occupied. You need to remain consciously aware that unchecked anger isn’t a solution. Instead, take deep breaths, maintain some self-discipline and figure out a rational solution.
2. Forgive and, possibly, Forget
Forgiving and letting go is probably one of the most peaceful gifts you can give to yourself. Holding onto resentful feelings and thoughts only make you more negative. When you forgive someone who has hurt you, you realize the truth that nobody but you are in control of your state of mind. Then, exhibiting tolerance would remind the offender of the importance of being true to ones word. Forgiving rather than forgetting seems the best and healthiest solution when you consider the frequency of mistrust and the nature of the offence(s).
3. Work on your Listening Skills
Often, we react before we listen and by listening, it doesn’t merely mean the sounds touching our eardrums but that we register and understand what is being said. It helps improve the communication between the two, resulting in trust. Development of trust eliminates the possibility of hostile thoughts and emotions. When you truly listen, you convey these three important messages:
1. Shows you care.
2. Makes it clear that they and their emotions matter to you.
3. Establishes and reinforces feelings of empathy.
Active listening opens the doors to understanding and, at times, it is all someone that is worked up requires.
4. Practice Relaxation
American Psychology Association (APA) says that relaxation techniques help calm down aggrieved feelings. Some of these specific practices are:
1. Deep breathing from the diaphragm. Deep chest breathing doesn’t really help with relaxation.
2. Repetition of reassuring words such as “take it easy”, “relax” and “I am in control” will sure help.
3. Using imagery of something pleasant can be really relaxing. It is almost like being in your happy place.
4. Non strenuous exercises, such as yoga and meditation, truly help relax the muscles while promoting composure.
5. Cognitive Restructuring
When a stressor is present, angry people tend to swear, curse or act unpredictably. So, any possible solution might render useless. Here, we need to change the way an angry person thinks or, in other words, cognitively restructure them.
Take this example: You are at a coffee shop and the customer in front of you is complaining to the cashier that his coffee is messed up. Now, according to cognitive restructuring, instead of thinking something like “it sucks”, you should think along the lines of “This situation is out of my control” or “I will remain calm, and they will eventually figure it out”
It works amazingly well because when we are angry, our thoughts processes are inevitably amplified. Therefore, attempting to rationalize our furious thoughts will carry favorable outcomes.
Anger is an inevitable emotion. We shouldn’t deny it but work towards managing it.