Anyone can be angry, that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time for the right reason and in the right way, this is not easy – Aristotle
Like many human feelings getting Angry is also a natural feeling. Most of us do not choose to be angry but get angry and many time without even our knowing till the feeling sets in. Anger brings lots of changes in us, in our feelings, expressions, our voice, our mood, and beyond one level on our blood pressure and often make us impulsive.
In this article we will examine the reasons for anger, the effects of anger and the anger management techniques.
What is Anger? Anger is an intense emotion you feel when something has gone wrong or someone has wronged you. Normally, it is characterized by feelings of stress, frustration, and irritation. All of us feel anger at some time or the other and it’s a perfectly normal to get angry. But it can become a problem when anger comes often, and it is uncontrollable and expressed in an aggressive manner.
When angry our body goes through certain biological and physiological changes. The biological changes we often experience include:
- Raised blood pressure
- Increase in body temperature
- Increased energy levels
- Spike in hormones like adrenaline and noradrenalin
How Anger gets manifested: Different people react in different manners when they are angry. Some outward characteristics through which anger gets manifested are:
- Raised voices
- Clenched fists and Jaw
- Physically trembling
- Rapid heartbeats
- Sweating excessively
Types of Anger
- Passive-Aggressive Anger: In this type of anger, a person tries to repress his anger to avoid dealing with it but typically ends up expressing it in unhealthy manner.
- Assertive Anger: In this type anger is handled in a controlled manner by using words to calmly explain and try to diffuse the situation. It is done in a non-aggressive and non-threatening manner.
- Aggressive Anger: This type of anger might be accompanied by physical or verbal aggression such as screaming or hitting things.
Why do we get anger?
Some of the main reasons for our getting anger are:
- Some people might have grown up thinking that it’s fine be angry and aggressive and hence didn’t learn how to understand and manage angry feelings.
- Some people are brought up to believe that one shouldn’t complain and might have been punished for expressing anger as a child. This will result in their developing a tendency to suppress their anger and it becomes a long-term problem.
- Some people might have witnessed parents’ or other adults’ uncontrolled anger as a child and learned to think of anger as something that is destructive and terrifying and scared of expressing their anger even in a healthy manner which may get manifested in some other manner.
- We get anger when we perceive that an injustice is done to us, we believe that we have been wronged or experience provocation that challenges our values or principles.
- Sometimes anger can be due to some circumstance happened previously like bullying, ill treatment and inability to express oneself against the same.
- Sometimes anger can be due to some stressful current situations like death in the family, disharmony in the family, break up, under performance in the job or losing a job.
- Many times we may get angry due to our increased expectations from others and when they fail to meet our unrealistic expectations.
Ill-affects of Anger:
- Uncontrolled Anger can affect our health adversely. As per the Harvard Mental Health Newsletter, people with normal BP but rate high for anger will be nearly 3 times likely to have a heart attack or needing bypass.
- Getting uncontrolled Anger and more specially the outbursts on others may make one feel guilty once they come back to normalcy and start feeling the negative affect of their outbursts.
- More often our Angry and aggressive behavior strains our relations with our friends and relatives and that is the heavy cost we often pay because of our anger. When anger turns into violence and consequences can be more severe.
- Extreme anger and aggressive behavior can have a negative effect on our spouse, children, junior colleagues and friends and we lose our respect.
- Frequent and uncontrolled anger will affect our focus, concentration and productivity at workplace and waste of lot of productive time.
What is Anger Management? Anger Management does not mean to not getting anger ever which will be unnatural. Anger Management is finding the way and means of channelizing anger and minimizing its negative effects.
Anger Management Techniques:
- Developing Empathy: One of the important techniques of Anger management is to develop empathy and see things from other’s point of view. Exhibiting empathy for others will make others appreciate the reasons causing us anger and make the required adjustments.
- Respond not react: Normally when we are angry, we try to react to the situation or anything said to us, and being in a bad mood our reactions are aggressive and hurtful and aggravate the situation more. Rather than reacting, it is better to take time to reflect on the situation and respond in due course of time in the most appropriate manner after calming down and regaining normalcy.
- Lowering expectations: Often anger gets triggered when there is a gap between our expectations from others and what we get from them. There may not be any wrong on the part of others except that we kept our expectations too high. Hence, adjusting our expectations to reasonable and realistic levels will go a long way in our being able to control our anger.
- Forgiving nature: Many times, anger results from the feeling of being wronged and nursing resentments and grudges towards others. Such anger causes a lot of harm to the person who holds such negative feelings for a long time. If we allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out our positive feelings, we might find ourselves swallowed up by our own bitterness or sense of injustice. We need to develop the habit of letting things go and forgive people more for our benefit of letting anger subside than benefitting others.
- Giving vent to our feelings: When someone makes us angry, it is always better to give vent to our feelings and let the others know that their acts, deeds, or behavior has made us angry. Bottling up our feelings will hurt us more than the others and will not let others know what issues they have which made you angry and deny them the opportunity to mend their ways. But we should make sure that while we give vent to our feelings, it should not be in an aggressive, sarcastic or hurtful manner.
- Taking time-out: The best way to control anger is to take time-out when we are flared up with anger. We tend to lose our cool and rational thinking when we are angry, and we should take time-out remove ourselves from such situation mentally and physically. We should come back after regaining normalcy and respond to the situation wisely and rationally. A few moments of quiet time might help you feel better prepared to handle what’s ahead without getting irritated or angry.
- Identify possible solutions: Instead of focusing on what made you angry, work on resolving the issue at hand. We should be conscious of the fact that certain things are simply out of your control. We should be realistic about what can and cannot be changed. Remind yourself that anger won’t fix anything and might only make it worse.
- Social Support: Confiding with family and friends can help in expressing our feelings and de-stress ourselves. If we do not have family members or friends, then we should look for a priest, family doctor or counselor.
- Acceptance: We should be conscious of the fact that others too have the right to their opinions and viewpoint. We should develop the ability to accept other viewpoints even if it is different from ours and what we expect from them. We should learn to ignore and overlook certain things, people, incidents, affairs and matters.
- Flexible nature: Being flexible is one of the important and effective tools of Anger management. Rigid and preconceived notions add up in spoiling the anger situation. Being flexible, adjustable, and accommodative can defuse any tense situation caused to anger. This will also result in others responding to you positively and iron out conflicting situations.
- Use humour to release pressure: Lightening up mood can help diffuse pressure and tension. Using humour will help open to face the situation which makes one angry and any unrealistic expectations one may have how things should go. One should avoid being sarcastic and critical. We should always remember Anger is a punishment we give to ourselves for the mistakes of others.
- Exercise and relaxing techniques: Some light physical activities can help in reducing stress that causes us angry. Neck and shoulder rolls are good examples of non-strenuous yoga-like movements that can help you control your body and harness your emotions. When you flare up with anger, follow some relaxing techniques like deep breathing and relaxing exercises, give some positive auto suggestions like `All is well’ and `Take it easy’ which will calm your nerves.
- Consent to make us angry: One should always remember that no one can make us angry without our consent. More than how a person behaves with us it is our response to his behavior that makes us angry.
- Changing ourselves: We cannot change others as easily as we can change ourselves. But when we are angry, we try to tell others their mistakes and their wrongdoings and expect them to change themselves and fall in line with your way of thinking. If we try to reason out if there was any mistake on our part, if we fell short of others’ expectation and in what way we can change ourselves to meet the expectation of others, it will be easier to diffuse the tense situations.
- On whom to show aner: We may get angry at many people but while giving vent to our feeling and the way we give vent to our feelings, we should always consider on whom to get angry. We should be very careful and cautious while getting angry or giving vent to our angry feelings on juniors and females in the office, family members, good friends and business partners. Never get angry with someone who has nothing to lose. When you know that the other person is stubborn and not inclined to change, it is better not to express our anger upon such person and steer away from such persons.
Can Anger be positive? Getting Angry may not be a positive sign or have a positive effect on anyone but the way one handles anger can turn it into a positive energy. The best way to convert anger into positive is not to hold it inside us but release it in an appropriate manner. For example, a colleague of yours may be in the habit of talking loudly in the office which causes disturbance to you and turns you angry. Instead of shouting at him in a fit of anger, sit down with him and explain to him how his talking loud disturbs you and others in the office and make you feel angry. This way of reaching out will be appreciated by your colleague because you value your relationship with him and thus you can turn your anger into a positive.
Conclusion: Chronic anger seldom has any good outcomes for the angry person. Experiencing uncontrolled anger can lead to chronic activation of the body’s stress response system and higher levels of destructive anger justification is linked to increased risk for coronary heart disease. Anger that is managed through destructive and aggressive means can lead to violence, bullying or abusive practices. Managing our anger is not easy, especially if we haven’t learnt the skills to express anger constructively. When anger becomes a problem, it can have serious repercussions for the angry individual and those around them. Communicating anger in constructive ways is healthy, can enhance relationships and helps avoid unnecessary conflicts or strained relations. Thankfully, most of us can develop our anger management skills. But if we fail to develop, we should not hesitate in getting professional help.
*The Contributor S. Prabhakar is a Fellow member of the Institute of the Company Secretaries of India, Chartered Secretary from the UK, Lawyer, and Registered Insolvency Professional.
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