Manage Your Anger, Take Control of Your Life

If any of the questions below are true for you, you may have an anger issue.

  • Continual feelings of irritability, and negative judgment towards others?
  • Overreacting to certain small stressful events?
  • Often make inappropriate sarcastic remarks about others?

Anger in general is one of the universal human feelings. In fact, a certain amount of anger is healthy, and it is necessary for self protection. However, some people's anger is too close to the surface, and the smallest amount of discomfort may provoke angry outbursts from them. This is a sign that anger has physically and emotionally dominated the person in way that may lead to verbal or physical aggression. Here, we are focusing on the negative aspect of anger which is an unhealthy and destructive feeling.

Negative anger is defined as one of the most common and destructive feelings or emotional states in life. The negative effects of anger on our physical and emotional state are enormous. A single episode of anger releases hormones that affect the blood circulation, the heart functions, and even the brain. Depending on the intensity of this feeling and the degree of the coping ability of the person, anger may lead to a variety of emotional disorders.

It is important to know that half of the problem of anger is solved by recognizing, and owning it. It is also important to realize how it is harmful to the self and others. Here are some signs of anger:

Physical signs of anger includes:

  • Clenching your jaws or grinding your teeth
  • Headache, stomach ache
  • Increased and rapid heart rate
  • Shaking, trembling, or dizziness
  • Feeling hot in the neck or face; sweating, especially your palms

Emotional signs of anger includes:

  • Feeling you want to get away from the situation
  • Feeling irritated, sad, depressed, or guilty
  • Feeling resentment or anxious
  • Striking out verbally or physically

Also, you may notice that you are:

  • Cupping your fist, rubbing your head, pacing
  • Raising your voice; beginning to yell, scream, or cry
  • Getting sarcastic, losing your sense of humor
  • Acting in an abusive or abrasive manner
  • Craving a drink, a smoke or other substances that relax you

The good news is that anger can be managed since it is only part of the person, not the whole person, and there are ways to bring it under control. Through a holistic method that embraces practical daily life techniques, we can gradually eliminate the negative expression of anger from our lives. This approach will work on the levels of mind, body, and emotion. The first step is to find out what is the root cause of your anger. This can be done by exploring who, what, why of your anger; and what you can do about it. Then you can develop a comprehensive plan to deal with it.

Thought Management Techniques

  • You can check if your anger is related to a problem that can be resolved by communication, time management, or other problem solving techniques.
  • You can check whether or not your angry thoughts are real or imagined.
  • You can check to see if your anger is caused by distress, hurt, sadness, or something else unrelated to the current event.
  • You can reduce your anger by redirecting your thoughts away from the triggers.
  • You can start counting down from 100 to 1.
  • You can try to accept responsibility for your own problem without blaming others.
  • You can remind yourself that this anger is a destructive feeling that will not solve the problem and will hurt you even more.
  • You can think of how your role model would react in a similar situation.
  • You can visualize a calming place far away from the thought that angers you.

Physical Management Techniques

  • You can change your body posture.
  • You can change your environment (i.e. walking away from the situation, or going out of the house).
  • You can use some form of physical activity as outlet.
  • You can relax your body using progressive muscle relaxation techniques: start relaxing the muscles at the top of your head, slowly move down to your shoulder, your arms, upper body, area of hips, and legs. This can be done by tensing and relaxing the muscles of each limb.
  • You can breathe deeply for a few minutes.
    • Inhale to fill up your lung as much as possible.
    • Hold your breath for two seconds.
    • Exhale the breath as much as possible.
  • You can take a shower.

Emotional Management Techniques

  • You can recognize that anger is separate from the other feelings that you might confuse such as: sadness, frustration, jealousy, or envy.
  • You can express your feelings by talking to a counselor, a therapist, religious leader, mature family member, or a trustworthy friend.
  • You can integrate some form of calming practice such as meditation, Yoga, or Tai Chi in your daily activity.
  • AND NEVER FORGET THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS.

Resources:

Controlling Anger, Before It Controls You

Anger Management Techniques

Introduction to Anger Management

 

About the author: Taghi Amjadi, Ph.D, is a member of the counselor faculty at SFSU, Counseling & Psychological Services. Taghi has been working with Bay Area's multicultural populations in his private practice and variety of community based organizations since mid 1990's. His concentration is in the areas of relationship, personal growth, trauma, and cross-cultural psychotherapy. He has particular interest in assisting students to get access to their inner strengths through integral model. Taghi is a recipient of two awards from Contra Costa County for "outstanding community support and services." He is fluent in Farsi.