Date of the last update: 21.03.2022
We experience different emotions in our lifetime. Anger is one of them. It does not, however, have a positive reputation. Indeed, when we are angry, we can say and do things that we later regret very much. But anger can also be a warning that you have found yourself in a difficult situation or that your boundaries have been overstepped. Anger is an emotion worth looking into. But it is not about letting it control your behaviour.
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Paul Eckman describes anger as one of the basic emotions (along with joy, sadness, disgust, fear and surprise). That means that everyone experiences it. Anger often arises due to dissatisfaction, failure, threat and overstepped boundaries. Generally, it is a natural reaction that does not need to be fought. However, it is helpful to learn how to channel it. It is not an easy task as anger manifests itself spontaneously.
There are several ways to control your anger. Here are some of them.
- The most important thing is to recognise your anger. It is not always obvious to the person having an angry outburst. Anger causes different body symptoms, such as blushing, feeling hot, and faster heartbeat. Try to notice them and ask yourself if the overwhelming feeling is anger. Naming the emotion gives you an edge over it. Then think about what specifically made you angry.
- Many people find it helpful just to name anger and talk about it openly, e.g. “I get angry because…”, “I feel angry because…”. But if this is not enough, anger needs to be expressed in some other way. The key, however, is not to hurt yourself or others. So, you can shout, cry, do exercises or movement sequences that help to relieve tension.
- Everybody regrets moments when they let themselves be carried away by anger. Take these situations as material for work and simply analyse your anger. What triggered it? What reactions did it provoke? Could it have been expressed in any other way?
- A traditional way to tame anger is to count to 10 (or even 100 if you have to) or focus on your breathing.
- Exercising is a good solution for prolonged anger. You can also go for a long walk. Physical activity will make your emotions less intense. Another option is to write about your anger and its causes.
- Think if any factors trigger chronic anger in you. This emotion can be a response to someone overstepping your boundaries and toxic behaviour from others. In this sense, it can be a warning and a sign it is time to take action. Sometimes the way to deal with anger is to end certain relationships.
- When you feel angry, give yourself some time to calm down. Of course, this is not always possible, but in many cases, it is. Sometimes after an argument with your partner, it is enough to take a walk to cool down your emotions and see the situation from a more rational perspective.
- If you often experience anger in your life, consider psychotherapy. Uncontrollable and frequent anger outbursts may indicate problems with emotional control. The problem exacerbates if you start behaving dangerously for yourself and others. It means that you need support from a specialist to help you investigate your reactions. Psychotherapy is a good opportunity to develop new behaviours and better ways of coping with anger.
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Life is not always pleasant and cheerful. Some situations evoke unpleasant emotions, such as anger. And anger may provoke various unnecessary comments and behaviours. No matter how annoyed you feel and how you manifest it, start by just accepting it. It is a natural emotion that affects everyone and is often rational. Instead of feeling guilty and ashamed, just try to observe and control it. With training, it will get much easier.
Explore more: Mental resilience – what is it and how do you build it?