Anger is one of our most basic human emotions and is experienced by all people. Anger can be an adaptive response to a threat or possible harm and allows us to defend ourselves. Anger can also be an emotional response to being mistreated, emotionally hurt, or to our perception that an individual is attempting to take from us something of importance.
The experience of anger is different for each person in regard to how intensely the person feels anger, how often anger is experienced, and the duration of the feeling. Each one of us has an anger threshold, or the amount of intensity or duration of a situation it requires to feel angry.
Anger can be a constructive feeling, and handled in a positive way it can alert and motivate an individual. However, it can also be destructive with serious emotional (loss of pleasure), physiological (hypertension, high blood pressure), and psychological (depression) consequences in addition to other consequences imposed by school, work, or the law. Negatively demonstrated anger can also alienate family, friends, peers, and co-workers.
Here are some proven strategies to help you manage your anger. See which ones work best for you:
—Ask yourself: Where is this anger coming from? What are the external and internal triggers involved?
—Deep breathing and relaxing imagery can defuse anger (See Beating Stress Virtual Pamphlet).
—Changing the way you think. When you’re angry, you tend to think in highly exaggerated, colorful terms. Try replacing these with more rational ones.
—Don't jump to conclusions! When in a heated discussion, don't say the first thing that enters your head. Slow down, think carefully, and listen carefully to the other person before answering.
—Imagining silly scenes or people can defuse anger. However, don't try to laugh off anger, and don't use harsh, sarcastic humor.
—Your external surroundings or situations could be frustrating you. Identify the instances that continually anger you, and take small steps to change the situation or your reaction to it.
—Ask yourself: What worked? What did I do right? What could I do differently? What could I do next time to make things go more smoothly?
—Accept how you have handled anger in the past and learn how to handle it in the future.
—Think about a situation where you became angry and lost control. Identify the triggers. What could you have done differently? What do you plan on doing in that type of situation in the future?
Additional Information about anger may be found on our Web-based Resources page.