4 Steps to Keep Anger Under Control
Anger is a normal and healthy emotion, but when it you lose control of it, there can be dire consequences in your personal relationships, health, and mood.
Two important elements in leading a more peaceful life are being conscious of the reasons why we get mad, and learning effective ways to manage explosive anger.
The emotion of anger isn’t necessarily good or bad. It is normal to get mad when you have been abused in some way or treated unjustly. The feeling itself is not the problem, but rather what you do with it that makes the difference. Anger becomes a problem when others are harmed by your reaction to it.
The problem is that people with a strong character often need to express their rage and get it out. This affects those who are around them when they do. But it is possible to learn to express these emotions without causing damage. Doing this will not only make you feel better, but rather help you to satisfy your needs.
Dominating the art of anger management requires work. It can certainly be achieved with practice, and the reward can be enormous. Learning to control anger and to express it correctly can help you build better relationships, reach your goals, and lead a healthy and satisfying life.
How to manage anger
Step 1: Explore what is really behind your anger
If you feel like you are out of control, you need to identify the reasons why. Often, anger problems are a consequence of what you have learned in childhood, and you react in ways that you have seen other people in your environment react. In this case, it means you have absorbed and accepted the idea that anger is expressed in a certain way (for example by yelling at others, throwing things, hitting things, slamming doors, screaming, etc…). When this is the idea you have internalized, traumatic events and high levels of stress can also make you susceptible to anger, and to exhibiting these behaviors.
Usually, other masked emotions are found behind anger. When you feel anger dominating you, think about whether or not you are truly angry, or simply showing anger to disguise other emotions, such as shame, insecurity, pain, or vulnerability.
As an adult, you may have difficulties recognizing the emotions that are not anger, especially if you have grown up in an environment in which the expression of feelings was not accepted.
Step 2: Be conscious of the warning signs and triggers that unleash your anger
Before exploding with anger, there are physical warning signs that your body exhibits that you should pay attention to. Rage is a normal physical response. Be conscious of the warning signs that indicate that your temper is beginning to boil over, and allow yourself to take some measures to manage your anger before it gets out of your control.
To be able to do this, pay attention to the way in which anger shows itself in your body. It could be any of the following symptoms:
- Knots in your stomach
- Clenching your fists or your jaw
- Rapid breathing
- Stimulation or need to walk around
- Trouble concentrating
- Pounding or racing heart
- Tension in your shoulders.
Step 3: Learn ways to “cool down” your anger
Once you learn to recognize the warning signs of rising anger and your triggers, you can act quickly to confront your anger before it gets out of your control. There are many techniques that can help to “cool down” your anger and keep it under control. Some quick tips to “cool down” your anger include:
- Concentrate on the physical sensations of anger. Frequently tuning in to the way your body feels when it is angry diminishes the emotional intensity of anger.
- Take several deep breaths. Breathing slowly and deeply helps to counteract tension. The key is to breath deeply from the abdomen, inhaling as much air as possible.
- Move around. Movement helps to release accumulated energy so you can tackle the situation with a clear mind.
- Use your senses. Take advantage of the relaxing power of your senses: listen to music, visualize a place that relaxes you, etc…
- Stretch or massage areas of tension. Move your shoulders. Massage your scalp. The key is in relaxing the parts of the body that are physically affected by tension.
- Count to ten slowly. This technique aims to leave the mind in a more rational state and keep ourselves updated on our own emotions. If one time isn’t enough, do it again.
Step 4: Search for healthy ways to express your anger
Many times, it is necessary to release the anger that is pent up inside. The key is to express that feeling in a healthy way. When it is communicated with respect and channeled correctly, anger can be a huge source of energy and inspiration for change.