Anger, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad. It’s what we do when we’re angry that matters. Anger is a tool that helps us to read and respond to the social situations that bother us. But how can we keep it under control?
It’s normal to think that getting angry is negative and many times we punish ourselves for doing so. But contrary to popular belief, research indicates that anger increases optimism, creativity and efficiency. In addition, studies suggest that anger can lead to more successful negotiations at work, as well as in our personal lives.
In fact, suppressing anger can be very bad for your health. In this sense, Dr. Ernest Harburg and his team at the University of Michigan School of Public Health performed a study many decades ago by monitoring a group of adults and their capacity for anger.
What these researchers found is that the men and women who repressed their anger as a response to an unjust attack had a higher risk of developing bronchitis, suffering from heart attacks, and were more prone to dying before their colleagues who let their anger surface when they felt bothered.
When anger arises, we feel the need to either prevent or put an end to this powerful emotion for the sake of our wellbeing or the wellbeing of those we care about. But this act of kindness, compassion, love or justice isn’t beneficial in this way. A healthy society is not a society free of anger.
However, it’s definitely a good thing to be cautious when anger begins to surface. Expressing your anger can be appropriate with certain people at certain times. The question lies in how to do it without losing control.
How can we control our anger?
When you want to express your anger, or any other challenging emotion, a good way to do it is to start by giving a “heads up.” In other words, let those around you clearly know that you are experiencing some intense emotions due to something that has happened. It’s easier to handle if you can communicate clearly about it.
In the event that you are not capable of being clear, it’s advisable to apologize in advance. Not for your feelings or actions, but for the possible misunderstanding that may result from you not being able to clearly express yourself the way you normally would. The point of giving a heads up is to disarm the other person so that they don’t go on the defense. When someone realizes that the other person isn’t feeling comfortable and that the conversation is difficult, this makes room for empathy.
After this, you need to delve into what is bothering you and what you are thinking/feeling because of what happened. Why did you feel anger instead of some other emotion? It can be difficult to manage anger, but it’s necessary to know why it appears in the first place and how to avoid suppressing it. Instead, you need to recognize the difference between what you can change and what is outside of your control. If something happens that is completely out of your control, there is no benefit whatsoever in becoming angry. However, if there is something you can do about it, clear communication works very efficiently and gives much better results.
The key to expressing your anger is in finding the appropriate tone for expressing what it is that upsets you.
It’s important to put the brakes on the arising situation as soon as possible. The general tendency we have is to react immediately, especially if the situation is really tense. But to avoid unnecessary shouting, hitting, or other violent reactions, it’s worth taking a moment to step back and think, even though we may be in the middle of an argument with someone.
It’s also good to let the other person know that you need a moment to take a step back so that the situation doesn’t progress. Good decisions should always take precedence over rash decisions. Take a slow, deep breath. There are plenty of options for you to choose from when you find yourself in an emotionally charged situation.