Everyone in the world has experienced anger in their lives. Whether it’s a chronic problem in your own life, or someone in your family that’s dealing with it, it can completely take over and make you feel out of control.
It’s important to learn how to deal with anger — both manifested in yourself and in others — so that you can take back control of your life. A little bit of controlled anger can be a useful motivator, but as soon as you let it dominate your thoughts and feelings, it can ruin your life. Here is some information about how anger manifests, and what to do when you encounter uncontrollable anger in yourself, or in others.
What is anger?
Anger is an emotion that helps us notice when we feel something is wrong or unjust. Anger in and of itself isn’t a bad thing since it can help trigger your fight or flight response, which is a part of our brain that we rely on to get us out of life-threatening situations.
In prehistoric times, our fight or flight response kept us alive in physically dangerous situations. Now, our fight or flight response may be triggered by stress or anger, and it takes a lot of convincing before our bodies are able to calm down and start thinking rationally. This is why it’s important for us to be able to calm our anger before it triggers our fight or flight response.
What causes anger?
If you consider yourself an angry person, chances are there are a lot of things that can cause you to become angry.
In general, people become angry because they feel powerless, or because they wish to intimidate others in order to influence a situation in their favor. People can also experience righteous anger, where they become angry as a result of an indignity committed against themselves or person that they love.
Anger can be caused by external factors or by internal factors. For example, depressed people often become angry because they’re frustrated with their own lack of power or agency.
Is anger always a negative force?
Anger isn’t necessarily a negative emotion. For some people, simply the ability to have and express an emotion (any emotion) is a positive thing.
Anger can be used as a motivator to accomplish tasks, and can also be shared among a large group if they are looking to bond together. Following a tragedy or a catastrophic event, people gather to mourn and to experience their righteous anger together. The only problem comes when people let it take over their life. Anger can cause all sorts of health problems if it’s left unchecked too long.
Treating anger in yourself
Anger can be a useful tool. It can force you to confront issues that you’ve never dealt with before, and can motivate you to seek a solution that you may not have had the nerve to seek otherwise.
There are many ways that you can vent your anger, but you will start to run into problems if you go through life with anger unreleased or unchecked. It’s important to first recognize the cause of your anger, then, once you’ve achieved a little more control over your thoughts, seek to rectify the situation.
Here are a few tips to help you control your anger once it manifests.
1. Take a few deep breaths
Taking a few deep breaths should always be the first step to calming your anger because it helps bring oxygen into your lungs and brain. Taking very deep, very slow breaths can help de-activate your fight or flight response, which makes it impossible for you to feel comfortable and safe until your brain is certain that you’re in no danger.
When you’re in the fight or flight response, the rational, thinking part of your brain takes a back seat, just like it would in a true life-threatening situation. Taking some slow deep breaths sends a signal to your brain that the danger has passed. It’s much easier to think clearly once the rational part of your brain is back online.
2. Walk away
Another way to help calm yourself when you’re dealing with your own anger is to walk away. Taking a break from the situation that is making you upset can help give you much needed perspective, and can help you see the circumstances in a whole new light.
When you walk away, really try and stay in the present moment instead of simply turning the reasons for your anger over in your head. Notice your surroundings — the air, the light around you, and try and really focus on your senses. This will help ground you in the moment, and can help take the edge off your anger.
One way to help reduce your anger if you find yourself feeling out of control is to go out and get some exercise. Physical activity can help lower your stress levels, and you can use that surge of energy that you may get when you’re angry to push yourself physically, instead of lashing out emotionally.
If you realize that your anger is getting out of control, go out for a run or a bike ride. Scheduling physical activity into your week can help you work out some of your pent-up energy, and leave you feeling satisfied and drained.
4. Identify the cause of your anger
After you’ve taken a few deep breaths or gone for a walk, you may find that you’re ready to start dealing with the cause of your anger. If you have chronic anger issues, this may be something that you want to work on with a therapist.
Even if it isn’t a chronic problem, you still need to identify the reason why you were so angry in the first place. Was your anger caused by a lack of control, or because you wanted to make yourself feel powerful? If you find yourself dealing with the same type of anger often, it probably means that there are aspects of your life that you need to examine.
Dealing with anger in others
Sometimes, you may find yourself in situations where you’re not the angry party, but you’re still forced to deal with the effects of anger. In those situations, it’s important to know as much as possible about anger so that you’re able to stay in control of the situation.
Here are a few tips for dealing with anger in others.
1. Stay calm and in control
It can be scary to find yourself in a situation with someone whose anger is out of control. They may rage at you, yelling and screaming, or you may find that they become icy and completely shut you.
In any case, it’s important to stay calm and maintain control of your own emotions. As soon as you start using the same tactics that they are, all chance of having a rational, civil conversation goes out the window. Stay calm, take a few deep breaths, and don’t give in to any tactics they may use to draw you into an argument.
2. Validate their feelings
Many times, people become angry because they feel like their emotions and thoughts are going unacknowledged. Being ignored is a horrible feeling, and it’s so easily remedied if you’re able to validate your partner’s feelings. Even if you don’t agree with what they’re saying, you can diffuse the situation by acknowledging how they feel and supporting their right to express their feelings.
3. Get angry together
Another way that you can diffuse another person’s anger is to get angry with them (not at them). It seems counter-intuitive, but if you’re able to make them realize that you support their feelings and don’t need to be the object of their anger, it will help calm them down.
Focus on ways to move forward together, and you’ll not only force them to start considering practical solutions, you’ll be able to bond over executing your plan together.
4. Forgive them
Many people grow up so afraid of expressing anger that they bottle it up inside, where it festers until it explodes. Anger has to be vented eventually, so the best thing you can do for a loved one who is angry is express that you love them unconditionally. Encourage them to safely vent their anger, then work towards a resolution together.