Anger Management - Part 1: Understanding Anger
The first of a three-part series on anger management, today's article describes anger, some myths about anger, and the importance of learning to control anger responses.
Are you known for having a short fuse or a hot temper? Do you frequently get into arguments? If so, an upgrade to your anger management skills might be in order.
Chronic anger issues can get out of control and have serious repercussions for your health, work, and relationships. Understanding the reasons behind your anger and the addition of some anger management tools will allow you to better manage your emotions.
Anger is a perfectly normal emotion, and you should expect to feel some anger when you’ve been treated badly. Anger is simply a message from your body that you believe something is wrong. The initial emotion isn’t the real problem. It’s the actions you take in response to your anger that have the potential to be damaging.
If your temper frequently escalates, you might believe that it’s out of your control and there is little that can be done. However, you have far more control over your emotions than you think. The key is to discover a way to express your anger without hurting others.
Like any other skill, managing the emotion of anger will take some work. But it gets easier with time, and the payoff is tremendous. Your life will be happier and healthier. Your relationships and work-life will get better.
Keep in mind your anger is simply a message that some part of you believes something is wrong. At that point, your emotion has served its purpose. Now it is up to you to take the message and respond accordingly to fix the situation in an appropriate manner.
Here are 4 myths about anger you should learn to dispel to successfully deal with your anger:
- Myth: Anger should always be vented. It is unhealthy to ‘hold in’ any anger that you’re feeling.
- Fact: Anger should not be held in, but venting anger in an uncontrolled way isn’t healthy either. Expressing your anger in an excessive manner only creates more anger and hostility. The person on the receiving end of your anger is likely to become frightened or even angry themselves.
- Myth: Being aggressive, angry, and intimidating is just a way of being strong. You are more likely to be respected and get your way by acting out in anger.
- Fact: Bullying people never results in real power or respect. True strength is being able to control your actions. Others are far more likely to respond positively to your needs and requests if you treat them appropriately and respectfully.
- Myth: My anger is beyond my control. I can't do anything about it.
- Fact: Your responses to your anger are almost entirely under your control. To this point, you simply haven’t learned to implement the proper techniques to control your responses. Anger can be expressed without resorting to abuse.
- Myth: Anger management is all about suppressing my feelings of anger.
- Fact: Anger is normal; eliminating all feelings of anger isn’t a reasonable goal. Anger management is about realizing that you’re angry and consciously choosing to direct the anger in the proper direction. Your response to your anger can be chosen, and your response can make the situation better.
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
- Mark Twain
Many individuals have difficulty controlling their actions in response to the feeling of anger. They believe aggressively unloading it is the only healthy way to handle it. Commonly, those with anger management issues believe others are overly sensitive and just need to ‘toughen-up.’
Realistically, poorly managed anger is very likely to ruin relationships, disrupt good judgment, impede success, and cause others to view you negatively. It has a far greater impact on your life than you probably realize.
Here are several reasons why controlling your anger is so important:
- Poorly managed anger damages your physical health. Stress has been found increase your risk for many health-related issues and shorten your lifespan. Some of these health issues include: diabetes, high blood pressure, insomnia, and an increase in cholesterol levels. Your immune system is also weakened.
- Poorly managed anger damages your career. Poorly managed anger harms your relationships with your supervisor, co-workers, and customers. Other employees will have less respect and trust for you. Once you have earned a bad reputation, it can be challenging to change the perception of others.
- Poorly managed anger damages your personal relationships. Intense anger is very destructive to all relationships. Others find it difficult to express themselves or feel comfortable in your presence. They are hesitant to talk about many topics for fear of your reaction.
- Poorly managed anger damages your mental health. Excessive anger requires a lot of energy and disrupts your thought processes. It is more challenging to enjoy your life or to concentrate when you feel excessive anger. Anger can result in depression, stress-related issues, and numerous other mental health ailments.
“Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.”