NOTE: Mood Management sessions are offered through the Counselling Centre (http://www.mun.ca/counselling/home/) each Friday from 12-1pm; please register by calling 864-8874.
Anger is a normal, human emotion. It is intense. Everyone gets angry and has a right to his / her anger. The trick is managing your anger effectively so that it will mobilize you to remain positive.
The first step in anger management is getting to know your anger by recognizing its symptoms. Answer the following questions honestly and you will be prepared to take the steps to manage your anger appropriately.
...grit your teeth?
...get a headache?
...get sweaty palms?
...get a stomachache?
...feel like running away?
...feel like lashing out?
... cry / yell / scream
... use substances?
... get sarcastic?
... lose sense of humor?
... become abusive?
Does your anger...
...last too long?
...become too intense?
...lead to aggression?
...interfere with major roles (parent, worker, student, etc.)?
...creep out in mysterious ways?
...contribute to physical problems?
...come too frequently?
...flare too quickly?
As the number of times that you answer "yes" to these questions rises the more important becomes the need to address your anger. Now that you have acknowledged any symptoms, perhaps it's time to work on your anger management skills! No matter how good you think you are at dealing with anger, there is always room for improvement!
Three main styles of addressing anger are stuffing, escalating and managing. Stuffing and Escalating are detrimental to well-being, but Managing ensures that anger becomes an accepted part of our lives and can be channeled in the right direction to improve our lives.
Do you hide your anger?
Do you tend to avoid direct confrontation?
Are there times when you feel bad for getting angry?
Is it hard for you to admit when you’re angry?
If so, you may be considered a “Stuffer”
Some reasons why we "stuff" are:
- Fear of hurting / offending someone
- Fear of losing control
- Fear of being disliked or rejected
- Feeling it's inappropriate (not ok) to be angry
- Feeling unable to cope with a strong and intense emotion
- Fear of damaging / losing a relationship
- It's a learned behavior (but it can be unlearned!)
- Living in an unfamiliar environment, such as university
Consequences / Problems:
- Anger comes out -- regardless
- Impairs relationships
Compromises physical and mental health-back to top-
Does your anger "escalate" to rage?
Do you try to control your emotions, but are unable to?
Do you blame and shame the provoker of your anger?
Does your anger sometimes lead to abusive situations?
If so, you may be “Escalating” your anger
Some reasons why we "escalate" are:
- Feeling like there are no other choices of addressing the situation
- Demonstrating an image of strength and/or power
- Avoiding the underlying emotions
- Fear of getting close to someone
- It's a learned behavior (but it can be unlearned!).
- Lack of appropriate communication skills
Consequences / Problems:
- Desired results may be short-term
- Possibility of physical destruction
- Impairs relationships
- Compromises physical and mental health
Legal ramifications-back to top-
Do you manage your anger?
Do you allow your anger to mobilize you in positive directions?
This is the pinnacle of dealing with anger. When you are able to manage anger effectively a heated discussion may produce positive results. Open, honest and direct expression is the most effective way of managing anger.
"I'm really working hard on managing my anger --
so . . . I need to talk to you. I feel angry when ....."
Easier said than done, huh? When expressing anger keep these important skills in mind...
Remind yourself that anger is a normal, human emotion-- it's OK to feel angry!
- Before open, honest and direct expression, evaluate the following: What was the trigger event? Is this good timing for the listener? Am I sure about how I feel?
Set a specific time limit for anger discussion.
Remember your body language: Firm voice, Moderate tone, Maintain personal space, Establish an even eye level and make constant eye contact
Don't attack or blame the person
Focus on the specific behavior that triggered your anger
Avoid black and white thinking. ("You never…")
- Use "I" statements: "I" feel angry when ...","I" feel angry that... "
Avoid statements / actions that you'll regret later
- Don't drag in old issues now
Check for possible compromises
After open, honest and direct expression, close the discussion, and then move on!
When it's over, pat yourself on the back for your assertiveness!
Remind yourself, “The situation will be better off in the long run!"
NOW say to yourself:
"By managing my anger I took an important step in improving my sense of well-being!"
Positive consequences of managing your anger include:
- Increasing daily energy level
- Develops effective communication skills
- Strengthens relationships
- Improves physical and mental health
Additional Effective Management Techniques:
1. Constructive (not destructive) methods / solutions / ideas
- Trying physical outlets. (.g. exercise, housework, crafts, etc.)
- Problem solving and coming up with action plans. (e.g. forming a neighborhood watch to combat vandalism.)
2. Involving an objective third party
- Ask someone you trust to listen to the argument
3. The "third party" exercise.
- Pretend you're sitting across from the person you're angry with and say what's on your mind.
4. Writing a letter to the target of your anger
- You could describe your anger right now, at the time of the anger event or both. You can destroy it / you can save it / you can mail it at a later date.
5. Relaxation techniques.
- Guided imagery
- Self-help tapes
- Read a Book
6. Positive self-talk
- "I am able to choose my anger style"
- "I am angry but I'm not going to let it control me"
- “I have control over my emotions”
7. Resolve anger through acceptance of triggers
- learning to live with the fact that certain people and situations, past present & future, will not change
- Make realistic expectations: What is one frustrating anger situation?
Can it really change as you'd like it to in the near future?
- Realize the powerlessness over the situation
- Give yourself a time limit to be angry, and then ... let it go!
- Remind yourself, "I cannot afford to stay angry”
- Ask yourself, “What's at stake here?"
- Recognize the need for forgiveness
- Focus on the present
Hopefully you will now be able to manage your anger better and keep a cool head in the most heated situations. It’s a tough job… but you can do it!
Source: Wellness Reproductions INC., 1991