Anger is a powerful secondary emotion usually experienced in response to a sense of harm that someone has inflicted upon us (insult, criticism, abandonment, physical attack etc). Anger can also rise up in us sometimes from our own misperceptions of reality, destructive thinking about normal life issues or memories of past traumatic events. Underlying the majority of anger is:
- Hurt & rejection
- Sense of unfairness or injustice
- Violation of rights
- Vulnerability (not feeling good enough)
- Self loathing
- Longing for connection
Anger is neither a good or bad emotion within itself – it is simply a signal with a strong message that is worth listening to. This emotion is intended to protect and provide energy to help us problem solve and uphold righteousness, grace and love. It charges us with a lot of energy and this can be used for good and growth or harm and destruction.
It’s what you do with your anger that defines you. If you choose to vent without thought of others, it will very quickly wreak havoc and ruin upon your relationships. Yet if you choose to harness and channel it appropriately, you’ll be able to feel happier with yourself and your choices in life.
Handling Your Anger in Healthy Ways
1. See It: Be aware of your triggers. Triggers refer to people, situations, thinking patterns or memories that cause you to be angry. Pay attention to your body, the sensation of anger, your thoughts and the situation– record them so that you can learn to identify your triggers.
2. Delay It: Take a twenty minute time out by removing yourself from the situation. Take some deep breaths, look out of the window or close your eyes. Relax your shoulders and breathe out slowly and intentionally. Go for a walk or a run, journal your thoughts, pray or meditate upon your values. When your anger is at its height, it is wise to direct your energy and intention into solitary activities which will assist you in regaining your balance.
3. Express It Constructively: learn to respond not react. Keep a healthy distance from the other person until you can speak constructively (ensure that you do return and deal with the issue or conflict and not just ignore or avoid it). Speak slowly and quietly. If there’s a situation you really need to fight for – fight fairly. Assertiveness is okay but aggression is not. Learn to confront with the intention of restoring not destroying.
If you do not know how to be assertive without raising your voice or yelling, if you are struggling with ongoing conflict that seems impossible to resolve or if you are stuck in anger towards yourself or life in general, then consider seeking some counselling or therapy.
At Bethesda Counselling and Family Therapy, you can be assured of being supported in learning new ways of understanding and handling your anger and in the process, be helped to move forward in your relationships and life with a greater sense of empowerment and balance.