Anger is best defined as “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility”.
At a very early age, people learn to express their anger by copying the behavior they see around them. As humans we see how much we can get away with, what we can say without consequence, and how to apologize for our actions. Some people are brought up learning that it is inappropriate to directly express their anger because it is “dangerous”. Yes, angry people are capable of doing very violent things and yes, anger can be abused. Anger, however, is also critical to self-preservation, self-defense and a completely normal emotion.
A problem with anger exists if a person becomes dependent on their anger to express themselves. If anger is used inappropriately or in an uncontrolled way, it becomes harmful to everyone involved. A problem may exist if anger becomes the sole reason for loss of relationships, loss of jobs and physical/emotional erosion.
Help for people with these kinds of issues comes in the form of anger management programs. These are typically coordinated interventions that are designed to address what makes a person angry, and methods to control it.
Anger management usually begins with discussion. What triggers the anger? What happens when you get angry? How do you feel after? Once it is clearly defined what causes the anger different techniques can be used to help control the responsive behavior.
Simple relaxation tools like deep breathing and imagery can help a person calm down. Some people find that breathing deeply from the diaphragm helps to calm their nerves and control their heart rate. The practice of non-strenuous, slow yoga can also help alleviate tension from a situation.
Cognitive restructuring is another form of anger management. Simply put: Change the way you think. When we get angry, thoughts can become exaggerated and dramatic. One way of managing anger is to try replacing these thoughts with those that are more calming or “natural”.
Anger can be a reaction to an inescapable problem that is very real and permanent. It is important to note that not all anger is misplaced and often times is a healthy reaction. If you believe every problem can be solved, the best way to manage feelings of anger is to focus on finding a solution. Make a plan and follow it through.
In some cases, laughter can be the best medicine. Some researchers spend their career studying the affects laughter has on the health of a person. Some found that laughter had a calming affect and made people appreciate the other side of the “argument”.
Most importantly, anger is natural. It cannot be eliminated, but it can be controlled. Life is like a roller coaster, it’s got ups and downs and twists and turns. The happiest, most calm people in the world experience anger from time to time. Anger does not define a person, the way they handle the anger does.