Anger is a common emotion with which we are all familiar. We’ve all felt it at some point, and perhaps you’ve even been on the receiving end of someone’s anger. Whether it was something as simple as a feeling of annoyance that quickly passed, or an explosive outburst of rage, anger can be a powerful emotion.
It’s normal to feel anger, even though anger may have negative associations for many people. The dark side of anger is when it gets out of control and becomes destructive, because then it’ll undermine relationships and cause issues at work, not to mention health issues. It is just as well that there are many warnings in the Bible about uncontrolled anger, such as:
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. – James 1: 19-21, NIV
When anger is out of control, it can make you feel powerless, and at the mercy of an uncontrollable and unpredictable force. You and your loved ones don’t have to live under the sway of anger.
How to Deal with Anger
This article will help you deal with anger by suggesting a few things, namely, that it helps to understand what causes anger, and by providing some tips for dealing with anger proactively as well as what to do when you’re feeling angry. The hope is that you can nip anger in the bud and curb its destructive potential. To deal with anger, you need to address it comprehensively, because a piecemeal approach may leave you vulnerable.
Understand what causes anger.
The first thing to do if you want to deal effectively with anger is to understand what causes it. Finding the underlying cause of anger is one of the most important steps you can take toward managing and bringing it under control. Anger is a response to external and internal stimuli, and these can vary widely. Some of the more common causes and triggers of anger include:
- Injustice, or being treated unfairly and feeling powerless to do anything about it.
- Feeling threatened or attacked.
- Stress from personal problems such as finances, relationship conflict, or being overlooked for a promotion at work. These can make you feel anxious and irritable.
- Feeling unheard, unappreciated, invisible, or undervalued.
- Being disrespected, perhaps through people not respecting your person, property, feelings, or authority.
- Being disappointed, like when a person cancels plans, or your desires aren’t met.
- Traumatic events, such as childhood abuse, and memories of such events.
- Mental health challenges, such as depression, grief, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, bipolar disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, alcohol abuse, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
- Hunger, chronic pain, fear, and lack of sleep.
- Hormonal imbalances, such as decreased levels of estrogen just before menses, thyroid hormone imbalances, or higher levels of cortisol due to medications or tumors.
Other causes of anger include having weak personal boundaries, which leads a person to say, “yes” when they want to say “no,” leading to frustration and exhaustion. Having control issues can also lead to anger because you can’t control everything, and anger can also result from repressing your emotions and not expressing your true feelings.
Actively deal with it.
When you understand what causes anger, you can deal with it proactively. If you know your anger is triggered by hunger or poor sleep, you can eat and sleep on a regular schedule. If your hormones are imbalanced, that can be addressed using medications and supplements, and hormones such as cortisol can have their levels reduced through regular exercise and good sleep.
Sometimes, you need to make a few tweaks to avoid the triggers of anger. for instance, if the route of your daily commute is congested and frustrates you every morning, consider an alternative route or catching a ride with a colleague every other day. If your coworker’s messy office makes collaborations frustrating, why not meet in your office or elsewhere?
And if you find that you fight with your spouse late at night when you’re tired and not up to having heavy discussions, you can leave the evenings for unwinding and connecting, and move your discussion times to the weekend when you have more energy.
Other ways to actively deal with anger include learning how to communicate better. When you can express your emotions constructively, that helps you get things off your chest instead of letting them fester. Communication isn’t just about expressing yourself, but also about learning to listen better.
When you hear others better, you can understand their needs and be more responsive toward them. This can help you head off conflict before it springs up, and it can help contain it. instead of being defensive, learning how to patiently ask questions can help understand and know how to effectively respond to felt and expressed needs.
Another way to deal with anger is to undergo cognitive restructuring. Anger disrupts rational thought. Have you ever noticed that when people are angry, they tend to generalize and exaggerate? How you phrase things can make you feel like there is no solution to the problem, and that your feelings of anger are justified.
Saying that this person “never treats you fairly,” or you “always break things,” closes off the possibility that things can change, and it locks you into a downward spiral of anger, frustration, and helplessness. Instead, recognize that it isn’t the end of the world just because sometimes things don’t work out. It’s okay to have desires, and while those desires are sometimes frustrated, going about making demands is a sure path to disappointment when things don’t pan out.
Lastly, learning relaxation techniques such as calming imagery and breathing techniques can help you calm your angry and frustrated feelings. These techniques can be used at any time, and they work to calm you before and during tense situations when anger flares up.
Dealing with anger in the moment
There are several ways to deal with anger in the moment, including the following:
Relaxation techniques. Whether it’s deep breathing from your diaphragm; repeating a phrase such as “take it easy,” “it’ll be all right,” or “God’s got this;” or visualizing images that calm you down, you can calm yourself and tamp down the furnaces.
Problem-solving. This directs your focus toward the issue at hand. You may not be able to resolve every problem, but deciding to face the issue head-on and do your best goes a long way toward helping you respond to problems constructively instead of with impotent anger.
Using humor. We often take ourselves too seriously. Taking a step back may allow us to see how unreasonable we’re being and give us some much-needed perspective. Humor, as long as it isn’t sarcastic humor or the kind that makes you avoid your problems, can help you humbly face your issues.
Changing your surroundings. Sometimes, when a situation is heating up, you just need space to exit the room to cool off. If you’re having an intense argument with your spouse, you can agree to go to separate rooms for half an hour. Taking that time may allow you to decompress, reset, and be in a better frame of mind to handle the conversation.
Getting help for how to deal with anger
Anger may be a recent companion for you, or perhaps you’ve been dealing with it for a long time. Whatever the reasons for your anger, or the duration of the problem, controlling anger can be challenging. You must deal with any anger problem as early as possible because this will help you avoid it escalating to the point where you hurt yourself or others in your life.
If you believe that your anger is out of control, causing you to constantly feel hostile, or negatively affecting your life or relationships, consider seeking help from a mental health professional. A mental health professional can help you determine if you have an underlying mental health condition that requires further treatment. Some conditions such as depression, ADHD, and anxiety can be treated using medications and therapy.
A mental health professional can assist you in various ways, including the various methods of dealing with anger mentioned above, such as relaxation techniques and cognitive restructuring. A Christian counselor can journey with you to help you see your anger from a Biblical perspective, help you to make use of the resources God provides, and learn the value and place of self-control.
Your counselor can also help you learn how to be assertive and express yourself if you tend to repress your anger and direct it inward. You don’t have to be ruled by anger, you can learn to deal with it by bringing it under control and expressing it in constructive ways. Reach out and find a counselor today and begin taking back control over your life.
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