Anger is a symptom that indicates that there is an imbalance in your life. There can be a host of reasons why you feel angry at times. It may be due to some stress, frustration, fear, disappointment, resentment, depression, low self-esteem, and so on.
Anger is not a negative or unhealthy emotion. Rather, it is normal or a healthy emotion. However, it turns into an unhealthy emotion when it becomes chronic in nature.
Further, chronic or excessive anger as an emotion does not exist alone. A number of other symptoms accompany anger such as anxiety, impulsive behavior, unstable moods, and so on. Thus, chronic anger can have a negative impact on your relationships, health, mental state, and even your work.
So, here comes anger management that helps you to control anger in a healthy way. The following section explains the anger cycle and the anger management strategies that can help you in coping with anger.
What is Anger Management?
Anger is an emotion that ranges from mild irritation to intense rage. However, sometimes it may lead to aggression. Aggression is a behavior that causes harm or injury to others.
Now, anger becomes a problem when you express it too intensely, frequently, or inappropriately.
Therefore, you need to control anger not by suppressing it but by adopting assertive or constructive ways to express it.
So, anger management involves understanding the real reason behind your anger and express it in a healthy way. It does not involve suppressing feelings of anger.
Further, anger management makes you feel better, manages conflict in your life, and strengthens your relationships.
Why Manage Anger?
It is important to manage and express anger in an appropriate way.
This is because it helps you to first achieve both your personal and professional goals.
Expressing anger in an appropriate way makes you give constructive criticism and debate on creative differences which is healthy for work.
However, bursting out on colleagues, supervisors, or clients impacts your rapport and turns you away from them.
Secondly, effective anger management enhances your personal and professional relationships. It enables people to trust you and feel comfortable speaking the truth.
Next, anger management improves your health as you are less susceptible to stress, heart disease, diabetes, a weak immune system, insomnia, and high blood pressure.
Besides physical health, it also contributes to your mental health as it keeps you away from stress, depression, and other mental health problems.
Anger Management Strategies
The following are anger management strategies that will help you develop skills and cope with excessive anger successfully.
I. Identify Events and Cues To Anger
The first anger management strategy is to learn to evaluate an episode of anger.
This means you need to learn the skill of recognizing the events and cues indicating that you are under the influence of anger.
Remember, you get angry because of your perception of an event. Many times, specific events happen in your life that is associated with longstanding issues that can easily make you angry.
Thus, when you face an event in the present that makes you angry, you tend to recall an event from your past that made you feel angry.
So, you tend to feel angry when you recall such events from your past. The first step in dealing with anger is to identify such red flags.
Besides the events, you also need to learn to identify the cues or warning signs indicating that you are angry.
These cues can be either physical, behavioral, emotional, or cognitive in nature.
A. Physical Cues
These include body responses like increased heart rate, tightness in the chest, feeling hot or flushed.
B. Behavioral Cues
These include your actions like clenching your fists, raising your voice, staring at others, etc.
C. Emotional Cues
These include your feelings that occur along with escalating anger like fear, hurt, jealously, disrespect, etc.
D. Cognitive Cues
These include your thoughts that occur in response to the event causing anger. Examples include hostile self-talk, images of aggression and revenge, etc.
Thus, you need to learn to monitor anger and identify anger-related events. It will help you to become aware of your anger patterns, events, thoughts, feelings, and outcomes related to anger.
II. Monitor Anger Using Different Strategies
The next step in anger management is to adopt a host of strategies that help you cope with anger. These put together refer to adopting an Anger Control Plan.
An Anger Control Plan must include both immediate strategies like deep breathing and preventive strategies like altering irrational beliefs.
The following are the strategies that must form a part of your Anger Control Plan.
This is the most basic anger management strategy that helps you to get hold of your escalating emotions.
It simply means taking a deep breath and thinking over the situation rather than reacting to it directly.
To achieve this, you can either escape from the anger-causing situation or you need to stop discussing such an event.
However, this strategy is a success only when you officially form a timeout policy with your colleagues, friends, and family.
In other words, you need to formally enter into an agreement with the people involved in advance.
Such an agreement will enable each of the involved individuals to call for a timeout whenever they encounter a situation leading to escalation of anger.
B. Support From Loved Ones
The next step in anger management is to seek the support of your loved ones who can help you achieve your goals.
Besides this, they also help you in dealing with challenges successfully that come your way while implementing the anger control plan.
Always remember that the support of people who are closer to you and understand you can go a long way in helping you manage anger effectively.
This is because such people always give you honest feedback. Also, you can trust their guidance without hesitation and implement your action plan with the help of their support.
C. Deep Breathing
Another anger management strategy is to practice certain relaxation techniques like deep breathing.
You can implement this strategy once you identify the triggers that cause anger or the cues that warn you about anger escalation.
All you need to do is sit on a chair and find a comfortable position for yourself. Then, you need to close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing.
Next, you need to take a certain amount of deep breaths and get rid of any sort of muscle tension in your body.
Finally, practice this exercise as frequently as you can.
III. Understand the Anger Cycle
The next step in anger management is to understand how anger builds up. The primary objective behind this is to stop you from reaching the point of explosion.
Remember, there are three phases of the anger cycle. The first phase is the ‘Buildup’ phase that gives you cues about the escalation of anger.
The next phase is the ‘Explosion’ phase in case you allow the ‘Buildup’ phase to continue. In such a phase, you express anger in the form of verbal or physical aggression.
Now, the entire aim of understanding the anger cycle is to stop the escalation of anger using appropriate strategies from your anger control plan.
IV. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive Muscle relaxation is a technique that involves deep breathing and relieving tension off your muscles.
To practice this relaxation technique, you simply take a comfortable position, close your eyes, and take deep breaths.
After closing your eyes, you first need to tense a specific group of muscles, say your arm muscles, as you breathe in. Then, you need to relax these muscles as you breathe out.
Thus, you need to keep on working on different muscle groups in a sequence. Say, for instance, you can begin with tightening your hand muscles, then arms, neck, face, jaw forehead, eyes, ears, and so on.
Once your body gets relaxed, your anxiety gets eliminated. You can start practicing this skill using an audio recording.
After you learn all the muscle groups in order, you can then practice technique on your own without the audio recording.
V. Use A-B-C-D Model To Restructure Your Thoughts
The A-B-C-D Model is a form of cognitive restructuring that helps you treat anger in an effective way.
In this model, ‘A’ means ‘Activating Event’ or the ‘Red Flag Event’ that causes anger.
‘B’ stands for your ‘Beliefs’ about the activating event. As mentioned earlier, your perception of the activating event causes anger, not the activating event itself.
Then, ‘C’ represents the emotional ‘Consequences’ that you go through as a result of your interpretations and beliefs concerning the event.
Finally, ‘D’ in this model stands for ‘Dispute’. This involves recognizing any flawed beliefs and disputing them.
Further, you need to dispute such defective beliefs with more rational or realistic ways of looking at the activating event.
The objective of such an exercise is to replace self-statements that escalate anger with a more realistic and accurate interpretation of the event.
VI. Stopping Thoughts
Thought Stopping is a technique in which you simply tell yourself to stop thinking about thoughts that make you angry.
This is achieved through using a series of self-commands to stop yourself thinking about anger-provoking thoughts.
The objective of using this technique is to stop your current pattern of angry thoughts before they lead to an escalation of anger.
VII. Learn Assertiveness and Conflict Resolution
Another technique to manage anger involves expressing your opinion about the unreasonable demand in an assertive manner.
Acting in an assertive way makes other people understand your perspective and you are able to resolve the issue at hand.
So what is assertiveness? Acting assertively means taking a stand for yourself in a manner that maintains the respect of the other person.
The very objective behind acting assertively is to convey to the other person that your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are equally important.
This person is the one who treated you unfairly. Such a person violates your rights without going through the negative outcomes that you had to experience as a result of the injustice.
B. Conflict Resolution
Conflict Resolution is a cognitive restructuring model that you can use to act assertively with the person who treated you unfairly.
To implement this model, you need to follow the steps below:
- Identify the problem causing the conflict
- Determine the feelings associated with the conflict
- Identify the specific outcome of the issue causing the conflict
- Determining whether to resolve the conflict or just let it go
- Setting up a specific time to resolve the conflict
VII. Learn About Other Influencers
There are other things that you need to assess as a part of your anger management plan. These include the manner in which your family members expressed anger.
It is important to assess such issues as these have a direct impact on our behaviors, thoughts, feelings, and attitudes.
It is extremely important for you to manage anger effectively and develop self-control over your thoughts or actions.
This is because excessive anger not only impacts your physical and mental health but it also has a great influence on your relationships.
Thus, you need to frame an effective anger control plan including strategies that will help you to express anger in an appropriate way.