Angry feelings are a part of almost everyone’s life. Sometimes anger plays a small part without any problems. Other times, however, it becomes a large part of our lives. We may become rigid, mistrustful, or filled with rage.
Anger is a common emotion but it can be difficult to deal with. Quite often we have not been taught how to deal with our anger. We may have been shown how to deal with anger and it is usually shown in appropriate ways. We may have heard that it is not good to be angry.
We often grow up believing various misconceptions about anger, such as:
Nice people do not get angry.
We might lose control or go crazy if we share our anger.
If someone gets angry with us, we must have done something wrong.
People will not love us anymore if we get angry.
It’s okay to get angry if we can justify our feelings.
These misconceptions do not work for us in our day-to-day relationships.
So, what do we do with our built up anger? Well, we tend to do one of two things with it. Either we hold on to it or we act it out in inappropriate ways. By holding on to our anger, we eventually struggle with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and /or physical kinds of problems such as headaches or ulcers. If we explode with our anger, we may say or do things we eventually come to regret. Neither of these approaches will work for us.
First, we need to be aware of a few ideas about anger. We have a right to feel angry. Other people also have a right to feel angry. But we need to deal with our anger in appropriate ways. Dealing with our stored anger may take time and effort. Learning to appropriately express our anger takes patience.
Here are some ideas on how to deal with anger:
1. Allow yourself and others to feel angry.
2. Acknowledge your thoughts associated with your anger.
3. Look for patterns in which anger usually occurs.
4. Identify areas where you need change.
5. Practice talking openly and honestly about anger without acting on it.
6. Take responsibility for your anger. Other people are not in charge of your feelings.
7. Use physical outlets such as playing ball or yard work to release some emotional energy.
8. Write a letter to the person with whom you are angry, but do not mail it. This helps to deal with anger without anyone ever knowing.
As we begin to deal appropriately with our anger, we need to be easy with ourselves. This is especially true if we have been holding onto our anger for a long time. Do not overly focus on anger or look for reasons to become angry. Remember to be patient and to allow some mistakes, because this is how we learn.
Our anger is okay to express when we need to.
By Mark Webb, M.S., L.M.F.T.
Anger Management Classes available 7 days a week in Houston, Texas.
Gregory A. Kyles, M.A., LPC, CEAP, CAMF
Director, Anger Management Institute of Texas
Diplomate, President of Texas Chapter
American Association of Anger Management Providers