What is anger management? The healthy way to deal with your emotions
4 minute read
What is anger and is it a bad thing?
Anger gets a bad rap, but it’s a normal, healthy emotion that we’re all born with. Anger represents our “no” energy, which is an important developmental stage in each of our lives. It means that our needs are not being met or somebody has hurt us emotionally, physically, mentally or spiritually.
We all have different ways of expressing, and dealing with, anger. This has a lot to do with our early conditioning i.e. the language of anger in our households growing up. The way that we express anger, as a currency of communication, is influenced by our value system and beliefs.
For example, if you grew up in a household where anger was seen as a normal emotion that can be handled constructively, you will find it easier to act empathetically when faced with an angry person and to channel your own anger in a healthy way.
One positive effect of anger is when it is channelled towards a greater good. Look at any trailblazers and see how their anger, outrage and passion fuels their drive for change and progress. Anger can be productive when used in the right way.
How can anger management help?
First of all, we need to accept that our anger isn’t going anywhere, but how we deal with anger can change. As Gandhi said “your life is one indivisible whole” so you can’t repress or avoid anger and expect your other emotions to thrive. If we don’t learn to make friends with our anger, it can become destructive to other people and ourselves.
Anger can affect us physically in a range of ways, like increasing blood pressure, affecting acid in the stomach, causing headaches and contributing to lack of sleep. When we don’t express our anger outwardly, it becomes internalised and causes resentment. When we feel resentment, we must ask ourselves: What is making me angry? What need hasn’t been met? What boundary has been crossed? What am I not saying?
Once we take responsibility for our anger, we can deal with it in a number of healthy ways:
Take a time-out
Give yourself the time and space to deal with your anger in a healthy way. People can express anger through exercise, like kick-boxing or running. It’s about finding a safe activity that’s cathartic for you to let go. You can also try putting sound to your anger, it doesn’t have to be words, but letting out a sigh or a roar can really help to get the anger out of your system.
First of all, when we practice mindfulness and become aware of our breath, we start to become more aware of our emotions and can recognise anger before it boils over.
Mindfulness meditation also gives us that moment of space, and it allows us to interrupt our immediate reaction giving us the point of power in the here and now to take control of our emotions and not let them take control of us. The act of sitting and being mindful in itself lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, which has the knock-on effect of reducing anger too.
Talk to someone
It’s best to reach out earlier rather than later, even if you’re not quite sure where you’re feelings of resentment or anger are coming from. Usually, people only go to anger management therapy when there’s a “fire in their house” and they come until the “fire is out”. It’s the people who stick with therapy that get to do some renovation and work on themselves. If you’re in a safe space and can talk to someone, you can get to the root of your anger because you’re never really upset for the reason you think. Eventually, you’ll be able to let the anger go and move on.
Try the ABCD technique
The ABCD technique can help people explore their anger issues and overcome them in a therapy session.
A – Attention: Acknowledge your anger and the situation that is triggering you.
B – Belief: Ask yourself, “What do I believe has just happened?”
C – Challenge: Question your thinking, is what you believe to have happened true?
D – Discount: Notice the effect that anger is having on your system and look to lower it.
Approaching anger with a positive attitude
These are all tried and tested ways of remaining in control when anger strikes. The important thing to remember is that anger is a normal and necessary emotion that we all face and that it can be used constructively. The first step to channeling it in a positive way is accepting your anger and getting proactive about dealing with it. If you are still struggling with anger, consider talking with your doctor. They can put you in touch with a therapist who will identify any underlying issues and support you in putting these techniques in place.
This content is for information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek advice from your GP or an appropriate medical professional if you have concerns about your health, or before commencing a new healthcare regime. If you believe that you are experiencing a medical emergency call 999 / 112 or seek emergency assistance immediately.
Meet our Vhi Verified Expert
Martina Breen Vhi Health Coach
M.A. MIAHIP SIAHIP MICP MNSHC
Psychotherapist, Supervisor & Spiritual Director