There is a famous short story for kids on anger management. There was a short-tempered boy. His father wanted to make him understand the repercussions of anger. He gives him a bag of nails and tells him, whenever he feels angry at anything, he is supposed to hammer one nail into the fence. So, he did. Gradually, the number of nails hammered started reducing. The whole process of hammering was too tedious for him, and in turn, he got angry as less as possible. Soon the day came when he didn't get angry at all. Now, his father tells him to pull one nail every day that he doesn't get angry. And then one day the fence was completely nail-free. At this, the father brings his son and shows him the condition of the fence. Nails were removed, but still, there were holes in its place. The fence was ruined.
That's the thing about anger; it might end up leaving scars that can never heal. Now anger in itself is not a mental disorder, but it can easily disrupt our lives. It can also indicate the presence of an underlying condition like depression or alcoholism.
Anger is an antagonistic emotion towards a person, or a situation resulted when you feel like you are unfairly treated, or the things are not going according to you. However, the emotion itself is not a villain and can be of a lot of significance if appropriately managed. It can help us understand your deep-held expectations and beliefs. It can also help you understand the difference of opinion between you and the other person and exactly how deep these opinions are rooted. It can even motivate you to do something to rectify the situation that bothers you. In other words, the emotion of anger can be linked to self-preservation.
It can become harmful for you and others when goes out of control. The reaction to such situation can be a spectrum, and has also been identified into six dimensions and may consist of passive (like obsessive behaviour), aggressive (like violence) and assertive (like doling out punishment). These effects of an angry reaction can be short term or long term.
Let's look at a few tips that might be able to help you with anger management.
Become Aware of Yourself
During the earlier times, people used to believe that emotions are an elusive thing, something that goes on inside our head. But now we know for a fact that every emotion is caused by certain chemicals in our body whenever triggered. Like happiness is linked to increased levels of oxytocin and dopamine like hormones, anger is linked to increased levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline. Anger (or such hormones) can affect body parts like heart, brain and muscles which in turn will lead to physical effects like- increase in heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tensions, jaw or hands clenching, pounding heart, clammy, even tingling sensation.
It can also lead to a change in body language and facial expressions. In comparison, emotional symptoms may include- irritability, anxiety, frustration, stress and even guilt.
Now, psychologists believe anger can also lead to loss of self-monitoring capacity, i.e., the person won't be able to see his actions or surroundings objectively. This makes it difficult for us to become aware of ourself. So, what you can start with is take a few deep breaths, giving you some time to get a hold of yourself and become aware of your surrounding.
Disengage From the Situation
Take a time-out and get some fresh air. It will help if you get away from the situation or the person to which your anger is directed. The separation is only until you gain back your unclouded perception and can react to the situation more wisely.
Try to Calm Yourself
Calm yourself by focusing all your attention to your senses, to your body. What sensations are going through the body- may be your face feels hot, you can feel raised heartbeat, or you might feel a lump building in your throat. Become aware of it, all of it. This is the second part of disengaging- when you become aware of your body; you are no longer a participant but more of an observer.
Now inject new sensations like normalise your breathing, maybe try massaging your forehead and focus on the sensations. Or do something that easily cools you down- music or journaling. You can talk to yourself and chant relaxing words. You can try to replace the remnants of anger by positive feelings by using humour or fun or trying to remember pleasant things from your past.
Try to Find the Source of Anger
This is the most important step to resolve your deep-rooted issues for the long term.
Once you are calm enough, try to think clearly. Try to search deep within you what is it that makes you angry. Is it the words used by the person or his actions or maybe it is not at all about the current event and something in the past? It might be related to your expectations. If yes, then, are they unrealistic?
And it is possible that the answer you come up with during this introspection might not be all that calming. It can even be revolting.
All of us are stuck in this construction phase, where we are constantly trying to make peace with our actual self and the perceived ideal one. So, if you realise the real source behind your anger shouldn't deserve this, but still, somehow you just can't let the anger go. That's fine.
Talk About It
Express why you feel angry. You can have a calm conversation with the person who might be a part of the source. Choose your words carefully. When we are angry and frustrated, we want to express it in a way that another person understands the entire gravity of the situation and in doing so, we always tend to hit below the belt, so they too feel exactly what you do. It's a twisted way of expression but completely natural. And it generally leads to long life regrets- things you shouldn't have uttered. Hence, you need to be calm enough so you can choose exactly what you want the person to know, something that will diffuse the situation and make yourself understood and not lead to more explosion.
Or you can talk to someone else who is close to you and won't judge you. If it is something too tricky, you might want to take help of a professional.
Be Compassionate and Forgiving
Try to understand that every person is different because of reasons which might not be under their control. If they have been hurtful to you, it might be because they grew up subconsciously to become an insensitive person or are not self-aware enough of their actions and its effects. Either way, forgive them.
Try to understand the real reason why they did what they did. You might even end up feeling sympathetic for them. And if you can't just accept the differences, if differences are too much, both should let go and move on.
Do Self Improvement Work
If the sources you zeroed on were more personal and intimate, then you need to work on yourself. It might entail some physical or mental exercises. You need to try meditative practices to be more grounded and not sway with your emotions. Take help from multiple resources present around you.
As I mentioned, earlier anger can be caused by an underlying psychological issue or past trauma. So, if you feel like it is getting out of your hand, and you alone can't handle your anger, you might want to get yourself into an anger management therapy. These classes involve discussions and role-playing, which can help you see the situation as a third person, and this can lead to gain of a new understanding. It also involves cognitive behavioural therapy and relaxation strategies.
And always remember you are not weak or emotionally incompetent if you ask for such help. There are many successful people, good people who got carried away in a moment of rage and are trying to work on it.
Treat your mind as the most hardened entity which has developed over the years after absorbing good as well as bad, consciously and subconsciously. And it requires continuous conscious efforts to do away some of its not so good aspects. Take care of yourself and start constructing your life and your mind deliberately. After all, anger is a double-edged sword and can do much more damage to your own health and peace.
Co-author: Shreya Arya
A digital marketing enthusiast with experience in HR and hospital management, Shreya has wide interests ranging from philosophy, psychology to latest trends in automation. She is also a freelance content writer and loves lending beautiful words to ideas and feelings.