On anger & its management

Anger is positive. It provides us with a vital boost when we need it, physical and mental.

When anger is just, it is appropriate response: lies, being embarrassed in front of others, betrayal, being abused, broken promises are situations of just anger. Basically, the anger is triggered by the intentional action of someone else.

Unjust anger includes: interpreting negatively a comment or action, assuming accidental event is caused purposefully, kids make noise, friend is late . In this case, the anger is triggered by your own hot cognitions and the accidental action of someone who did not want to upset you.

Whether the anger is just or unjust, expressing it  becomes a problem sometimes: when the anger occurs too frequently, is too intense, lasts too long, is directed at the wrong event/person and leads to aggression.

A person lying to you is no reason to yell at them. A person accidentally pushing your hot button is no reason to threaten them.

That’s when we need learn controlling the Anger.

It  is an emotion defined as impulse to attack, defend or protect as a response to PERCEIVED threat or challenge. It can be triggered by many things: insult, assault, injustice, unfairness, criticism, annoyance or verbal abuse.

It is also a very basic reaction to childlike feelings of abandonment, rejection, loss and hurt.

A basic need is not met.

As we get angry, a subtle chain of events occurs – which has nothing to do with ‘snapping’ and hence is fully controllable:

– an external trigger (an event known as provocation). This leads us to respond in an anger feedback loop: thoughts,  body responses and behavior. Each escalates our anger as each influences and reacts with the others;

– we interpret the trigger ; we have a thought or mental statement we make to ourselves; we basically appraise the situation and this then leads to feelings;

– we experience angry feelings about the situation based on our thoughts; next follows a typical arousal response;

-we experience an increased level of physical arousal: pounding heart, increased pulse, tightened gut. The body gets the message of anger;

-we finally enact the anger: screaming, slamming the door, leaving, etc.

we may be totally unaware of this chain of events.  Anger Management is about learning to identify, break down and  alter this sequence of events.

It also involves acknowledging that our responses and our going along with them is NOT someone’s else action nor event. Our responses are our own.  We frequently misinterpret how a provocation may not actually be a threat to our need.  Naturally, we sometimes interpret correctly too!!!!

Rule of thumb: whenever you think or say “s/he makes me feel angry”, then chances are you could find a more appropriate response to the provocation. Whenever you think or say “I am angry at this situation”, then chances are anger is ok; now the matter is to decide how to express it constructively.

Best strategy: time-out. Isolate yourself from the situation, calm down, come back after an hour or so, after doing something that discharge the tension in yourself. Advise all that you feel angry and that you’re going and coming back later. Engage in dialogue with the person afterwards, but only if they agree to it.  Wait from an hour to a few days, but, go back to discussing the situation. Don’t let it slip.

If the person still refuses to discuss the matter and is intent on letting it slip, this a warning signal that communication is breaking down: see conflict resolution/interpersonal skills/abuse blogs.

Author: Pascale Aline

Psychotherapist & Performance Coach, I specialize working with tools for self enhancement, growth, productivity and healing (Biofeedback, EMDR, Mindfulness training)

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