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How do you react when you get angry – in an unhealthy way or in a healthy way? An unhealthy way of dealing with your anger is to suppress it by holding in, ignoring, or denying your anger. Manipulation, resistance, withholding, or avoidance are also unhealthy ways of communicating your anger in an indirect and passive-aggressive manner. When you express anger in a calming, healthy way, you are communicating your experiences to another person in such a way that you are owning the experience as your own and still leaving room for others to have their own experiences. Here are some practical ways to help you reach calm in situations which can cause an angry response.
Anger is a secondary emotion. A practical way of calming your anger is to look at what you are thinking when you get angry. Ask yourself questions about your anger.
Is an assumption you are making causing your anger? On the other hand, is your interpretation of others’ actions the source of your anger? Have you discussed your assumption or interpretation about other’s intentions or motivations before getting angry? Have you taken a moment to understand and to acknowledge your assumptions? Have you stopped and taken the time to challenge your assumptions and interpretations? Ask yourself if there is any other possible reason for the other person’s behavior. Try not to react to the assumptions you thought were right; if possible, talk with the other person about what you are thinking. Talking about the situation with the other person is a meaningful tool in helping you manage your anger reactions.
Can you identify the feelings that underlie your anger? Are you tired, hungry, or under stress at work? Have you let these feelings, emotions, and stress affect your reaction? Have you told the other person how you are feeling? Do you know how to express your feelings to others? The list of aspects of life that can make us irritable and quick tempered is very long. Having a strong understanding of how your feelings play into your anger will help you have a better understanding of when your buttons are being pushed.
Past hurts and emotions are another source of anger. Past hurts, that you have not let go, can be triggers that magnify your anger reaction. Forgiveness is necessary to retire past hurts. Do you find forgiveness difficult? Forgiving someone does not mean that you are saying that what that person did was okay; rather, forgiveness means you are refusing to continue to carry the weight and pain of that hurt around with you. When you forgive and let go of resentment you give yourself relief from your own pain, on your own terms, and you refuse to let the pain affect your life.
Humor, especially silly and creative humor, is also a way to reduce emotions when you find yourself moving to anger. Anger can cause you to feel righteous indignation and to become adamantly assured of your rightness. Try creating an extreme image of yourself; picture yourself as ruler of the universe in a crown and robes. Think about this picture when you find yourself moving to anger. Make yourself laugh to gain a non-angry perspective.
Another very simple way of dealing with anger is to take a deep breath. Take a moment before you allow your anger to take control. Another idea is to take a walk. Exercise can help you release pent up energy or as the saying goes, to blow off steam. Remember the goal is to move to a place where you can handle the situation in a more reasoned, less reactive way.
Again, keep in mind that managing your anger first means managing your level of emotions to allow you to better understand what your anger is trying to tell you. Give yourself time to know what part of the situation to address in a healthy, direct manner that is respectful to all everyone involved.