Updated: Jul 18
Anger, though infamous as a negative emotion is in fact a natural defense mechanism against threats. It is the absence of control over it that makes it inimical in essence. It is one of the most powerful forces of nature handed over to almost all the living beings as a weapon against any threats to their survival, it helps the being perk up in aggression against the impending threat, a form of body language which communicates equal threat back to the instigator as if warning of the consequences of his act.
Expressing anger is strictly meant to be done only, and only as a mechanism of defense, and not offence is evident from the behavior of other creations of nature; like the animals. Animals use rage only, and only under a perceived threat, or when they need to hunt as in case of carnivores. Unlike humans animals have never been found to exhibit temper in other than these two situations. Humans, on the other hand can experience a spectrum of emotions which can have a motley of shades of multiple negative emotions like jealousy, stress, depression, ego etc. Stress can even be fatal at times.
Getting angry has been a part of the evolution of the man kind as a species; the fight part of the famous fight or flight response, essential to its survival, in the face of an external threat is fueled by the up welling emotion of anger; fear is responsible for the flight part though. Anger is nothing but an uncontrolled explosion of disharmonious, misdirected prana. Since anger is a pretty potent force - energy, prana -, if channelized in the right direction it can be stripped off its negative aspects and put to more constructive uses. Traces of it are essential to remain motivated towards one's goals or to come out of an unpleasant situations one has landed into.
History has undergone the vagaries of change multiple times at multiple locations, and transformation only because the slowly seething rage against injustice, and the need to grow was alight within the inhabitants of those regions. Regulated, controlled anger can help add the necessary punch to one's point to which the targeted individual wasn't lending an ear. A number of times partners in a relationship have admitted to understanding the other person better only after he, or she has exhibited the aggressive side of their personality.
Assertive communication, so very advocated for the successful transfer of intent from one person to another has a dash of anger underlying its impact; one feels the need for being assertive when has to use force - aggression - as a convincing tool. Psychologists have found that anger can increase the sense of personal control in an individual. All these rewards can only be reaped by someone who is trained into the art of expressing anger in a more constructive, and controlled way. Now the natural, significant question that arises is, how to manage anger?
How to Control Anger? The Two ways
This perfectly normal biological response - anger - becomes a problem for only those who either are unable to control it, or suffer from its persistent bouts over a period of time. It is more like using a kitchen knife; the outcome depends on how it is handled or used, it can kill or become an aid in cooking a delicious meal. One is born with this powerful instinct, but one needs to train oneself on handling it the right way in order to turn it in to a beneficial asset.
People are inherently programmed to vent their anger in either of the two ways: explode it out on someone or an object; or implode it within themselves. Explosive way of expressing anger involves directing one's aggression on an external being or an object which may translate into a yell, scream, a punch , or a shove. Once the trigger , out of the many possible, has set in no amount of anger management tips known to the person possessed of anger can prevent him from from banging a door, hurling a book across the room, or pounding a desk as an external expression of rage. Office rage, road rage, communal clashes, acts of terrorism are all examples of explosive anger from modern society.
Explosive anger carries a clear intent to incur damage to an object, or being of the external environment in order to relieve the bearer of its weight. Imploding the anger within one self is like directing the trajectory of a destructive missile on to one's own self. It is like putting a lid on the simmering amber within oneself and believing that the fire is under control. Modern psychologists are not unanimous on which of the two methods - explosive, or implosive - is the right answer to the very pertinent question, how to manage anger issues the healthy way? Studies have found that directing one's anger outside doesn't relieve one of the accompanying stress but adds more tension to the body.
Up till not long ago some experts on anger management used to believe in the statement, get it off your chest. The methods suggested by them for achieving it like punching a bag or pillow to vent the seething aggression have been found to aggravate the aggressive behavior by modern researchers on the techniques of anger management. On the other hand suppressing anger can metamorphose into anxiety, stress ( stress can be fatal sometimes) and depression. Suppressing , or imploding anger within oneself has been found to have a link to a kind of pathological behavior, the passive aggressive behavior where the afflicted person expresses anger as a feeling of annoyance for not following the rules, for keeping others waiting for an event, or by withdrawing socially, or for going silent where vocal expression was necessary.
Incorrectly handled anger can affect relationships, thought processes, and the general behavior of the one possessed with it. Irrespective of its intensity sporadic occurrence of the bouts of anger are not a serious threat to the general health of the person, chronic anger which surfaces repeatedly a number of times, over a short span at the drop of a hat is the type which is dangerous to one's health. Chronic anger is more dangerous as it generally has its roots into unresolved issues which remain concealed, or undetected up till a trained eye identifies, and uproots them for good.
The hurt and anguish from these unresolved issues keep festering within oneself, it just needs a mild, even unrelated, stimulus to set the ticking time bomb off on who ever, whatever is in front of oneself. Chronic anger problem if left concealed can lead to domestic violence, workplace performance and relationship issues, addiction and even ending of relationships. Additionally, in case serious anger management is kept waiting, it can damage the heart in all ways possible: fatal heart attack, coronary heart disease, arrhythmia, hypertension and disorders of the respiratory system. let us first begin by learning how to manage non chronic type of anger problem.
How to Control Your Anger?
If neither expressing anger, nor suppressing it are good for one's health than the best answer to the question, how to control your anger? is to express it , for sure in order to expunge the body & the mind of the poison, in a healthy way. Anger management is clearly an experiential concept, no amount of just attending anger management classes, or reading anger management books can rid one of this malaise. The techniques being explained here need to be sincerely, persistently performed in person up till one is completely cleansed of rage.
Apart from being one of the feelings, anger is also a state of physiological arousal : the hormones being released by the adrenal glands tense the body up in preparation for the fight response against the stimulus, the body is full of emotional energy, the degree of alertness ups, heart begins to race spiking up the blood pressure, pupils dilate, and sweat appears on the face. Such conditions are not conducive to using any of the techniques of anger management as reason, and rationale the two arms of a successful anger management program are missing here.
Thus, first calm down from inside. In fact the first thing the anger management therapy with yoga or the yoga for helping manage anger, does is it calms the mind and the body down, conditioning the mind to think rationally. The moment one calms down from inside the physiological symptoms of the state of arousal subside. Thus, anger management exercise is a three stage process: first quell the arousal; second evaluate whether the situation really deserve your outburst; third, express your anger in a healthy, constructive way.
How to Reduce Anger? Stage 1: Quell the Arousal
Here are listed some of the calming techniques the success of which has been tested time and again. To start with one must train oneself on becoming aware of the state of anger the moment it sets inside oneself. Practice recognizing the signs and symptoms of the beginning of the boil inside oneself. This will not happen immediately, first recognize the existence of anger as a problem which one needs to get rid off. Then persist with the will to study, recognize the onset of the feeling of anger every time it arrests one's psyche. As the awareness of this affliction begins to sink in, start with practicing the simple techniques listed out here.
As you become aware of the boiling rage inside yourself mentally count to 10 before reacting to the trigger; say something or take an action. Every body seems to know this techniques very well but rarely put it to use, the reason for this is that the unbridled angry reaction bursts out within a fraction of a second, leaving no time gap to think or count, due to the lack of awareness that anger has already set in. Mentally counting till 10 helps by creating a time space between the trigger and the reaction that snaps out. The time space as created before the reaction works as mental breaks where one gets that little moment to think, analyse and reflect over before one responds which can help diffuse the rage.
The time you take to count till 10, or you can slowly increase it to 20, 30 as you gain more control over the technique also helps by dowsing off the physiological arousal. As you begin to master this technique add deep abdominal breathing with the counting, the abdomen flows outwards with each inhalation and is sucked in towards the spine on each exhalation. Make sure that you count slowly, pace each count a second apart. This technique, on its own, has been found to be very effective by people looking for answers to queries on how to manage anger and stress? or how to manage anger at work?
Another way of applying brakes on the arousal part is by repeating a word or phrase that has a calming effect over the nerves: " Cool down", " Relax". or " Shaanti". You can try extending the pronunciation of the calming word like "R-e-l-a-x", in case it works better for you. Another way of handling this is by physically disconnecting from the situation which is instigating a angry reaction from you. The moment you feel that the overwhelming rage has incapacitated you for using counting till 10 technique walk away from the location, situation by excusing yourself, telling the other person that you are too angry too talk right now, and will return in a while to proceed on this.
Never walk away in silence a this will make the other person angry at you for not listening or disrespecting his point or presence. Calm the arousal while you are away by taking a walk, calling someone you like talking to, playing music, meditating ( only if you are used to it), relaxing under a warm shower or if possible sleeping over the issue for a night in the hope to wake up the next morning with different perspective on it. Meditation along with its other benefits habituates the mind to take a pause at will and focus - concentration - on something more positive. One can even try visual imagery, but imagining yourself in a serene environment immediately after a car has knocked you off your bike may be a bit challenging for mot of us. Visual imagery work better for milder tensions, and irritations though.
How to Manage Anger Outbursts? Stage 2: Analyse
Once the mind has calmed down after stage 1 of anger management , one has the time to look at the situation instigating anger from a more analytical angle. A major cause of anger is when one of our primary needs isn't met or is under threat. Instinctively we all crave that others care for us, we long for feeling secure, important, successful, & accepted. We also need fairness, justice, loyalty and trust around us in order to feel live and positive. Anything that seemingly scuttles any of these wants, needs evoke a angry response from us.
Utilize the time gap received after diffusing the initial arousal state by trying to find out the need from among the mentioned that is under threat due to the situation in face at that time. Someone failing you on a promise made will up the red flags on the needs for justice, fairness, and support from others. Not only figure this out but , if time permits then immediately or later write it down. Writing down can help one recognize any pattern if present in your behavior related to anger. Many times majority of angry outburst fall under the feeling of inadequacy on your part when your colleagues do not agree to, or put your opinions down on almost everything.
Failing to identify the real trigger of anger can end up leaving you feeling remorseful in the aftermath, placing the reason in the right perspective is important to avoid feeling miserable afterwards. Ones the covert, or overt reason for the same is clear ask yourself these three questions in the same sequence. Does the issue at hand really matter, and does it matters now? Most of the times the significance or urgency of the issue melts off right after stage one, of calming down, as now can look at the same situation from a distance than before. learn to prioritize issues and task in order to better understand their relevance at the given moment. Do not get entangled in a road site spat while on your way to your dream job interview, however tempting, or instigating it appears.
In case the issue at hand is really significant, and needs immediate attention move on to the second question you need to ask yourself: is my anger justified? Try to empathize with the object of your rage, step into their shoes and look at the genuineness of their action, or words which have hurt you. If you feel that the issue at hand calls for understanding than an abuse the matters end their itself. Experience in dealing with different personality types comes handy while trying to look at the situation from other's angle.
Still if the situation justifies your anger move on to the third question: Will Anger help? A lot many times the situations causing you anger are not in your control; a delayed flight, or a slow computer. Ask yourself whether getting angry in such situations can actually help anybody. Giving in to your instincts in such situation will end up disturbing your mental health. People habituated to reacting to anything aggressively, without a thought, are prone to serious health problems any time. After walking through all the three question in case expressing anger is still necessary, you have arrived at the last and 3rd stage of anger management.
Anger Management Tips, Stage 3: Constructive Response
Expressing anger means putting across your feeling to the other person in an assertive , and not aggressive manner. Be open with admitting that you are angry and why you are angry. Weed the element of blame or disrespectful attack while conveying the message in a clam manner. Use more of "I" statements then " you" statement in your language. For instance instead of saying, " how can you be such an idiot in doing that", say " I FEEL angry WHEN you miss out on certain facts before undertaking a new task" BECAUSE it given me an impression that you are not serious about your work. Use this FEEL-WHEN-BECAUSE format for framing your statements. Then follow up with a statement of the change you think will rectify the wrong done now and prevent your feeling bad about it in the future. " I would want you to pay attention to all the details before taking up the task".
Show respect by actively listening to the other persons response on your statement, and try to absorb his/ her point of view. Stress on understanding and not just on whether you have been understood or not. Learn to view different opinions as a natural outcome of a healthy debate. Use a calm voice, respectful words, and a gentle touch at the shoulder can convey that inspite of the issue at hand you still care for the other person. Such an expressing of anger can heal hearts and encourage trust and intimacy.
Anger is one of the natural feelings humans are capable of experiencing as a defense response to external threats. The motivation, and drive inherent in its energy is capable of transforming under performers into stark achievers. We don't need to conquer anger as a positive force behind life, but need to learn how to manage, and direct it towards creating positivity, bonding, and growth. The various techniques of anger management available today can help one put his/ her anger to the more constructive use.