In this post, I want to share some ideas with you around dealing with anger. Why? Because right now a lot of people are experiencing all sorts of emotions while under lockdown. And many people are struggling to effectively cope with how they are feeling at the moment. This typically results in increased levels of frustration, anxiety, stress, and anger. So, let me share with you a few top techniques to help you deal successfully with being angry.
Firstly, many of the same techniques I’m about to share with you on dealing with anger also apply to many other emotions.
The underlying principles are essentially the same.
You might have to adjust a few practicalities in your approach but dealing with emotions as a rule rely on the same fundamentals.
When we’re talking about dealing with anger, it’s firstly important to understand that we all get angry.
It’s a normal human response.
I made a couple of comments on social media this morning where I said that no emotion is inherently good or bad.
We sometimes treat emotions as if some of good and some are bad.
For example, it is good to feel happy, but it is bad if you angry.
But that’s not the case in my opinion.
All humans emotion has a function.
They all play a role.
And they all communicate something.
Feeling anger (and any other emotion) is more a question of effectiveness or ineffectiveness as it relates to the situation or circumstances is experienced in.
It’s not a question of good or bad.
It is a question of whether what I’m feeling right now is actually effective or ineffective in relation to the result or outcome I’m trying to create in that situation.
Once we understand that and we let go of any potential self-chastising, we can then start asking even better questions.
For example, why am I feeling this way?
What is the reason behind feeling anger?
Now, when it comes to dealing with anger, there is usually a very specific underlying mental structure.
We can call it certain mental mechanics being at work.
Anger tends to happen as a reaction when we feel that somebody behaves or if something is happening in a way that violates our “inner rules” or standards.
So, dealing with anger is really an issue of identifying and assessing the appropriateness and validity of our inner rules and standards.
You might also call them unconscious or unspoken expectations.
The problem with inner rules or standards is that they are unique to you.
Other people don’t necessarily share them.
And that can cause some major differences and disagreements.
For example, if I hold a certain belief about how someone should behave in a certain situation, but the other person holds another believe that contradicts mine, we can potentially lock horns over what’s appropriate and what’s not.
And both could be right.
But again, the issue isn’t who is more right in this instance, but rather a question of whether being inflexible and maintaining a certain inner rule or standard actually serves that moment or not.
Now, just to be clear, anger is just another emotion.
It can also do a lot of good.
For example, anger can be a trigger to motivate you to resolve a troubling situation.
Getting angry with your spouse can force issues to the surface so you can find a solution.
Anger has also led to the development of many charitable organisations.
Anger isn’t always a “bad” thing.
That extra energy and motivation can be put to good use.
The same with many other emotions.
Emotions are essentially effective or ineffective as it relates to the particular situation.
I mean, it would be equally ineffective to feel happy about knowing that a child is being abused as it is to get angry and lose your head over a child spilling milk.
Happiness has its place, and so does anger.
But it’s about whether feeling a certain emotion is the most effective or ineffective emotion to entertain and experience in a particular situation.
Because anger, for example, can also lead you to do something that creates even greater problems.
We all know that anger, in particular, has the potential to create a tremendous amount of harm if left unchecked.
So, learning how to deal with anger is a good thing.
I think that’s an effective and reasonable response to an existing reality for us all.
All of us, at some point, will experience a spell of anger for whatever reason.
It just so happens that during this current lockdown, a lot of people seem to be more vulnerable to be triggered because of the current situation.
Therefore, learning new, more constructive ways to deal with your anger can improve your life tremendously, moving forward.
The best way to handle your anger depends on how you deal with it now:
Firstly, if you suppress anger, try to recognise when you’re suppressing angry feelings.
Burying your anger long-term is rarely a good idea, as it can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, and passive-aggressive behaviour.
Moreover, suppressing anger tends to intensify it over time.
It’s the proverbial ticking time bomb.
So, it’s important to recognise when you’re busy suppressing any anger and have some strategies in place to deal with it in the present as much as possible.
Now, I’m not talking about exploding or erupting when triggered, but having some strategy in place that you can do safely, appropriately, effectively, and without the possibility of further intensifying or harming the situation.
One example would be venting anger in private.
Venting your anger in private can help you feel a sense of control without harming anyone else.
But this should only be considered a temporary solution since you’re not addressing the situation that fueled your anger, which means it is most likely to happen again in the future.
So, it has to be addressed at some point.
What you are doing, however, is just defusing your anger so you don’t magnify the situation.
This is essentially about buying yourself some time without furthering the damage.
Now, in order to do this, you must develop a very particular skill.
And this will be easier for something for others, but it is important, nonetheless.
In dealing with anger, the most important skill to develop is assertiveness.
Why is this an important skill to learn?
Because it will be challenging to express your feelings in a loaded situation if that isn’t normal for you.
Consequently, if you’re unable to assert yourself and express yourself clearly, the only alternative you’re left with is an emotional eruption.
It is important to learn to let others know in a constructive way when they’ve upset you.
Or to leave you alone.
Or give you some space.
Or give you a moment.
You can start with smaller things initially and move on to bigger things as it becomes easier for you to express yourself.
Now, I understand that learning the skill of assertiveness can be a challenge for a lot of people, especially men.
And especially in the context of a relationship.
But it is crucial, nonetheless.
Secondly, if you dump your anger aggressively, challenge your unrealistic thinking.
As I said earlier, anger and by extension, aggressive behaviour, are commonly fueled by certain inner rules, standards, or unrealistic expectations being violated.
So, what it means is, I have a certain mental construct of how things should be, but when that construct is violated or breached, I feel attacked, disrespected, personally violated, unimportant, and so on.
Consequently, I typically react angrily in an attempt to restore the equilibrium (which only exists in my mind).
But here’s the thing, people aren’t going to treat you fairly 100% of the time.
People aren’t going adhere to your model of the world and how things should and should not be.
Your children aren’t going to listen to you 100% of the time.
Your spouse won’t always give you the attention you desire or always agree with your point of view.
That is part of life.
And in this instance, you really only have one of two choices.
One, you can accept it and realise that you’re making assumptions when you have unrealistic expectations or very rigid inner rules and standards and that the behaviour of others isn’t always about you. It’s just how they see the world.
Or two, you can ignore all of that and continue insisting that the world bends to your will and everyone adhere to your inner rules and standards. The issue with that, however, is that you will be perpetually unhappy, frustrated, angry, and joyless.
In my opinion, it is better to learn how to:
- replace your unreasonable expectations with different thoughts,
- seek alternate explanations for someone’s actions when you find yourself becoming angry, and
- learn to pause and think before you act.
Because if you’re a “dumper”, you’re probably like a bull in a china shop, wreaking havoc without any thought about what you’re doing.
Rather learn to count to ten, take a deep breath, speak carefully and assertively, and remove yourself from the situation to go and calm down.
That is true power in my opinion – maintaining control over yourself when it’s most difficult.
Dealing with anger oftentimes also comes down to prevention more than cure.
You can often prevent situations that tend to trigger anger in you, by making different decisions prematurely.
Do what you can to avoid issues before they get started.
If there are people, places, or situations that seem to trigger angry feelings in you, attempt to minimise your exposure to those triggers.
Not only is that logical, but also pretty effective.
Just know, however, that it is not always possible to avoid all situations that typically trigger anger in you.
Sometimes, due to the nature of life, you’re gonna find yourself in situations and around people that have the potential to trigger certain things in you.
So, in saying that, understand that dealing with anger is a part of life.
Listen, I want to leave you with another thought.
Just because you might have learned unhealthy ways of dealing anger doesn’t preclude the possibility of learning new strategies.
You can learn new strategies for dealing with anger and any other potentially unhelpful emotions you might be experiencing frequently.
It might require some work, but it can be done.
I would also say that if you’ve expressed your anger physically and violently in the past, or still do, it would probably be a good idea to get professional help.
You certainly don’t want someone to get hurt because you couldn’t control your anger.
It is almost never worth it.
So, practice these strategies, get the help you need, and move forward with your life.
You’ll be glad you did.