by Mike McKeown
Everybody feels anger at different times, and on different levels. Feelings of anger can happen for different reasons. Enduring unjust treatment, being blamed for things you didn’t do, listening to criticism, or just not getting what you want are a few possible triggers. Let’s face it, our society is full of things that can trigger feelings of anger. This can range from being mildly annoyed or frustrated all the way up to rage. Often people will give it another name because they don’t want to admit to an anger or rage issue. Irritation, wrath, frustration, rage — it goes by a variety of different names but they are all the same thing. No matter what name you give it, anger is a powerful emotion. Unfortunately, it’s most often not a very helpful one.
Even though there are everyday triggers that can cause anger issues or feelings and everyone feels anger, it’s still something that can harm you if it’s out of control or happening too often.
Like other things we’ve discuess in the past, anger itself is neither good nor bad. We have mentioned before that these emotions (anxiety, grief, fear, etc.) send you a message to tell you that something is wrong or threatening in your life. We have them for a reason. They are alerts that you need to handle something. But if your initial reaction is to explode, then that message never has a chance to be conveyed so you can’t really do anything with it.
In short, anger becomes a problem when you express it in such a way that you can harm yourself or others.
One of the things I most often hear in counseling is that people who have a temper are under the impression that it’s out of their control. Most of them honestly believe there’s nothing they can do to tame the beast. The reality is that even in these cases, people have more control than they think.
I’m here to tell you that it is completely possible for people to learn how to control their tempers and respond as opposed to react.
Is your anger covering up other feelings like embarrassment, insecurity, shame, or guilt?
If your immediate reaction in any given situations is anger, then your temper is most likely disguising your true feelings. This is especially the case if you grew up in a family where sharing feelings was frowned upon. If anger is your go-to reaction, you may find it difficult to figure out what the core foundation of those feelings actually is.
What is Anger Management?
When I discuss methods on how to control temper, it’s not unusual for people to think it’s about suppressing that anger. The reality is that never getting angry isn’t good either. As I said earlier, anger is normal, and it will happen no matter how hard you try to stop it. If your main goal is suppression, then all you do is bury it or press it down. At this point, it’s almost a guarantee that it will come out again later and it’s likely that it will be during a rage, rant, or explosion. No one wants this to happen.
The real goal of anger management is to understand the message that anger is sending you. Then once you’ve done that, you can figure out what you need to do with that anger. Anger management teaches and trains someone how to express that anger in a healthy manner. In short, it means that you are in control of your emotion rather than the other way around. When someone is able to do that, it can have a ripple effect on the rest of their life. Once you learn to manage your anger, you’ll be able to manage conflict and stressors in your life. This, in turn, can strengthen your relationships.
Managing anger takes work, but, like anything, the more you work at it the easier it will get.
I should note here that anger may also be a symptom of other health problems, such as depression, or chronic stress. If you are experiencing anger, rage, or other issues with your temper, it’s good to talk to your doctor or a professional to make sure you treat it appropriately.
You can’t ever completely eliminate angry feelings but you can learn to lessen the impact they have on your life. Next week we’ll look at how to better understand our anger and learn some ways to manage angry feelings.