Anger is an emotion many people fear because they haven’t learned effective ways to control it. Experiencing anger is a healthy sign and a normal part of living. Six simple steps can be used to learn to express anger constructively.
Be aware of your emotions. Is anger masking some other feeling? Fear? Self-pity? Admit your feelings, even if only to yourself. Some people find keeping a written journal helpful. Own your feelings. They are yours, and it’s okay to feel as you do. Accept responsibility for your feelings. Investigate your feelings. Are they based on reality? Is there some aspect of the situation or environment that might be changed to lessen your anger? Match what you are experiencing to what you are saying. A discrepancy between what you say and feel brings confusion, especially to relationships, resulting in a breakdown in communications. Integrate your emotions, intellect and will to grow as a person. You can choose to focus on anger, bitterness and frustration. Or, you can try to put these negative emotions aside and get on with life.
If you to feel angry, try taking a slow, deep breath. It really does help to count to ten. Breathe deeply. Instead of counting, try repeating a calm word or phrase, such as relax. Repeat it to yourself while you breathe deeply and let the moment of anger pass.
Expressing anger is always better than repressing it, but only if you can express it in a safe and appropriate manner. Outbursts are damaging to yourself and relationships with others. Never allow a child to be the target of an angry outburst. If you think you may lose your temper in an outburst, remove yourself from the room or situation immediately.
Assertiveness is a healthy way to express anger. Learn to express your feelings calmly and directly without becoming defensive, hostile or emotionally charged. Focus on your needs, rather than emotions.
Keep a log of your emotions and the situations which provoke anger. When you learn to recognize what causes anger, you can develop a coping plan to modify the situation or your response to it.
Seek support from others. Talk through your feelings, but only with someone you can trust, and who can help you make changes to work through your anger.
Learn to laugh at yourself and your situation. Laughter not only diffuses anger but also releases endorphins, a powerful chemical in the brain that brings a sense of calm.
Get physical. Work out your anger kneading bread dough, cleaning the house, washing the car, playing a match of tennis, walking, riding a bike, swimming, anything that gets you moving and burns energy. Exercise also releases endorphins.
Listen. Effective listening skills improve communications, rapport and trust.
Anger can be a healthy emotion when it brings into focus areas of life where changes need to be made, or when it provides the energy to make those changes. Harness your anger to make it work for you.