Managing Anger Constructively
Emotions like anger do not just go away on their own. We can no more stop feeling angry than we can stop feeling love or affection. Some people turn anger against themselves by eating or drinking, some people turn it against others verbally or physically, and some people bury it inside. It’s not the anger itself that’s a problem, but the inability to deal with it effectively and constructively.
When we are unable to process our anger in healthy ways it can affect us physically. Becoming violent can damage our bodies with cuts and bruises. When stuffed down and buried inside, anger can manifest as migraine headaches, depression, and sexual dysfunction.
Whether we pour out abuse and pain on others, or turn the anger inwards and punish ourselves, the end result is the same... inner conflict and difficulty with intimate relationships. Anger happens in us when we notice a gap between what we want or need from the world or someone we care about, and what we are getting.
So how do we close that gap in a healthy and effective way? Building self-awareness skills allows us to take back control. What are you eating? What are you drinking? Poor diet and alcohol consumption are factors that can increase aggression. Who do you surround yourself with? Aggressive people can have an influence on the way that you handle your emotions. How do you talk to others? It’s best to avoid blaming statements such as “YOU make me mad!” What is your style of anger? Get to know your pattern!
With self-awareness we can build relaxation skills that work for us. Exercise, for one, is a great way to relieve tension; however, it is not the whole answer. Cool-downs can be a tool to prevent you from doing or saying things you’ll regret later. Plan ways that you can reward yourself for expressing anger in the way that you desire to.
It matters little whether others are to blame or whether or not we feel we have a right to be angry. What is important is what stuffed, buried, or explosive anger does to you. Emotional growth is more important than who wins.