Do you have an anger management problem? Many people do and may not even realize it. That’s because it’s not just the “hotheads” who have anger management issues, but also those who never blow their top at all.
Anger: hazardous for health and relationships
When a person reacts angrily, violently or aggressively, it’s obvious that better anger management skills are needed. But suppressed anger also has its own way of seeping out: Turned against others, it can be the basis of passive aggressive behavior. Turned against oneself, it can be the cause of anxiety and depression.
Neither kind of anger is healthy – either bottling it up or blowing up. And it can destroy your relationships with friends and loved ones. Open, uncontrolled anger can also lead to physical or emotional abuse or even violent crimes, and suppressed anger can keep the individual from enjoying good communication and healthy relationships.
What’s more, suppressed anger can cause chronic health problems such as digestive problems, high blood pressure, headaches, skin problems and even heart problems. Women are especially prone to suppressed anger.
But anger can be a positive emotion – if you respond to it in a healthy way. Anger can encourage you to speak up about situations that are bothering you. But expressing that anger too much or too little, or in the wrong way, can destroy your relationships and your own health.
Practice better anger management
To effectively manage your anger in a healthy way, try these tips:
- Take three deep breaths to help your body relax, release tension and calm down before you speak to the other person.
- Assert yourself without aggression. You can state that you feel angry, but calmly explain why you feel upset instead of going on the attack.
- Avoid making generalizations or starting with accusatory phrases such as “You always…” or “You never…”
- Don’t bring past disputes into the current disagreement.
- Use active listening – let the other person tell his or her side of the story. Allow for the possibility that the other person didn’t intend to upset or anger you.
- Understand the factors that can put you into a more irritable and angry state of mind – such as being tired, sick, or in pain, or using alcohol or drugs. Other stressors in your life might also make you more likely to snap.
- Decide on some positive statements to say to yourself when you need to calm down, such as “I can choose how I react” and “I am able to make good choices.”
- Find the humor in the situation. Unless the scene has already become too confrontational, a good laugh can help defuse the anger and tension for both parties.
So don’t swallow your anger, and don’t fly into a rage over every disagreement. Both extremes are unhealthy. Practice the above anger management techniques to improve your health and relationships. And if you still feel that your anger problem is too difficult to control, don’t hesitate to get help.