By: Danielle Bertini, LPC

I want to premise this article by stating that anger is not necessarily a “bad” emotion. No emotions are inherently “bad.” We all get angry at times! We’re human. Anger is there for a reason. However, some people are more prone to rage more often than others. And sometimes we need a bit of help in handling it. One of the issues that can come with the emotion of anger is that we can sometimes make choices when we’re angry that come back to haunt us. There are ways to feel anger while also not letting it control the way you make decisions. Bonior (2014) offers seven tips on this topic: 

  • Own It. First off, pretending you’re not angry does no good for you or your blood pressure. There is a misconception that acknowledging your anger means you’re acting wrongly on it. This is just not true. Admitting that you’re upset, whether that is to yourself, or (calmly) to the person you are in disagreement with, can validate your feelings. When your feelings become validated, you can then feel empowered toward working towards a solution. You don’t need to be in conflict with yourself.
  • Break It Down. If you notice you are feeling angry, write down some of your thoughts (or type them out on your phone, it is 2020 after all). In the process of getting your thoughts out onto another medium, you can begin to sort out why it is that you are upset and what steps you can take to work through the situation at hand. Getting your thoughts out can also make them feel more tangible and manageable. 
  • Move it Out. As you have probably experienced before, anger can be felt physically in your body, similar to other forms of arousal like anxiety or even excitement. Try and calm these physical manifestations with slowing down your breathing with long, deep breaths. You can also use these arousal feelings for better directed energy, such as kickboxing, jumping rope, or running. You can even just have a good scream if you need to (privately, of course). Your anger might even come out in tears, so let it!
  • Find The Big Picture. If at this point you are still feeling steamy, try making a list of things that you are grateful for. This can be a form of meditation, or even just a moment to reflect on what is right in your life. If what you are angry about involves another person, try taking a moment to think about what unique challenges they might be reacting to. Empathy can be a good way to neutralize anger
  • Share-carefully. It can be cathartic to share your feelings with someone. With this, just keep in mind that not everyone is equipped to hear difficult feelings and handle them in a supportive way. Some people just aren’t good listeners, and that’s okay! Try to be selective in who you choose to share with.
  • Act. It’s a balancing act between learning what is worth letting go of, like someone cutting you in line, versus something that requires steps to improve the situation, like being in a toxic relationship. Having a specific plan of action with clear goals to remedy the situation can help reduce stress and give you a sense of control.
  • Be Watchful. Anger can be tricky. At times, even though it appears that things are resolved, there can still be some residual emotions that take the form of things like insomnia, irritability, or even depression. A good way to combat this is to practice mindfulness, which helps you to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. Similarly, these lingering feelings could also indicate a deeper conflict that could benefit from talking to a professional. 

References

Bonior, A. (2014, April 24). How to Control Anger: Seven Quick Tips

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/friendship-20/201404/how-control-anger-seven-quick-tips.