To feel anger is natural. However, to be irrationally or unreasonably angry is not. Such anger can lead to undesirable consequences, namely, broken relationships, depression and even legal complications. Those who feel such uncontrollable anger should get anger management therapy.
What is Anger Management?
Anger management refers to the utilization of therapeutic techniques to manage uncontrollable anger or rage. The purpose of anger management is to teach someone who suffers from irrational or uncontrollable anger strategies that he could use to control his anger and minimize the effect of those things that trigger or cause his anger. Through anger management therapy, therapists also try to redirect the patient's extreme anger into more productive and healthy activities. Furthermore, they try to instill a more positive outlook on life in the patient. To accomplish all these, therapists use various techniques including deep breathing, meditation and stress management skills.
The system of anger management is also designed to be personal since people have different ways of expressing their anger. Whatever path a person takes in anger management, the only goal is to make a person emotionally and spiritually well.
Knowing the Two Types of Anger
Before a person subjects himself to anger management therapy, however, one must first accept that he has an issue with managing his anger. He must also acknowledge that his anger is leading to serious repercussions that affect not only him but also the people around him. If a person is not committed to solving his anger problems, if he doesn't even recognize the existence of a problem and the need for resolution, then there is no point in undertaking anger management therapy, because his negative and non-accepting attitude will defeat the purpose of anger management.
After acknowledging his anger management problem, the next step involves understanding the root of the problem. Specifically, he must try to find what has caused his anger management issues. He must also analyze how he copes with and expresses his anger.
A person can express his anger aggressively or passively. When a person is aggressive, he usually expresses his anger through violence, destructive actions, expressing threats, and taking revenge; he also tends to take his anger out on people who are weaker or smaller than him. On the other hand, passive individuals express their anger through secretive behaviors, repetitive behaviors (obsession), manipulation, self-pity, and self-harm (suicidal tendencies). Nevertheless, both passive and aggressive individuals cannot fully comprehend what they are doing and cannot control their emotions. Thus, it is important that those with anger management issues seek help and take the proper measures to solve the problem.
How to Handle Anger in a Positive Way
In order to manage his anger, one needs to establish a balance between anger control and anger expression. The following are some of the guidelines that can help a person express or handle his anger in a positive way.
A person should express his anger in a straightforward manner. If one is angry, he should not suppress the anger or pretend that he is not angry. He should not beat around the bush. Instead, he must express his anger or make it tangible by using hand gestures and facial expressions and by letting the person concerned see such gestures and facial expressions.
A person must also stay focused on the issue at hand. He must keep his attention focused on the issue that triggered the anger and not on matters that are irrelevant.
One must also stand his ground when he is right. He must express his anger in a consistent manner in matters when his dignity is at risk. The assumption, here, of course is that the person knows when to be unrelenting and when not to be – that is, he knows the difference between petty and grave matters. This is where point number 4 comes in.
A person must also use his reason when he is angry. First, there should be a logical basis for the anger. Second, the expression of anger must also be reasonable and not disproportionate to the situation. Third, he must maintain his self-awareness and observe his actions carefully to ensure that he doesn't get out of line.
One should also learn how to listen to the other party's explanations. By listening, one may discover that he really doesn't have any cause to be angry. Furthermore, how can one party make an apology if the other party is ranting and refuses to listen?
Finally, a person must be compassionate. Even if his anger proves to be valid, one must have enough compassion and understanding for other people. After one has expressed his anger or frustration, there is no reason why he cannot forgive the other person. It would be pretty senseless to hold on to an anger that you have already vented out.
Tips on Controlling Anger
The process of controlling anger, especially when a person is addicted to it, is really a difficult task. However, the following ways can help in anger management. Take note that these are not suppression techniques, suppressing your anger is not healthy. These are ways by which one can gain a measure of control over his anger and subsequent actions.
A person who is at the brink of raging out or who is experiencing intense anger must take several deep breaths. Deep breathing will help calm the body and help restore the body to a non-aggressive/defensive state. This way, reason can dominate the tendency towards aggression and anger will become more manageable.
One can also channel his anger towards extremely physical but basically harmless activities. For instance, one who feels rage coming on can expend his temper on a treadmill or in the gym. The adrenaline is expended and even put to better use, while one prevents himself from engaging in destructive activities in the heat of anger.
One must also think about positive things when angry. When angry, a person's bitter thoughts and emotions become rather exaggerated. By thinking positive thoughts, one can neutralize these thoughts and restore reason.
The following are the things that a person who has anger management issues can do during periods of calm – that is, in between bursts of rage.
During periods of calm, a person must think about his perceptions and analyze their validity. One must question the reasons for his anger – why does he get angry? He must evaluate whether his anger is usually valid or not. If it is the latter, he must try to change those values or beliefs – misconceptions, actually – that are causing him to be irrationally angry.
One must also try to establish a better relationship with people. He must also train himself to have a more positive outlook. He must keep on smiling, for instance. Being happy and positive is one of the ways by which anger can be defeated.
These tips are, of course, just meant to be general guides. Those who are suffering from anger management problems should still seek professional help so that a personal and specific anger management plan can be drawn for them.
By TTS Holistic Counselor Mehdi Jaffari