Even though anger is a primary emotion, it is not always what it seems. Many times, anger is a secondary emotion that is fueled by another, more vulnerable, emotion. For example, anxiety and depression could be the underlying factors associated with the outward expression of anger. Anger is a bold emotion that may lead to undesirable behaviors that have negative consequences. Therefore, it is important to learn to effectively manage anger when it does surface. The following three steps can be used to manage anger in a healthy way: Prevention, Acting in the moment and Understanding the source of the anger.
Prevention: taking the time to become more aware of your feelings
– Check in every hour using a scale (1 least angry, 10 most angry). This will help bring your attention to your feelings and monitor them throughout the day
– When you realize that you are at about a 5 on the anger scale stop to think about what may be causing the anger and how it can be resolved
– Try to determine what other feelings you may be feeling (e.g., sadness, frustration, jealousy, etc.). When possible, label the other emotions and attend to them (e.g., writing down the reasons why you are sad or frustrated, tell someone what is making you sad, etc.).
Act in the moment: when you find your anger is getting out of control (an 8 or higher on the anger scale) use effective and healthy coping skills to calm yourself down
– Deep breathing
– Muscle relaxation
Understand the source of the anger: pay attention to where the anger is coming from and what role your personality plays in the anger (e.g., are you an anxious person who feels overwhelmed and in turn becomes angry? do you tend to shut down and not deal with your emotions until they are out of control?)
Author: Michelle Debski, M.A.