“When I get angry, I keep it bottled up inside. I don’t want anyone to see me lose control, and I sure don’t want to blow it and lose my job.”
“I feel much better after I let off some steam. If I can just get it out of my system, I feel better right away. But people are too sensitive–why can’t they take a little anger?”
We all get angry sometimes, and we all have different ways of expressing anger. Is it better to keep it in or let it out? Actually, anger can harm your health and your relationships either way. Instead, consider some of the following suggestions:
- Try to “nip it in the bud” by noticing the early signs of anger (e.g., tense shoulders, irritable thoughts) before it becomes full-blown. Address concerns when you first notice them–don’t wait until you’re near the breaking point.
- Take a break from the situation until you can calm down. It’s much better to excuse yourself (“I’m too upset to think clearly right now”) than to do or say something you’ll regret.
- Breathe slowly and deeply. Five minutes of deep breathing should take the edge off your anger. If you’re too upset to focus on breathing, do something physically active (e.g., exercise or yardwork) until you can calm down.
- Before you go back to the situation, think it through and perhaps jot down some notes. When we’re angry, we tend to focus on other people. What about yourself? If you can acknowledge your own contributions to a problem, it can help defuse the situation.
- We often get angry when we feel that a situation is unfair. But as much as we’d like the world to be just, it’s more realistic to accept that the world is imperfect and sometimes unfair.
- Think about why you might be angry. Anger usually follows another emotion, such as hurt, humiliation, or jealousy. Also, you may be expressing anger toward one person (e.g., a family member) when you’re really angry at someone else (e.g., your boss or even yourself). It’s easier to resolve the anger when you can identify the underlying feeling or issue.
Anger is an inevitable part of life. The question is whether we will learn to control our anger or whether our anger will control us.