Have you ever known anyone who claims never to get angry? Either they lied to you or they are deep in denial. After all, it is only human to feel angry now and then. Understanding one’s anger and how to control it instead of allowing it to control you is very important to one’s well-being.
According to Dr. Gary CA, a contributor to depressionconnect.com, anger has a purpose. Scientists say anger triggers the fight response, which in turn motivates us to take action. In some cases, fighting – defending or advocating for ourselves – is what we need to do.
Other times, however, knowing what to do with those angry feelings isn’t always clear. Then, what?
Angry may be temporary; we work through it or it passes on its own. Those angry feelings may also stick around – we’ve all met people who seem to be mad about something all the time.
Sometimes people post about how angry they are as well as describe why they feel the way they do. Sometimes it is from trying to cope with being diagnosed (or someone in their family) with something that will radically change life as they know it. Other times it may be from major conflicts in the family. Other times it may be something that happened on the job that simply isn’t fair. During any rough patch, you may have times when you find yourself walking around primed to get angry at just about anything.
What can you do with all of those angry feelings?
Many people have no idea what to do with their anger. Many who do post or who share with a trusted friend how angry they feel often end up apologizing for either feeling that way or for going off on a rant. Actually, holding in anger can contribute to conditions like depression and high blood pressure, among others.
Dr. Gary thought it might be helpful to give you a few ideas about things you can do instead of sitting with those angry feelings:
Count to ten: This is the oldest trick in the book. Counting to ten gives you a chance to think, and to calm yourself down, before you react in a way you might later regret. While you’re doing that countdown, don’t forget to breathe (deeply) and don’t forget to exhale.
Step out of the story: Ask yourself if there is an old story behind your anger. If you hear yourself saying something like “this always happens to me” or “I never get what I want” then that’s a clue to a story you may be trying to repeat. React in the moment, to this situation, and not to a situation in the past that this might remind you of. By staying in the moment, you will be more likely to keep your reaction from blowing up out of proportion.
Reconsider your expectations: What were you expecting (to happen, receive, hear, etc.)? Were your expectations realistic? Sometimes anger is the result of not having our expectations met. Having realistic expectations is a great way to avoid the disappointment that can lead to angry feelings. Remember: everything is not about you.
Look for the humor. Recognizing the humor in a situation goes a long way toward balancing out that rage-rush that anger can bring on, as well as help you to keep your perspective. (If it will be funny later, it is funny now.)
Have a heart. Chronic conditions bring up all kinds of emotions. Accept your own feelings – all of them – and let yourself be human. Give yourself a break, and you’ll be that much more able to give others a break.
Reach out for support. Talk to a friend or family member who can (and will) listen without judging you for your feelings. Post a discussion! Rant if you need to. Let the feelings out.
Take care of yourself. Are you placing the needs of others before your own needs? Not taking care of yourself can leave you feeling emotionally or physically depleted, and especially vulnerable to angry feelings. Take time for yourself every day. Take a walk, listen to music, do something you enjoy.
Feeling angry is only human. You do not have to avoid feeling angry, and you do not have to be controlled by your anger. You have a choice!