Anger is not good or bad.
Anger is a flashlight, showing you where to pay attention.
Use eyes of Love and Wisdom to see what anger is showing you.
Be Love's Light: shine your love into the darkness you see; transform your understanding with Love.
What is your attitude towards anger? Do you believe anger is bad? Do you think a person is bad if they are angry? Many people are taught to see anger as a problem. Realize anger is normal and has a purpose. Find its purpose, and you can make your anger useful.
Anger is information letting you know an issue is needing your attention. What is the issue needing your attention? What are healthy ways to deal with this information? Anger becomes a problem when it is ignored and/or perceived as bad. When ignored and left unmanaged, anger can develop into rage, hatred, and resentment.
On this page, you will find information about the following:
- Anger Is a Signal
- Managing Anger
- Expressing Anger
See Communication Basics, Communication Skills Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, Relationship Basics, Relationship Boundaries and Self-Care, and Family Dynamics and Conflict Resolution pages for additional information.
Anger Is a Signal
Anger often signals there is a more specific emotion present but unrecognized. Some emotions develop into anger when left unattended. For example:
- Someone is injured in a car accident and you fear they wont recover. The fear left unaddressed may surface as anger.
- A friend cancels plans repeatedly and you feel disappointed. The disappointment left unrecognized can surface as anger.
- You are embarrassed by your actions and do not address this. Hidden embarrassment may convert to anger (at self or other).
- Someone you trust lies to you and you feel betrayed. Left unresolved, betrayal may convert to anger.
- You are misunderstood and feel sad and lonely. These feelings may grow into anger.
- A relationship ends and you feel rejected. Ignoring your feelings, rejection could turn to anger.
- You are unsatisfied in your career and feel empty. The emptiness may become anger.
- Your work is unnoticed repeatedly and you feel ignored and disrespected. Left unaddressed, these feelings are able to turn into anger.
Anger identifies the presence of an issue. Name the issue you are uncomfortable about. After you know the issues, decide the goal and/or change desired. Create steps toward the goal and/or change for resolution.
Anger may indicate you are placing blame on a person instead of seeking ways to resolve an issue. (See Communication Skills Part 2", "3", and "4".) Blame is not an ingredient for problem solving. Investing energy into blame drains energy needed for problem solving. Naming the issue or problem is important. Blame zaps you of power and freedom to make healthy changes. Blame gives the illusion the other person is in control of your activity and/or feelings.
YOU are responsible for how you manage and express your anger. Even if anger feels overwhelming, you CAN control your actions and behavior. Your anger is not responsible for your actions. Your thoughts/decisions are responsible for your actions. Anger is an emotion; it is not a thinking process. Anger does not make decisions about your words and actions.
Following are five ways to manage anger:
1. Let go of the anger.
Soothe yourself with supportive self talk.
Remind yourself- "My opinions count." "I will talk with someone who is interested in what I have to say." "I have a right to my thoughts and opinions." "I have a right to tell the truth of who I am and how I think." "I respect myself." "I am a kind and loving person."
Engage in a comforting activity:
-take a long shower, exercise, sing, pray, meditate, go out into nature, etc.
- Forgive. Forgiving others is something you do for yourself. It separates you from the harm of negativity.
2. Share your thoughts with an un-involved person.
- Be sure to state whether you want advice or just a sympathetic ear.
3. If your anger is towards someone, tell that person directly of your emotion(s).
- Take responsibility for the way you feel; do not blame the other person.
- Take some time to decide what you want.
- Use "I Statements."
- Acknowledge the other person's point of view. Don't argue facts.
- State your feelings. Acknowledge they most likely did not intend your anger.
- Accept an apology.
- Set up an agreeable time to talk.
- Talk about the immediate situation. DO NOT bring up the past.
- Use productive communication skills (see Communication Skills Parts 1, 2, 3, 4).
- Request a specific change.
- Confirm agreement about any plan for change. (A nodding head does not necessarily indicate agreement for a plan and follow through.)
5. Change your approach.
- Notice you are positioned in anger.
- Decide to change your thoughts and/or behavior.
- Act by choice, rather than blowing up or swallowing feelings.
- Do not wait for someone else to change.
Develop a productive style for expressing your anger.
Anger is best expressed with assertiveness, not aggression. Practice and become familiar with assertive communication (see Communication Skills Part 1).
Accept anger as a normal, natural, healthy, helpful signal increasing your awareness of something needing your attention.
Know you are responsible for your feelings: You are angry about something. No one forced you to be angry.
Know what situations trigger your anger. Be aware of ways to soothe your mind during these situations. If your attention to others' words or behaviors triggers your anger, change your attention or use assertive expression to problem solve.
Learn thoughts and behaviors which create relaxation for you. Use these when you feel angry.
DO NOT use sarcasm, name-calling, attacks, or resentful thoughts to express yourself. You cannot expect anyone to cooperate when you are acting in opposition. (See Destructive Communication Patterns).
Deal with discomfort as it arises. Don't wait for anger to motivate communication. Be honest and open with yourself and others. Don't judge feelings. Feelings are helpful in making you more aware of your life.
Please also see Communication Basics, Communication Skills Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, Relationship Basics Part 1, Part 2 and Relationship Boundaries and Self-Care, and Family Dynamics and Conflict Resolution pages.