Anger is an emotional response to outside stimuli, often in reply to a situation in which a person is physically or emotionally threatened. Anger can have physiological, as well as psychological effects. But despite what many people think, anger is not always to be viewed negatively. When approached correctly anger can be a perfectly normal and healthy human emotion.
Anger can be a powerful motivating force that moves you to a certain course of action. It gives an immediate sense of purpose and can be used as a short cut to motivation. It is also a classic form of self-preservation. We often turn to anger in an attempt to bypass psychological pain. In these ways, anger can be a perfectly normal and sometimes healthy response to a threatening situation.
A key component of anger management is differentiating between healthy and unhealthy forms of anger. Healthy anger is an emotional response that is appropriate to the situation that evokes it. Healthy expressions of anger involve facing what makes you angry in an effort to understand your emotional boundaries. On the other hand, unhealthy anger is a key ingredient in abusive relationships. This occurs when anger is used to punish, intimidate, control or manipulate other people. Unhealthy anger may also be expressions of extreme anger which can take the form of screaming, sulking, crying or physical violence.
There are many different manifestations of anger. Revenge is an insidious form of anger that wishes harmful action against another person or group in response to a grievance in the past. This indicates an ongoing anger towards the perceived perpetrator of some wrong doing. In some ways revenge is a more active form of anger in which an individual seeks retribution for an event that occurred previously. Resentment is often viewed more as a form of passive aggressive behaviour in which a person accumulates negative feelings towards another person or group. Both active and passive forms of anger can be harmful when approached incorrectly or left unaddressed.
There are a number of actions that can be taken to minimise the harmful effects of anger. The first step is becoming aware of the underlying cause of the anger and how this stimuli impacts on your behaviours. The second, often more challenging step, is to take responsibility for your reaction. Recognise when you have made an inappropriate response and apologise where possible. Eventually you will begin to develop a better understanding of the causes of your anger and gain more control over your automatic responses.
It is important to note that managing your anger does not mean ignoring your feelings. Learn to be assertive in expressing yourself without reverting to anger or aggression. You have a right to your thoughts and feelings and to be able to communicate these with honesty will only serve to strengthen your relationships.