If you have met me in person you would likely not conclude that I’m an angry person. You would be correct. (Enjonae the Angry Counselor does not have a good ring)I think part of what makes me good at helping others is the ability to remain calm. It takes A LOT to rattle me. It doesn’t however, take a lot to put a smile on my face…a slice of cheesecake, a good book, a chat with a good friend, a beautiful day, a good joke, did I mention cheesecake already? As easygoing as I am I still get angry. Anger is a natural response, and at times anger can motivate us to make positive change in our lives and the lives of those around us. At other times we allow it to penetrate deep into our soul, causing bitterness and even hatred to be birthed. When we don’t handle anger appropriately, it can cause poor decision making, relational problems and can even affect our health (both physical and mental).
According to the Anger Research Consortium “Anger is a normal emotion with a wide range of intensity, from mild irritation and frustration to rage. It is a reaction to a perceived threat to ourselves, our loved ones, our property, our self-image, or some part of our identity. Anger is a warning bell that tells us that something is wrong”. There are a lot of things that can cause anger. Bad drivers, slow lines, getting lost, losing things, disrespect, misbehaving kids, relational conflicts, and the list goes on. Some people have a natural tendency to respond better to anger. Even if it is a struggle for you, it is important to manage anger appropriately.
If you are not responding well to anger here are some things that may help.
- Know your triggers. Be aware of what makes you angry. If at all possible avoid it. For example, starting my day by searching for my keys for an amount of time that I won’t share with you makes me angry. Life would be so much simpler, if I would hang my keys each time I come into the house. Problem solved. Anger avoided. What ticks you off? Is there something you can do to avoid it?
- Be prepared. This is related to number one. At times we know our triggers and we can’t avoid them. Mentally prepare yourself for these situations. If waiting in long lines at the DMV bring out the worst in you plan to go on a day that you are not hurried, bring a book or something to do while you wait, and remind yourself before going you will have to suck it up and wait. What other unavoidable situations do you despise and how can you prepare for them?
- Own your feelings. As stated above, anger is a normal emotion. Pretending that you are not angry will not make you any less angry. Accept your feelings and then move on to number four.
- Express Your Anger. This can range from having a calm, reasonable discussion about your feelings to blowing up. It can include anything from swearing when you stub your toe to road rage, yelling, punching a wall, or breaking something. Expressing anger can also be about talking through your feelings, negotiating an apology, initiating change in a relationship, and taking action to change a situation or solve a problem.
- Know What Works for You.
Here are some things to try:
- Delay-Try activities such as counting slowly to ten to allow the anger to dissipate.
- Distract/Relax- Try breathing exercises, reading a book or doing a crossword puzzle. Go for a walk or jog. Do what makes you smile.
- Know Your “Why” -It can be helpful to keep the reasons you want to make positive choices regarding anger in mind. Your “why” may be based on your desire to uphold personal convictions and beliefs, your desire to uphold spiritual convictions and beliefs and/or your desire to be emotionally and physically well.
- Please note that these suggestions are not to be used to avoid situations completely. Instead they allow the issues to be addressed when you are in a state of mind that is more conducive to problem solving.
I recently encountered a situation that really agitated me. I was angry! I could have let it spiral out of control, involved others unnecessarily, and ultimately the situation would have been much worse than it had to be. I’m proud to say that I took my own advice. In this particular case what was most helpful to me was focusing on my why.
Feel free to comment on this post. What ticks you off? What calms you down? What is your “why”?