Anger is “an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage,” according to Charles Spielberger, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in the study of anger. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes; when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline.
Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be angry at a specific person or event or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings.
Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. It is a natural, adaptive response to threat and allows us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival. But when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems — in your personal relationships and in the overall quality of your life. And it can make you feel as though you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion because it disengages the part of your brain that’s used to make rational decisions. We often do and say things when we’re angry, that we regret later. How many times do you wish you could take back something you said when you were angry? It only takes a few seconds to cause a lot of damage and pain. Avoiding this type of situation is a good enough reason to work on your anger management skills.
The ability to manage your emotional states is a valuable skill that will serve you well throughout your lifetime.
Practise these anger management strategies to become a master of your unhealthy emotions:
1 Monitor your mental state. Notice when you’re starting to feel agitated. Anger is much easier to control if caught early. Once you’re in the middle of an episode of full-blown rage, it becomes more challenging. Keep a check on your negative emotions. They’re all easier to manage when they first appear. As they gain strength, the tools available to manage them become less effective.
2 Learn to let go and avoid holding a grudge. Grudges are a great way to keep yourself primed to feel angry with little provocation. Let go of your anger and forgive. You’ll feel better and life will be more enjoyable. You’re only hurting yourself when you hold on to a grudge.
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