Anger is a normal emotion, and letting it out is actually healthy. The “normal” person lets his anger show when appropriate, but does not let it control him, or let things get out of hand.
There are some people, however, who just can’t seem to get a grip on themselves when the monster that is anger rears its ugly head. Some go on a verbal tirade. Others go on a physical rampage. Yet others simply keep quiet and keep it all in – until they explode.
Whichever group you feel you belong to, if you have been experiencing issues with anger, I believe that this article is for you.
Again, anger is normal, but it has to be controlled, so why don’t we first look at real reasons why you should control your anger?
Serious reasons you should control your anger
You do/say things you end up regretting.
I have a confession. I don’t know how to express my anger “normally”. I usually keep quiet and after a long time – months, years even – the smallest thing can set me off; and then the anger comes out like a raging storm. Then I end up saying hurtful things that have been on my mind for so long but have not said out loud because I knew they would cut deep and not help resolve the issue. I even end up saying things I don’t really mean – just because I cannot control my anger at that point. The result? An even bigger problem where the issue/s between the parties involved escalate.
Here’s another (hypothetical) scenario: an individual who gets angry easily and finds himself in the same position I just described. The difference is that this person is caught in the vicious cycle of getting angry and behaving in an inappropriate manner: being verbally rude perhaps, throwing things around maybe, and the likes. At the end of the day, however, the person regrets his behavior, whether or not he admits it to others.
Two different people, two different ways of handling anger. Same result: hurting those around them and themselves as well.
You suffer physically and mentally.
Being always angry may work for Dr. Bruce Banner, but in real life, that strategy might very well be the death of you – literally. Whether you hold it in till you explode, or you explode all the time, your body is under a lot of stress – and we know what extreme and/or constant stress can do to your health.
Related: Check if you’re perpetually stressed.
High blood pressure. Hyperacidity. Headaches. These are only some of the things that you can physically suffer from if you don’t control your anger.
Then there is the mental/emotional aspect. Being unable to control your anger can lead to guilt, among many other things. In turn, that can again translate to physical issues like lack of sleep, fatigue, and other illnesses.
These two main reasons alone should be enough to convince you that you need to find a way (or ways) to control your anger, unless you want to suffer the consequences all your life and live an unhappy existence.
Practical things you can do to control your anger
So let’s get practical. How can you control your anger?
Learn your anger style
I’ve described two styles above, but here’s a good resource on how to determine your anger style more specifically: What’s your anger style?
Once you’ve identified your specific anger style, you can reflect on how you can best handle it when things get rough.
Call a timeout.
There’s a reason sports coaches call a timeout, and you can use this to control your anger as well. You just need to be aware when your anger starts building up to the point where you explode. Don’t let it get there. Instead, verbally and clearly call a timeout. Whoever is involved should know this, and you should also enforce that timeout. The best way is to walk away and spend that time out calming down, which brings us to the next point.
Engage in healthy physical activity.
Letting off steam can be healthy, and one way to do it is to expend your physical energy in a non-violent way. Go running, jogging, or even just walking. If you like hitting the gym, go do so. Heck, you can even punch your pillows (in private) if you want. Once your body gets rid of that energy, you’ll feel calmer and your anger will not reign uncontrolled.
Learn relaxation techniques.
Breathing exercises, stretching, visualization – all of these can help you calm down. If you’re not the type to engage in rigorous physical activity, then this may be the better alternative. Here are some ways to beat anxiety, which can also help with anger.
So you’ve (relatively) calmed down. What next?
Congratulations! You’ve actually controlled your anger. You may not have solved the problem, but at least you are able to stop yourself from doing things at the height of your angry period.
What do you do next? This is when you sit back and think about the particular issue and what caused your anger and then find ways to deal with the issue at hand.
This is, of course, immediate or short-term problem-solving. But it does add up. If you make it a habit to control your anger and deal with the problem when you’re calmer, then in the long run, you might not have anger issues anymore. If, however, you continue to have pressing issues with anger management, you might want to see a professional and seek help.