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Dealing With Anger — Learn to Control It Before It Controls You

Updated on August 4, 2016

I was so angry I could feel a fire horse galloping inside my chest. I felt like I wanted to punch the man along with his pretentious wife. My face felt hot, and my extremities, along with my mouth, started shaking. I didn't know how to react. My instincts were telling to be aggressive, but my mind was telling me that it probably wasn't going to be such a good idea.

Anger is a very human emotion. We all get angry when we feel frustrated or threatened, and the first way in which we want to react is by being aggressive and punching the living lights out of the person that is causing our anger. Sometimes even murderous thoughts might cross our mind, even if it's just for a very brief moment.

The problem with anger is that it could begin to control us if we don't learn how to control it first. Some people have gone as far as torture and murder because they haven't learned to control their emotions. Anger could become a monster inside of us, and we could become its puppet.

What is anger?

Anger is an emotion, and like all emotions, anger is energy in motion. I'm sure you have felt how your body becomes filled with energy when you become angry. It's as if a fire suddenly turned the engine on. Suddenly you feel like you have the energy to kick and punch and scream at the top of your lungs. That's all very normal because when we feel angry our body goes through some psychological as well as some biological changes:

  • Heart beat increases
  • Blood pressure increases
  • Energy hormones (Adrenaline & Noradrenaline) increase

Since anger is energy in motion, this energy needs to find its way out of our bodies. Usually people choose to deal with anger in one of three ways:

  • Expression
  • Repression
  • Calming down

Anger is not bad.

Anger in itself is not bad. It's actually a very helpful reaction. It gives us the energy we need to fight or flee in case we are threatened. The problem comes when we choose to express in ways that could harm us or others, or when we hold on to this feeling for hours, days or even years. This is bad, not only for our emotional health, but our physical health as well, since anger, much like stress, comes with altered physical symptoms such as increased heart beat and blood pressure.

Expression of anger

The expression of anger can happen in two different ways. You could express anger in an aggressive way or in a firm, non-aggressive manner. Of those two, the latter is the healthiest choice. Many outbursts of anger happen because the person doesn't know how to express himself, and thus shuts down or reacts either physically or verbally aggressive. So how can you learn to express your anger in a positive, affirming, non-violent manner?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Give yourself sometime before you respond. The old "count to 10" advice is actually very helpful. Give yourself some space between you and your anger so that you can know how to answer appropriately.
  • Try to find what's the real cause of your anger.
  • Speak slowly. Think thoroughly before you speak.
  • Start your sentences with "I'm mad because..." or "I feel (insert emotion here) because..."
  • Be patient. Ask questions to get to the root of the problem.
  • Listen to what the other person has to say. Some fights or arguments happen due to misunderstandings. Give the other person a chance to explain himself, and give you some time to decide whether you wish to believe what the other person is saying.
  • Be confident, never sarcastic or aggressive.

Ask questions to get to the root of the problem and find your anger triggers.
Ask questions to get to the root of the problem and find your anger triggers. | Source

Reaction vs. Response

When you are upset, mad or furious, you should respond to your anger, not react. A response is an action based on logic. A reaction is an emotional state without logic.

Repressing anger

A lot of people choose to repress the anger, either because they don't know how to express it correctly or because they have been taught that expressing anger is wrong. However, the results of keeping anger inside can be pretty dire. Accumulated anger can lead to:

  • Hypertension
  • Self-harming behavior
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Severe and frequent headaches

Calming down

If you're able to calm down and really monitor your external as well as your internal response, well then, that's just awesome! Ideally we should strive for this kind of behavior in which we choose to redirect or even change our anger into more positive emotions. It's not that we don't feel anger, it's that we choose and know how to put that energy to better use. Remember, our body is trying to get rid of all that energy that the hormones are providing it with. Some people choose to exercise or to focus all the energy in a hobby or any other activity that completely grabs their attention.

Calming down is excellent for your body, but it could have a downside: if you don't speak about what's making you angry, sometimes the annoyance or abusive behavior could continue. Therefore, even if you know how to calm down and redirect your energy, it would still be helpful to learn how to express yourself assertively to stop the anger causing behavior.

Take a moment to think and distance yourself from  your anger.
Take a moment to think and distance yourself from your anger. | Source

Other ideas to control your anger

Keep a diary. Create an entry in your diary every time you get mad and answer these questions:

  • Why did I get mad?
  • Why do I think that happened?
  • What did the other person do?
  • Why do I think s/he did it?
  • What do I think of that person?
  • What do I think of myself?

Also write how you have expressed your anger in the past and how you think you could improve. There are some situation that you will not be able to avoid regardless of how much you try. Write what would be the best responses whenever an unavoidable situation arises.

Write everything that comes to your head, don't filter it. The more you write, the easiest it will be to spot your exact anger triggers.

Talk to someone. Sometimes you need to vent and let all that emotion out. Call or visit someone that you know will listen. Don't go to someone that will just further your anger.

Forgive. We are all imperfect and it's unrealistic to expect that every one should behave exactly as we expect them to. Maybe along the process we might realize that we were at fault as well.

Write down your emotions, find new and positive ways to deal with your anger.
Write down your emotions, find new and positive ways to deal with your anger. | Source

Repeat calming affirmations. Choose a sentence that helps you relax and remain focused and say it over and over. You may choose affirmations such as "I'm angry but I can control it."

Breathing exercises. Sit down with your back straight. Close your eyes, place your hand on your stomach. Breathe with your stomach, and feel your hand elevate every time you breathe. Focus solely on your breathing. Do this until you feel relaxed.

Change your environment. Once you have identified the people and places that trigger your anger, avoid them as much as possible. There are some people that are toxic to our well being, and regardless of how much we try to understand them, they will always irritate us. Identify these people and stay away from them as much as possible. You don't have to be rude to them, but you also don't have to be their friend.

Don't think in terms of winning or losing. Sometimes we become even more agitated because we think we lost an argument and the other person went home victorious. The only person that loses is the one that lets anger affect his well being.

Place yourself in the other person's shoes. How would you have reacted if you were the other person? How did your actions (or reactions) affect the other person's reaction? Analyze this as objectively as possible.

Humor. Try to see the humor in the situation. Sometimes this might be extremely difficult, but try. It's hard to stay mad and angry when you're busy smiling and laughing.

Keep your emotional and physical health. Learn how to control your anger and live happily!

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    • Kamalesh050 profile image

      Kamalesh050 2 years ago from Sahaganj, Dist. Hooghly, West Bengal, India

      A very well written article worth reading again! Great tips my friend!

      Voted Up. Best Wishes, Kamalesh :)

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 2 years ago

      Hi missmarsh:

      I know exactly what you're talking about. Some days I just feel like a ticking bomb. These tips have helped me, I hope they help you as well. :)

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 2 years ago

      Hi annanee:

      Meditation is something that a lot of people have added to their repertoire of anger management. I personally have never tried it, but I know many have. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • missmarsh profile image

      Loralie Lyndon 2 years ago from USA

      You offer some really great suggestions on how to deal with anger. I tend to let myself get very stressed out and have to step back and calm myself before I get super angry. I'm usually able to do this just fine, but there are those days when I feel like I could scream! Thanks for the interesting and very helpful article!

    • annanee profile image

      annanee 2 years ago from USA

      How about meditation?

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Thank you for your kind words, saswati!

    • Saswati CM profile image

      Saswati Chakraborty Misra 3 years ago from Bangalore

      Thanks Silver Q.....your articles are quite insightful!

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi saswati:

      I definitely agree with you. Anger is energy, just like any other emotion. So if it is channeled in a positive way, it could help us achieve new heights. Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi perspycacious:

      I love that quote! It's so true! I had never heard it before. Thank you so much for sharing that!

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 3 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      I like the quote that is currently going around to the effect that "He who harbors anger is like a man who drinks poison and thinks doing so will kill the other person!"

    • Saswati CM profile image

      Saswati Chakraborty Misra 3 years ago from Bangalore

      Hi,

      Nice Article. Great to see some common points with my article. Especially 'Anger is not bad'. Even in my article: http://saswaticm.hubpages.com/hub/Management-of-An... I have mentioned a point about 'Constructive Anger' which means Anger if channeled in a positive way can help us to achieve our objectives. I hope you will also agree with me.. What say?

      Regards,

      Saswati

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi vily_far:

      Thank you for your encouraging words. I'm so glad you like this hub!

    • vily_far profile image

      vily_far 3 years ago

      This is such a great and useful article! I did have anger issues while younger and I know how destructive these could be. So many relationships were ruined because of my inability to act rationally whenever angry. Thank you for taking the time to write all of this detailed information - this is an amazing hub!

    • doktortv profile image

      yasin 3 years ago from istanbul

      the article is perfect and enougly long. thx a lot :=)

    • healthyfitness profile image

      Rick Grimes 3 years ago

      This was an amazing read! I need to show this to some people... I've never had problems with anger but it can be a scary thing for those around you!

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi toytasting:

      You're very welcome! Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • Toytasting profile image

      Toy Tasting 3 years ago from Mumbai

      Thanks for sharing these valuable insights. I am sure they would be of much help to me during such situations :)

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi Rosie writes:

      I agree with you. There are some people that must take medication. I have met at least one person with ODD, and they feel guilty because they completely lose control of themselves in fits of anger. Thank you for reading and for pointing that out! :)

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi Ebonny:

      Yes, I think we should all understand that emotions in themselves are not bad. They're just how we are feeling at that particular moment, but we are not defined by them. Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • Ebonny profile image

      Ebonny 3 years ago from UK

      Great advice here - voted up and more. I particularly liked that you explained that anger in itself it not bad. We just need to handle it right.

    • Rosie writes profile image

      Rosie writes 3 years ago from Virginia

      This is good advice for many. There are those who cannot control their anger by these means alone and they need medication to help them be successful. There is actually a condition called ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) and it is an eye-opener when you see a person who truly has this. They cannot control their anger and they are in constant turmoil. I have seen medication help dramatically in these extreme cases.

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi wabash annie:

      I can totally relate with that feeling. That's one of the reasons I was compelled to write this hub. I'm glad it came at an opportune time and that you found it interesting. Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • wabash annie profile image

      wabash annie 3 years ago from Colorado Front Range

      What an excellent hub and interesting timing. For the first time in many years, last evening I became very angry. Often I feel frustration, sadness, and a general inability to work through issues with this person. When I was very young, I would wash my face with cold water and do jumping jacks in the workplace restroom to control any anger. That worked very well. Appreciate the hub!

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi flourishanyway:

      Thank you very much! Pent up emotions are not good, because we end up exploding like firecrackers, like you mentioned. Thank you for the awesome comparison!

    • Irish Shrew profile image

      Ro 3 years ago from Midwest

      Good job. I am very glad that you included in your article the task of asking, "what do I think of myself", in a confrontation. I believe that so much of our anger is insecurity based. We tend to lend more meaning to one's words than what was actually delivered. There was an excellent book written a long time ago by Dr. Wayne Dyer: Pulling your own Strings. He speaks of our reactions to others; 'he makes me mad', 'she broke my heart'. He explores the idea that maybe no one makes us mad. We make us mad.There really is something to that. If humans were the most secure, independent thinking, well adjusted beings that lacked the need to be affirmed as perfect- there would be a lot less fighting, or at the very least-a lot less confrontation.

    • theBAT profile image

      theBAT 3 years ago

      Sometimes it is very difficult to repress and control anger. And it is unhealthy not to express that emotion and just keep it inside. I think "changing your environment" or simply "taking a walk" from that highly emotional situation can help a lot. Nice hub.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 3 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Congrats on writing a thorough article on a useful topic and for the HubPot score. I have a Haiku on this topic, and there is too much anger in the world which gets us all a lot of grief.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Pent up emotions can definitely contribute to health problems, as you've identified. So many people these days either bottle it or inappropriate let it out like a firecracker exploding in a crowd. Congratulations on your Hubpot winning.

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi gsidley:

      Thank you for reading, commenting and voting up! :)

    • gsidley profile image

      Dr. Gary L. Sidley 3 years ago from Lancashire, England

      A well-written hub incorporating plenty of sound advice.

      Voted up.

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi swilliams:

      Thank you for your kind words! And, yes, even though taking time before responding can be tough, it works wonders once it is put to practice. It can save us soooo much trouble. Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      HI ChitrangadaSharan:

      I always enjoy your comments! And you're right, it is easier said than done, but with practice comes perfect. I guess we just have to continue practicing control and, eventually, we will get good at it. Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi suraj punjabi:

      Thank you for that tip on controlling anger. I think that method is awesome. As for the fight or flight response, according to several scholarly articles, is also triggered by anger. Anger, like fear, is also a reaction to a real or perceived threat, which is why our reactions to anger and fear are so similar, such as shallow breath, increased heart rate, trembling extremities, etc. The fight or flight response is triggered naturally by the body to protect itself against the instigating situation. The National Association of School Psychologists has a good article online about this.

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • suraj punjabi profile image

      suraj punjabi 3 years ago from jakarta

      Hi Silver Q! I really enjoyed reading your hub its very well put. I really find a lot of the point very helpful and informative. It shows how dedicated you are to making this hub. There some things which I would like to point out. One is that fight or flight is actually related to fear as opposed to anger. When someone is coming to attack us the body automatically responds to fight or flight mode. I think its better you look this up and make sure again. Another way to deal with anger I have been taught in meditation is to actually observe our physical reactions that comes with anger, such as our breath and the rise in our body temperature, sweating, our lips trembling, etc, what do you think of this method? Thank you. Im looking forward to reading more hubs coming from you :)

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Great hub on how to deal with anger! And you are so right in saying that control anger, before it controls you. Easier said than done though.

      There have been occasions, especially during my teens, when I could have avoided such a situation. With age comes maturity and composure and things are easier to handle.

      Thanks for this engaging and thought provoking hub!

      Voted up and shared on HP!

    • swilliams profile image

      Emunah La Paz 3 years ago from Arizona

      Great Article Silver Q. I love the animated pictures! "Give yourself sometime before you respond." That's a tough one when you're in the heat of the moment, yet very important! Good stuff!

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi amiebutchko:

      Thank you for your kind words!

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hey THarman7:

      Yes, forgiveness is always such a cleansing habit! Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi Rebecamealey:

      Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing! :)

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi lisavanvorst:

      Thank you for reading, and please don't hold your anger in anymore, that' s never good for our emotional or physical health. Thank you for commenting and reading! Best wishes!

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hey VVanNess:

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi Everyday Miracles:

      You're right. Sometimes we don't even know what is really causing our anger, but when we analyze it, we become better prepared to deal with it. Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi VirginiaLynne:

      Yes, that is very true. Sometimes we end up eating either out of anger or out of stress, or out of any other repressed emotion. Thank you for those very good tips you mentioned in your comment!

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      HI cygnetbrown:

      Thank you very much! I wasn't expecting it at all, but it felt nice. :)

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi manatita44:

      Thank you for your kind words!

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      Great article! You offer some really creative tips for helping those with anger issues. Thanks!

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Donna Brown 3 years ago from Alton, Missouri

      Congratulations on your hub winning today!

    • Everyday Miracles profile image

      Becki Rizzuti 3 years ago from Indiana, USA

      I find that analyzing what's making me mad makes it so much easier to control the anger that I'm feeling. Great hub!

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 3 years ago from United States

      I think you give some very helpful suggestions. In the Naturally Slim weigh management program, they suggest that many times misplaced emotions turn into food we put in our mouths. It is important to allow ourselves to feel the emotions and then say--ok, this is what I feel and this is why I feel it. How long do I want to feel this way? I actually find this very helpful because it reminds me that ultimately anger often hurts me more than the person or situation I'm angry with. That motivates me to forgive or forget.

    • lisavanvorst profile image

      Lisa VanVorst 3 years ago from New Jersey

      Great hub. I tend to be the person who holds her anger in and then I explode with a vengeance. I know this isn't the right way to handle anger but I just hate to argue and face confrontations. I enjoyed reading the helpful hints and hope to apply them.

    • amiebutchko profile image

      Amie Butchko 3 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Great article. Love it - important topic and great reporting!

    • THarman7 profile image

      Terry Harman 3 years ago from Lacey Washington

      Very good information. Forgiveness is something that everyone should practice.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Great anger management advice. The old count to 10 thing is still a good idea! Thanks, great Hub. Shared!

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      Great advice and well-written. I like the empathy presentation. Cool.

    • Silver Q profile image
      Author

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi Mary McShane:

      I know exactly what you mean! Seems like everyday there's someone who wakes up with the sole intention of annoying us. :) Thank you for your nice comment and for sharing!

    • Mary McShane profile image

      Mary McShane 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

      Hi SilverQ,

      This is a very informative hub, well written. It is a subject which I can identify with, given the daily 'crap' I deal with in parts of my life that do not involve Hubpages. I can certainly use some of these strategies. :) Thank you.

      Shared, and voted up, useful and interesting.