Managing Anger

Anger can cause problems in physical, personal, and social aspects of your life. Learn about new ways managing anger, and how to release its grip on your life

Many people live their lives immersed in anger. They feel they are justified, and have the right to respond to all situations with anger and resentment. There is no denying that an individual has the right to feel anyway they choose. But is anger a wise choice for a predominant attitude in a person's life? Anger can negatively affect our health, how we deal with others, and how we feel about ourselves. But there are strategies to help a person deal effectively with anger and get on with a positive and productive life.

Anger can create a strong physiological reaction. When a person gets angry their pulse rate shoots up, their blood pressure rises, and their ability to think rationally decreases. The blood pressure will remain elevated for some time, and if an individual does not deal with the anger the blood pressure will stay elevated. High blood pressure increases a person's risk for heart disease. Judith Peacock in her book, Anger Management, discusses one study done with medical students in N. Carolina that showed those who reported getting angry often, or held onto their feelings of anger were four to five times more likely to develop heart disease. These students were followed for some time, and were also found to die young seven times more often then their less angry counterparts. There is even evidence that anger can increase an individual's risk of getting cancer. It is apparent that anger can negatively impact our physical health. Anger may literally be killing you.

Anger can interfere with relationships. It is true that if you become angry with someone and are not able to let the anger go, your relationship will suffer. It is also true that this anger can affect the relationships you have with other people. Phillip McGraw in his book, Life Strategies, discusses how a person is not able to turn emotions off like a faucet. So if you feel an intense anger toward someone, when you go home to the people you love, the anger will still be lurking in your psyche. This anger will become a part of all your relationships, and the people you encounter each day. Your personality is tainted with this negative emotion and it controls how you interact with all the people in your life.

Anger is hurtful to the way you think about yourself . When you are angry at someone, and continue to feel this way you are the one that suffers. It may seem that your unwillingness to forgive a wrong is hurting the recipient of your anger, but that is not the case. That person is not experiencing higher blood pressure, and diminished ability to deal with others in a positive manner. You, as the angry person have these symptoms. The other person may wish for resolution, but that is not nearly as bad as carrying a grudge and feeding your anger. Basically when you are angry at a person you give them a route to cause you continued harm.

Anger is a secondary emotion. It can be a reaction to other emotions such as fear, hurt, insecurity, and other painful emotions. If a person latches on to the reactive emotion rather than the primary emotion, there is no way to deal with the primary emotion. The person does not deal with emotional issues, and stagnates. That is there is no personal growth, no insight, no development -- just anger.

It is obvious that anger is a rather negative way to spend your life, so what can you do to prevent these angry feelings. It is not a good idea to hit a pillow or kick a bag, or find another way to vent the anger. This perpetuates the feeling. It is like practicing being angry. And when you practice something, you become better at it. Anger is not something a person wishes to excel in. Therefore avoiding the feeling altogether is a better idea.



One method of avoiding anger is taking time out to consider the other person's perspective. If the anger occurs because someone did not show up for a party, think about the reasons why that person did not come. Were there extenuating circumstances? Is this person under a great deal of stress? What personal issues might come into play? Also consider why this person's presence was so important that it upset you. Do you have unrealistic expectations for the friendship? Are you making demands on this person they simply cannot fulfill? Sometimes we are angry at other people because of our own irrational expectations.

Irrational thoughts are often the cause of angry feelings. Irrational thoughts are those that cannot be supported by facts; they might start in the following ways:

"If she really cared she wouldn't have...."

"She should have understood what I was going through"

"He must not want me to succeed if he does this."

"My parents never let me do anything.:"

All of these statements would be difficult to prove. Yet we invest a great deal of emotional content in them. One way to stop anger would be to evaluate if a statement is rational, backed up by fact, or not. If the thought is not rational then anger can at least be postponed until the facts are clear.

It is difficult to think of other things when you are truly angry. Since this is the case it is important to develop some scenarios to use when you find yourself in an anger provoking situation. Focus on these scenarios when you feel yourself losing your fight against anger:

· The first time you fell in love

· The best Christmas present you ever received.

· Time spent with a beloved pet, friend, or family member.

· A dream that really came true.

· Getting your drivers license and driving solo for the first time.

If you can concentrate on a scene that is pleasant in nature, you may be able to stop the negative thought patterns from absorbing your energy.

Find a way to take responsibility for the situation. This may seem strange, but often when we are angry at other people, we are really responding to our own inadequacies that are not pleasant to confront. If when you find yourself getting mad, you ask yourself, "How is this my fault?" You will come up with some interesting answers. You may have avoided the situation by staying home when you are in a foul mood. You might be responsible because you drank too much the night before, and are ripe for conflict because of a hang over. You may be angry at a friend for letting you down when you have developed unrealistic expectations for someone else. There are many ways to take the blame for a situation. It is less likely that you will be fuming mad at yourself, and this may heighten your awareness of where you need work in the personal development department.

Someone once said to me, "Don't fill your life up with anger; you won't have room for anything else." I think this is a truism. Anger can become your only friend if you succumb to its charm. It is exciting to be angry. Your heart races, and you can think of nothing but the injustice that has befallen you. But the outcome of anger is isolation, stagnation, and even death. It is not a true friend, so work to become a stranger to this life depleting emotion.

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