How to Manage Anger

When it comes to complex emotions, anger is one of the top ones, and if not managed properly, it can cause a great deal of suffering. But why do we get angry? There are actually three reasons.

1. To convey to us there is a problem to our safety or to the safety of those we care for.

2. To focus on a problem more attentively, often to the point where we have trouble thinking about anything else.

3. To give us energy and prepare the physical body to take action.

Not all people have the same anger levels though. Some people seem to be ‘easy-going’ while others have a ‘short fuse.’ The reason why is everyone have Hot Buttons that are different – triggers that create a strong emotional reaction. The good news is when it comes to your ‘anger buttons’ there are three steps you can do to prevent an annoyance from becoming a blow up: Observe, Analyze, Change.

1. Observe. Examine, without judgment or shame, what bothers you. Is there a particular pattern that happens (are you tried, with a particular person, etc.) when these feelings of anger begin? It’s important to pay attention to how you react on the inside when one of your buttons gets pushed.

2. Analyze. Now that you’re aware of your anger triggers take time to analyze how you typically react. Look deeper into your anger. Yes, you might feel mad, but do you also feel stupid, helpless, paranoid, etc. when things don’t go according to the plan in your mind?

3. Change. Once you know the deeper feelings you experience when you’re angered, you can form a plan to change the way you view upsetting events. This same advice can help you when you deal with people who might be angry WITH YOU. Consider what else might be going on in their lives, and the deeper emotions they might be feeling.

For example, a teenager with a ‘smart mouth’ might come off angry for not being able to stay out after midnight. But the deeper issue could be that the teen is frustrated and feels they’re not being trusted. Now, will that teen recognize that their anger is really about trust issues? Probably not. But then again, many adults fail to look deeper into their emotional hot buttons to see what’s REALLY making them mad too. However, if you take the time to examine your reactions, and those around you, you’ll find life can be much more fulfilling and a lot less stressful.