Understand your anger and learn how to manage it
We have all experienced anger, somewhere along a spectrum that ranges from mild irritation to intense rage.
Understanding what triggers feelings of rage and frustration and learning how to channel it appropriately is important to maintain healthy relationships and manage our emotions.
Our experienced psychologists can help you better understand your emotions, what triggers anger and how to deal with it.
Your anger can kill you
While mild anger can sometimes serve a positive purpose – assertively reclaiming your place in that queue for instance – explosive outbursts of rage can cost us our reputation, our job, our relationships ... even our life. Fortunately, there is a treatment.
In man’s primitive past, anger could be a life-saving reaction to physical threats, unleashing the aggressive behaviours which allowed us to defend ourselves from attack. These days you’re not likely to meet a sabre-toothed tiger in the supermarket car park. The fuse is likely to be lit, instead, by being stuck in traffic gridlock, being scapegoated by the boss from hell, or having someone step in front of you in a queue.
A study of thousands of heart attack patients found that those who recalled having flown into a rage during the previous year were more than twice as likely to have had their heart attack within two hours of that episode … and the more extreme the anger, the greater the risk.
Some people justify indiscriminate venting of anger as being preferable to “bottling it up”. In fact, “letting it rip” doesn’t diminish anger. It intensifies it. Almost inevitably it can lead to damaging verbal and physical encounters, anxiety, depression and alcohol or drug abuse. Never expressing anger can be equally unhelpful.
Learning how to manage anger starts with acknowledging its existence and understanding its causes. It allows you to develop a range of options for handling it, including communicating your feelings in a non-threatening manner.
Even people who have a lower tolerance for frustration as a result of genetic influences or an inheritance of family behaviour can learn how to recognise the triggers and change the way they think and react to them.
Strategies to manage anger
- Identify your warning signs. Physical signs, like the tightening of muscles around arms and jaw, or feeling heat and pressure start building in the face and head, are indicators that your body is getting ready for fight or flight - which may take the form of an outburst of anger.
- Step back. Take some time out from the situation when you are starting to feel angry. If you're speaking with someone, tell them that you need a break and you'll sort this out in half an hour.
- Calm yourself down through relaxation techniques. Deep breathing exercises to steady a quickening heart can help diffuse your anger. Calming self-talk that you can handle it and that it's going to be okay can be helpful.
- Change the way that you think. When you're angry, it's easy for things to seem worse than they are. Use logic and remind yourself that the world is not out to get you.
- Exercise. Regular physical activity can help burn off extra tension and relieve stress, giving you an outlet and reducing your anger.
How Psychology Melbourne can help
With 18 clinics across Melbourne, our team of experienced psychologists can help you understand your anger, identify problem areas and develop an action plan to change your thought processes and control your anger.