Anger is a universal experience; we all get angry from time to time.
This post is not about teaching you to never become angry, or to hide your anger. It really is about managing anger.
You don’t have to be a psychologist to know that managing our anger is something we need to do well. The goal of anger management is to reduce your emotional feelings and the physiological arousal that anger provokes. You can’t get rid of, or avoid, things or people who anger you, but you can learn to control what you do about it.
What we really want to do is to have a new type of relationship with our emotions; a relationship where we manage them rather than letting them manage us.
The most instinctive way to express anger is to respond aggressively. It is a natural way to respond to a threat, and it inspires powerful feelings and behaviours which help us fight back and defend ourselves if we are under attack. A certain amount of anger, then, is necessary for survival. In addition, sometimes we resist saying what needs to be said because we do not want to upset the status quo. However, without some degree of conflict, there may be no change or growth whatsoever, and that isn’t good either.
Self-awareness is a key element for managing your own anger. The use of anger management skills presupposes that you know when you are angry and recognize that anger as a cue that something is wrong. Expressing your anger in an assertive, but not aggressive, way is safe and healthy.
The Five Dimensions of Anger
To understand and develop the skills associated with anger management, think of anger as five interrelated dimensions, all operating simultaneously.
For example, what you think when you are angry influences how you feel, how you feel when you are angry influences how you communicate, how you communicate affects how you think, and how you think affects how you behave.