Life Skills Development/Module Three/Unit 3: Conflict Management/Anger Management
A very imporant component of conflict resolution is learning to manage your anger. Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival. On the other hand, we can not physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us; laws, social norms, and common sense place limits on how far our anger can take us.
What is anger?
Anger may be defined as:
- An emotional state consisting of feelings that varies in intensity from mild irritation or annoyance to intense fury and rage.
- A strong emotion; a feeling that is oriented toward some real or supposed grievance
- The state of being angry
- An emotional response to a grievance; real or imagined; past, present or future, often based in a sensation or perception of threat.
Anger may be "provoked" (or triggered) by perceived threats, like conflict, or by abstract concepts such as injustice, humiliation and betrayal among others.
Types of Anger
People use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their angry feelings. The three main approaches are positive, negative and unexpressed.
Positive anger is expressed positively when the individual who is expressing the anger does so without hurting others or them self. This is the healthiest way to express anger. Some ways one can positively express anger is:
- Beating on a pillow or mattress.
- Physical exertion, i.e., playing football, basketball, karate, etc.
- Loud yelling.
- Screaming in a vacant parking lot.
- Writing in a journal.
- Writing a letter of anger, but ripping it up the next day.
- Wringing a towel.
Negative anger is expressed when the individual who is expressing the anger does so by hurting others or them self. Some examples of negatively expressing anger are:
- Abuse – verbal, physical, sexual, mental and emotional.
Unresolved/ Unexpressed anger occurs when an individual refuses to ‘deal with’ the situation or trigger which made them angry. Rather, they ignore or ‘bottle up’ their true feelings on the matter. Thus, their anger is never resolved, or managed positively. This in turn produces tension and stress which is continuously accumulated until one day it releases itself in a negative way.
Cues to Anger
An important aspect of managing your anger is the ability to recognise the warning signs that you are becoming angry. These cues can be divided into the following catergories:
Physical Cues. Physical cues involve the way our bodies respond when we become angry. For example, our heart rates may increase, we may feel tightness in our chests, or we may feel hot and flushed.
Behavioral Cues. Behavioral cues involve the behaviors we display when we get angry, which are observed by other people around us. For example, we may clench our fists, pace back and forth, slam a door, or raise our voices.
Emotional Cues. Emotional cues involve other feelings that may occur concurrently with our anger. For example, we may become angry when we feel abandoned, afraid, discounted, disrespected, guilty, humiliated, impatient, insecure, jealous, or rejected.
Cognitive Cues. Cognitive cues refer to the thoughts that occur in response to the anger provoking event. When people become angry, they may interpret events in certain ways. For example, we may interpret a friend’s comments as criticism, or we may interpret the actions of others as demeaning, humiliating, or controlling.
Anger Management Stratigies
This involves removing yourself from a situation once you feel your anger is escalating. For example, stopping yourself from engaging in a discussion or argument if you feel that you are becoming too angry or leave the house if you think your brother is playing his music rather loudly when he know you would be resting for work later because of the argument you both had earlier.
When one becomes angry your breathing rate and heart rate both increase,by performing deep breathing exercises your aim is to slow your breathing and systematically relax your muscles so that you can regain control and calm your self. Below is an deep breathing exercise that you can practise.
- Take a deep breath .( Notice your lungs and chest expanding.)
- Now slowly exhale through your nose.
- Again, take a deep breath.
- Fill your lungs and chest. Notice how much air you can take in. Hold it for a second. Now release it and slowly exhale.
- One more time, inhale slowly and fully. Hold it for a second, and release.
- Now on your own, continue breathing in this way for another couple of minutes,with each inhalation and exhalation, feel your body becoming more and more relaxed.
Cognitive Thought Reframing
In this approach, you tell yourself, to stop thinking the thoughts that are getting you angry.You replace your hot thoughts (the ones that makes you angry)with cold thoughts (the ones make you calm. For example,you might tell yourself, “I need to stop thinking these thoughts. I will only get into trouble if I keep thinking this way,”
Tips for managing your anger
- Listen to anger cues the physical signs of anger - rapid breathing, racing pulse and a raised tone of voice - be able to recognize these in yourself.
- Use relaxation techniques …(breathe deeply, count backwards,etc)
- Describe your feelings and really try to understand the reasons behind your emotions. It is important to recognize that there are external factors that you have no control over but you can control how you think about them or how you physically react to a situation. Remember the mind and the body are interconnected by changing how we think can change how we feel and in turn how we react.
- Identify our hot thoughts( the ones that makes us angry) and replace them with cold thoughts (the ones that calms us down).
- Take responsibility for your behaviour, this includes identifing and addressing the behaviours that make people angry with you.