We all feel angry at times – it’s part of being human. Anger is a normal, healthy emotion, which we might experience if we feel:
- let down in some way
- denied of something that we feel entitled to
- invalidated or unfairly treated
- sadness (foundation, expressed with anger)
Anger isn’t necessarily a ‘bad’ emotion; in fact it can sometimes be useful. For example, feeling angry about something can:
- help us identify problems or things that are hurting us
- motivate us to create change, achieve our goals and move on
- help us stay safe and defend ourselves in dangerous situations by giving us a burst of energy as part of our fight or flight system (internal alarm system) – This reaction quickly and helpfully prepares the body for action. It prepares us to either protect against or escape danger.
- Anger only becomes a problem when it gets out of control and harms you or people around you. Unhelpful ways you may have learned to express anger include:
- Outward aggression and violence – such as shouting, swearing, slamming doors, hitting or throwing things and being physically violent or verbally abusive and threatening towards others.
- Inward aggression – such as telling yourself that you hate yourself, denying yourself your basic needs (like food, or things that might make you happy), cutting yourself off from the world and self-harming.
- Non-violent or passive aggression – such as ignoring people or refusing to speak to them, refusing to do tasks, or deliberately doing things poorly, late or at the last possible minute, and being sarcastic or sulky while not saying anything explicitly aggressive or angry.
Anger is your external way to express something that is going on for you internally (a reflection of how you feel on the inside).
Tips for Dealing with Anger:
- Box breathing (Count to 4 while breathing in, hold it for 4 seconds, count to 4 while releasing and then wait 4 seconds before you start again -4x4x4x4
- Take space from the situation and walk away
- Bite into a lemon
- Ask yourself what’s making you so angry.
- inclusion / social support -– welcoming others –helping them to make others feel that they belong at all levels (family, community, organization, nation)
- believe that what others think and feel matters; given them the chance to explain their perspectives, express their point of view, actively listen in order to understand them
- Accountability; take responsibility for your actions; if you have violated the dignity of another, apologize, make a commitment to change hurtful behaviors.