Constructive Use of Your Anger


Everyone feels angry sometimes. It is a part of our evolutionary history to become angry. When we humans lived in the jungle, we needed to become angry when we felt trapped or hurt. It provided us with a lot of energy to use in order to survive. Today, the realistic necessity of feeling angry is greatly diminished.

Not that we feel anger, but rather what we do with our anger is what’s important. How we manage that powerful emotion is critical to our health and well-being. If we "keep it in," we stress our bodies unnecessarily. If we direct it at ourselves, we become depressed and feel "worse." If we direct it at others, we become impulsive and antagonistic, often to the abrasion, if not destruction of our relationships. If we become vengeful, we end up hurting ourselves even more.

If we manage our powerful emotion of anger effectively, it can serve us well and help us get our needs met. Here are some suggestions for using your anger in a positive way.

— Usually feeling angry has something to do with feeling inadequate about yourself…doubting yourself, feeling uncertain or threatened. When angry, always remember that you are a worthwhile person and you possess many fine qualities. You are important and deserve to have your feelings, needs, thoughts and opinions respected.

— When you feel angry, stay focused on the problem you are wanting to solve. You may become angry when you "take things personally." When we interpret others’ actions or words as personal insults, we become distracted from the task or problem at hand. Keep your attention focused on the issue and don’t get distracted into an unnecessary conflict.

— Sometimes we become angry out of mere habit, or by imitating another. If you have always become angry when the dishes were left in the sink overnight, you will become angry this morning in that same situation. If someone else is angry, we often protect ourselves by becoming angry too. Learn alternative ways of responding to "old cues" for anger. Flexibility in emotional response will allow you to be less inclined to react with anger.

— Learn to relax and breathe deeply at the first signs of emotional upset, especially when there is no realistic need for the internal cues that you are becoming upset. You can short-circuit the process before you allow yourself to build up a full head of angry steam.

— Learn to use your anger to support yourself and to work to your advantage. When you are becoming angry, use it as a teacher. Learn from it. If you merely "blow up," you may say and do things you will later regret. Use your anger to be self-assertive, not aggressive.

— We often become angry when we feel "things are getting out of hand." If we have the need to be in charge, in control all the time, then any experience that we’re "losing it," will provoke anger in an attempt to regain that sense of control. We forget that the best way to "take charge" is to be in control of ourselves and perhaps not become angry when most others would expect us, or even want us to become angry and "lose it."

— Frustration usually breeds anger. When we are blocked in some effort to get what we want, anger bubbles up. If we learn there are always alternative ways of solving a problem and getting what we need in the world, we experience less frustration. We can define frustration as an opportunity to practice some other kind of solution to the difficulty we are experiencing.

— Focus on the positive things you do and the good qualities you have. We often become angry when we have spent too much time and effort being aware of problems, and very little on how many positive accomplishments we make. Remember to congratulate yourself and attend to those actions and personal qualities you have that help you feel worthy and worthwhile. If nothing else, learn to be positive about how well you manage your anger. It is certainly worth the effort.

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