Anger: It’s Not the Feeling; It’s What We Do With It

blog-anger

Seriously? Not again!

Anger. We all know what that is. Anger is that emotion that we all experience, even though some will say they “never get mad.” Sometimes we show it. Sometimes we stuff it down, avoid it and hope it goes away. However we cope with it, we are all different.

Anger is defined as “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” Anger develops when we feel used, hurt, misunderstood, embarrassed or wronged in some way. We all have situations that upset or annoy us, sometimes to the point where we just want to blow, yell, hit and scream to get our points across.

Often times, anger is viewed as an unsafe and unproductive emotion. Only bad can come from an “angry person.” In reality, anger can be a safe, helpful and positive tool to help us resolve issues, feel more confident and communicate what we are feeling and thinking — when used appropriately. Anger can help other people see that something is not right and resolutions and answers can be created through communication. Anger does not always have to be viewed as “bad” when it is used in a constructive way.

When anger is addressed correctly and safely, it can be a great tool to facilitate communication, make change and find resolution to the things that cause us discomfort. When our anger is not used in a healthy way, or it is ignored, it can cause difficulties, not only with ourselves, but with our physical health and personal relationships. Anger can often mask other feelings that we are too nervous or afraid to deal with, like sadness, disappointment, fear and hurt.

When feeling distressed and annoyed, we must always remember to breathe, breathe, breathe, and try to relax our minds and our bodies. Developing a personal filter is also helpful in making us think before we react. Our words have lasting effects on those we direct them to, both positively and negatively. We need to be in control of our thoughts, our feelings and our reactions. We need to ask ourselves if what we are about to say is helpful or hurtful. Words are hard to take back.

It is also helpful to understand that sometimes a break is needed if tempers are too high. Learning to take space and walk away from a situation allows us to gather our thoughts and come back to the discussion when emotions are not running so high. It gives us time to think and develop a plan of attack and to have a more rational mind to address the issue. Time outs are not only for the little ones anymore. Adults, too, can benefit from them.

When we get upset, we often jump to blaming others for how we are feeling. This tends to puts everyone on defense mode and it is not the most positive way to share your feelings. Using “I” statements, instead of “You” statements, shows that you are taking ownership of your words, your feelings and your actions. It is an effective way to be respectful with your feelings and it opens the door to have those you are talking to hear what you are trying to say. When sharing your thoughts, be mindful and prepared to really hear what the other person is trying to say, as well. If you don’t understand, ask questions and don’t make assumptions. Understanding both sides of a discussion is an important tool to have when trying to create a solution.

Anger can sometimes be a scary and uncomfortable emotion to manage for some. We all deal with anger in our own way. No two people are alike. Understanding this can help to problem solve, resolve the issue at hand and move through the anger more easily. It is important to note:

  • there is not always an ultimate right or wrong answer
  • there is not always going to be a “winner” and
  • even the best efforts can still result in misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

The goal is to communicate respectfully, openly and fairly. When anger gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems.

Remember that it is okay to be mad. It is healthy to show our anger. It’s what we do with the anger that sometimes gets us into hot water. While anger is something some say we cannot control, what we do when we are angry is something that we can totally control. When problems seem to be too big, there are professionals, friends and appropriate supports out who can help when solutions do not seem possible.

sbergeron-small Sara Bergeron, MA LCMHC works with both children and adults dealing with anxiety, trauma and mood issues in our New London and Claremont locations. Sara brings a fresh approach to collaborating with clients to establish realistic and attainable goals and strategies to achieve their desired personal change.


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