Controlling your anger before it controls you

“The things we do, the reactions we have…they truly do make a difference in our life and in the lives of others as well.”

Anger is something that everyone feels at some time or another.  It is an emotion (or a feeling)  which, if not controlled, can get way out of hand and actually have devastating consequences.  First one needs to understand what anger is and how it pertains to them so that they can learn how to control it when it rises its ugly head. 

When one is angry it usually  begins from a mild state of downright annoyance to (if left unchecked) to outright anger.  What happens with emotions is that emotions and feelings change constantly in our life.  When we begin to get angry our body’s functions change as well.  As anger brews our feelings go crazy, our adrenaline rises, and our blood pressure can go way up as well. I know feelings change constantly…but anger needs kept at bay (as they say) and dealt with before it becomes a real problem in our life…and a real problem in the life of the ones we take our anger out on and the consequences from what can happen to us from a fit of anger.

Many things, or people and situations, can bring anger on. Things can trigger our anger and if we don’t learn how to control situations…we can totally lose control.  Someone cuts you off in traffic, your boss or someone says something that just ticks you off, a loved one doesn’t do as you think they should do…and out pops that anger.  What you do with your anger is important.  Are you going to have a melt down on someone else…or are you going to learn to control your anger so it never gets out of hand again?  You have a choice here how you handle situations.  Many things can trigger our anger but what we do with it (from the beginning) and how we react to it…is what is important. 

So what do you do when you get angry?  Many go from 0-100 in a moment.  They just get so enraged inside and don’t stop to consider that their anger can cause them and others devastating consequences.   But…since anger is also a normal response to danger and threat one needs to understand the difference and deal with the situation accordingly.  There are times that anger can also be a good thing when say our family (us, or others) are in danger.  God gave us a feeling in us so we can defend our self and others if there is a threat.  We want to survive and there is a time and place to fight back.  But…but…we need to learn to deal with in anger in a constructive way. 

We need to learn to cope with anger feelings so that we don’t lose it when not appropriate to do so. You can be positive in a healthy way instead of a bully in a destructive way.  You need to learn the difference and then how to do this.  Do you realize that you can express anger in a good way rather than in a way that harms you or others?  We need to express our needs, of course we do and can, but we don’t have the right to harm others to get what we want.  We can respect other people’s views and not agree with them.  We can do things legally instead of lashing out in anger. 

Okay…so you get angry.  Yeah we all do over something but we don’t need to lash out and hurt people when we are angry.  We need to suppress that anger into dealing with the issues in a good way.  We need to redirect our anger and begin to focus on positive things.  We need to take that anger to deal constructively.  Also….don’t turn your anger inside yourself for when you do what happens is you get hypertension, high blood pressure, and depression. So in redirecting your anger you need to somehow express it so that it doesn’t lead to problems with your health and at the same time not to lash out and hurt others. Not everyone will always agree with us and see things the same way we do.

We can confront and tell our side of the story.  We can tell someone why we feel as we do without lashing out.  People who are continuously putting others down, criticizing everything, and making mocking comments haven’t learned how to constructively express their anger. When we go after others in an angry way what happens is we get their dander up as well and it won’t fix the situation nor will it fix relationships. We each need to take a step back when we feel anger coming on….think about the situation in a positive way, and think what is getting us to get mad.  Take some deep breaths, pray…..and walk away for the time being if possible.  If you are a person who loses it then you need to think about what you are saying and doing because once you say or do something you could end up regretting it…and you can have major consequences for the actions you take.  You also can’t undo the hurtful things you say!!!!  Someone might forgive you but in the back of their mind they heard what you said!

Many people are taught to accept the feeling of anger, but not to accept the feelings that may have preceded it; such as feelings of hurt, fear, or vulnerability. Sometimes when we feel hurt or vulnerable, we immediately jump to anger because that’s more acceptable to us.  Somewhere in our own mind we think lashing out is a better alternative than to deal with the issue in a manner that we have not learned.   In this context, it becomes a lesser emotion, it’s the feeling we can endure rather than such feelings as hurt or weakness. No one really wants hurt or to be made to feel like they are weak. 

Anger will become unhealthy when it gets in the way of your functioning or your relationships; if anger is causing you to lose family or friends, put your job in jeopardy, if people complain to you about your anger, if you hear people talking about you having a bad temper…well…these are signs that your anger is getting in your way, and therefore it’s unhealthy. Does any member of your family fear you?  Do they wish you wouldn’t come home because they never know what kind of a mood you will be in?  Do you drink and/or do drugs and lash out at people?  Do you hang out with people that encourage a bad behavior?  You might want to think not only about your relationships with your family, friends, and others…but who do you allow into your life that is not a good example for you. There also is an anger where people “lose it” by outrage, smashing things, yelling, and attacking people because they get so angry.  The thing is you can control your anger and when you feel yourself getting angry…stop…pray…and think about what you are doing. Get some professional help, talk to a friend, talk to clergy…but get some much needed help.   Anger outbursts can hurt people and anger outbursts can cause serious consequences to the other person and to you. There are also times that one can go to the doctor and the doctor give them some type of anti-depressants to help  reduce anger issues and many types of anxiety.  The better way though is to get help to learn to deal with the anger issues you are feeling.  Meds can help but and cover some things up for a time…but they don’t change you inside. 

Okay so why can two people live or be in the same type of situation and one handle it well and the other lash out in some way?  . We are affected by the understanding we have of an event…any event. Some people become angry because they read something into an event which could cause hurt or pain that can eventually translates into anger. Somebody else either reads something else into the event or doesn’t read much into the event at all, and therefore doesn’t feel the anger. If we want to be real here just think of our nation and the politics for the last couple years.  One person can deal with the situation of the country in a good and positive way while the next person loses it and goes off on everyone.  We need to change our perception of things not to agree with what we don’t agree with…but…we need to deal in ways that don’t tear down our country but build it up.

Think a moment on the abuse of others.  In particular, the violence that many women and children face (primarily from men but some women are just as abusive as well) is a result of anger. Anger can very much affect other people if it’s tied into threat of violence, or into violence itself. It also tends to shut down the people who are around the angry person. Angry people may find their relationship becoming less open because people are afraid to argue back. This can be devastating, and ruin relationships. We all need to think and adjust what we say and do so that we don’t hurt anyone else because we feel we are having a bad day and things didn’t go as we somehow thought they should go.

You can attempt to process your anger.  Just why in the world do you feel the way you feel right now?   Think through the situation and what is the right and wrong way to deal with it. Get clear about what your underlying feelings are. Take a “time-out”. Remember, anger is a feeling that is here today, gone tomorrow and what you choose to do at that very moment can not only hurt others but change your life as well.  There are consequences for hurting others. Go somewhere (such as in your car or other safe place and yell all you want…but don’t go off on other people.  You never have the right to harm your family just because you are angry.  You do not have the right to hurt your spouse or children in a fit of anger. 

Think about this for a moment:  Do you really have the right to be angry about the situation?  So…what if someone doesn’t agree with us?  So what if they have their own opinion?  We will never please everyone and they surely won’t always please us either.  In your mind you most likely think they should react as you do in a given situation and when they don’t you begin to get angry.  We all have a right to believe what we believe and why we believe a certain way.  We can give other people our opinion why we feel a certain way…but they have the same right.  Don’t we want to change what other people  think and do so that if they don’t believe like we do that gets us anger. That’s part of the anger problem; so often people do things differently than we want. Getting angry is not going to change what other people do, and usually does not change or improve the situation that we are dealing with either.

The best thing for each of us when we begin to get angry is to sit back and look at the situation.  What good will it do if we get angry and lash out?  Who will it hurt?  Why doesn’t the other person feel the same way we do?  Do we really have a right to force someone to do what we consider the right way in any given situation?  No…..we all were born to feel and deal with things and you can take someone to water let’s say…but you can’t make them want to drink that water.

If you are struggling with anger then take a look at why you are feeling as you are.  Really take a look at it.  Tomorrow will it matter?  A month from now will it matter?  Five years and so on will it matter?   The key to resolving anger issues is to get in touch with what is going on inside yourself, and to take care of yourself. Being frustrated by your anger plays into being more angry. If you really are having a struggle with being angry, recognize it, and give yourself a chance to work with it, to figure out what’s fueling it, and how you can let go of it. For a few people, emotions, particularly like anger, can become like a habit; addictive in their pattern. They get a release of endorphins every time they get angry. But most important to remember, is anger is best used if processed, rather than acted on spontaneously.

Yes, we can tell someone we are angry and why and that for the time being we need to deal with the issue so it doesn’t come out as full blown anger.  Other times you just might need to get away from the situation so that you can cool down.  So what we can say to another person is, “I’m feeling hurt, abandoned and angry about what you just did”. Unfortunately, what happens to a lot of people is they sit on things, then it all comes out in an angry outburst. Within this context, it’s important to let a person know you’re angry in a way that’s not deliberately hurtful to them. It’s important to understand anger, and to view it not as a separate and unwanted feeling, but rather one of the many feelings. We need to be willing to let others know how we feel about all feelings, not just anger. Revealing feelings can leave us feeling vulnerable, and therefore, it is true.

There are those one might call a “hotheaded” and that person can get angry more easily and more intensely than the average person does. There are also those who don’t show their anger in loud spectacular ways but are chronically irritable and grumpy. Easily angered people don’t always curse and throw things; sometimes they withdraw socially, sulk, or get physically ill. Some don’t have tolerance for frustration…inconvenience, or annoyance.  They slowly brew and get infuriated by the circumstance instead of really looking at the situation. Some people will hold in their feelings because they don’t want a confrontation in any form…but…holding things inside can do damage as well.

Are some children born irritable?  Are some born with a short fuse?  Are some more touchy than others?  Do some children get this way because of possibly how they are treated by others growing up?  Do they get, as children, encouragement and love or are they constantly humiliated and put down?  Many things come into play that is true but each of us needs to look at our self and work on us and stop blaming others because we have an anger issue.  It is rather easy to play the blame game on why we act as we do…or…we can take a serious look at our self and find a way to deal with our problems in a good way instead of lashing out in anger. It is best if we each try to find out what triggers us getting angry?  Then once we have done that what can we do so that certain things won’t bother us. 

Sometimes we just need to get alone and take some deep breaths to calm down.  There are many good books and tapes that can help with this. 

  • Breathe deeply, from your diaphragm; breathing from your chest won’t relax you. Picture your breath coming up from your “gut.”
  • Slowly repeat a calm word or phrase such as “relax,” “take it easy.” Repeat it to yourself while breathing deeply.

We need to program our minds in the way we think. Angry people tend to curse, swear, or speak in highly colorful terms that reflect their inner thoughts. When you’re angry, your thinking can get exaggerated and overly dramatic. Try replacing these thoughts with more rational ones. For instance, instead of telling yourself, “oh, it’s awful, it’s terrible, everything’s ruined,” tell yourself, “it’s frustrating, and it’s understandable that I’m upset about it, but it’s not the end of the world and getting angry is not going to fix it anyhow.”

Be careful of words like “never” or “always” when talking about yourself or someone else. “This !&*%@ machine never works,” or “you’re always forgetting things” are not just inaccurate, they also serve to make you feel that your anger is justified and that there’s no way to solve the problem. Never and always should not be used in confronting people!!!! They also alienate and humiliate people who might otherwise be willing to work with you on a solution.

Remind yourself that getting angry is not going to fix anything, that it won’t make you feel better (and may actually make you feel worse).

Logic defeats anger, because anger, even when it’s justified, can quickly become irrational. So use cold hard logic on yourself. Remind yourself that the world is “not out to get you,” you’re just experiencing some of the rough spots of daily life. God is not out to get you either.  He is giving you opportunity to get help and to deal with what is going on in your life. 

No one wants to get hurt or disappointed.  When we don’t get what we think we want or deserve somehow some think it is okay to get angry and demand things and when their demands aren’t met, their disappointment becomes anger. As part of their mental reorganization, angry people need to become aware of their demanding nature and translate their expectations into desires. In other words, saying, “I would like” something is healthier than saying, “I demand” or “I must have” something. When you’re unable to get what you want, you will experience the normal reactions—frustration, disappointment, hurt—but not anger. Some angry people use this anger as a way to avoid feeling hurt, but that doesn’t mean the hurt goes away.

Angry people tend to jump to—and act on—assumptions, and some of those assumptions can be very inaccurate. The first thing to do if you’re in a heated discussion is slow down and think through your responses. Don’t say the first thing that comes into your head, but slow down and think carefully about what you want to say. At the same time, listen carefully to what the other person is saying and take your time before answering. Listen, too, to what is underlying the anger. For instance, you like a certain amount of freedom and personal space, and your “significant other” wants more connection and closeness. If he or she starts complaining about your activities, don’t retaliate by painting your partner as a jailer, a warden, or an shackle around your neck.

It’s natural to get defensive when you’re criticized, but don’t fight back. Instead, listen to what’s underlying the words: the message that this person might feel neglected and unloved. It may take a lot of patient questioning on your part, and it may require some breathing space, but don’t let your anger—or a partner’s—let a discussion spin out of control. Keeping your cool can keep the situation from becoming a disastrous one.

Prayer works wonders.  Stopping and listening works wonders.  Not reacting in a hurtful way but trying to see things from others point of view…works wonders.  Let each of us today try to search our self and see what it is that triggers anger in us and then find solutions to help us and to help those we somehow lash out at.  You can do it!!!!!!! 

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