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Can anger issues be fixed?

It's important to understand when anger is helping us and when it is harming us.

Anger, and when it is an issue

We have all experienced anger at some point or another in our daily lives. Experiencing the emotion of anger is a natural, valid, necessary and appropriate. Anger is a basic emotion that could either be triggered by external or internal events.  If we retrospect, one or more of the following would have elicited an anger response within us:

External events

  • An unwanted situation causing stress
  • Undesirable or unjustified action of another person
  • Our needs not being met by the other person 

Internal events

  • Being hurt or unhappy or frustrated with either a person or situation
  • Some memories, unresolved problems or interpersonal conflicts
  • Unrealistic expectations from others and life

Experiencing anger alerts us to an imminent threats like trespassing, injustice, disrespect or pending physical or emotional harm. Though experiencing anger is a natural adaptation to an unfavourable event or situation it can become an issue when:

  • It is excessive
  • It is expressed inappropriately 
  • It is not expressed at all or is internalized 

Expressing one’s anger excessively as fury or rage, can put one at risk for heart-related problems and hypertension. Anger when experienced or expressed too intensely and frequently causes a physical stress on our body and mind. 

Inappropriate expression of anger either verbally or physically can make one come across as being aggressive, hostile and even abusive. This could put other people on the defensive and can sabotage personal and professional relationships. 

Anger when built-up or suppressed can also cause a stress reaction in our mind and bodies. Childhood experiences that caused anger or rage might have been suppressed due to inability to express at the time. Pent-up anger makes us constantly think of the person or event and leads to either suddenly express anger or turn the anger inward.  Long term supression can also lead to mental health issues. When not regulated or channelized one could also displace anger onto the wrong person or situation instead of the actual source. This often leads to misunderstandings and interpersonal conflicts.

Fixing anger issues 

Anger issues arise when one is having difficulty in regulating the emotion of anger. While it’s natural to experience anger; it’s helpful if we can regulate and express it in an effective manner without causing harm to either oneself or others.


The following could help in regulating and expressing anger

  • Being aware about your anger issue: This is the first step to managing your anger. We can become aware of our anger issue by:
  1. Knowing what triggered the anger
  2. Knowing the reason behind the anger experienced
  3. Knowing whether the feelings of anger are justified or based on misperceptions
  • Regular practice of relaxation techniques: We know that anger can cause physical stress on our body such as increased heart rate and shallow breathing. Regularly practicing deep breathing exercises and muscle relaxation can help soothe or diffuse anger.
  • Expressing anger in an appropriate manner: Any emotion that’s being experienced needs to be expressed. This holds true more so for the emotion of anger. Therefore, expressing the feelings and frustration associated with anger in a calm and collected way helps in regulating the feelings of anger. Using other methods of expression like journalling, writing poetry or making art can also help.
     
  • Communicating one’s needs and wants: Effectively communicating our needs and wants to the person can help in setting the right expectations from others. 
     
  • Seeking professional help: If you have tried the above and if you feel your anger is spiralling out of control, you may need to seek professional help.  A certified counsellor or psychologist could help you understand and manage your anger issues effectively.

Reference:

Controlling anger before it controls you: http://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control.aspx
Anger Management: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/anger-management.htm