Anger, like most other common emotions, is normal. It is a perfectly regular response to a situation that threatens to disturb our balance or equilibrium. It is one of our most developed coping mechanisms, one that we turn to in moments of frustration or when our goals, ideas or the people we love are threatened by factors that may or may not be in our control. While all of us feel this emotion on quite a regular basis, the ways we choose to express it vary vastly. What is a major cause of distress for someone might be completely inconsequential for another.
Broadly, the ways in which we react to a situation that triggers anger in us can be classified into two states – positive and negative. When channelled positively, anger can be powerful. We all know how a moment of obvious injustice at work or even in our personal lives can spiral us into achieving what we ourselves did not consider possible. Unfortunately though, a negative response to anger is more common. Anger in this state is self-destructive, apart from being harmful for the people it is subjected to. Reacting negatively every time something angers us can damage relationships beyond repair and result in a loss of respect if our fears are unfounded. Not to mention, it also leads to major distress and can even lead to physical symptoms like increased palpitation, difficulty in breathing etc.
Most people resort to blaming their angry outbursts on external factors that are beyond their control. In reality, the way we perceive a potentially threatening or hurtful situation and the way we choose to react to it are completely in our control. Whether we make our reaction constructive or destructive lies solely on our shoulders and not on the stimulus that triggered or fuelled it. Learning how to diffuse this negative outburst and keep one’s calm in trying situations can thus, prove to be a life changing experience.
So, to avoid a situation where you are flying off in blinding rage, keep these few things in mind:
- Someone said/did something that has affected you negatively? Before you even react, pause. Take deep breaths. Tell yourself you are in control, you can handle this. And halt those negative thoughts immediately, no matter how strong the temptation.
- Be assertive. If injustice is being meted out, stand up and assert your point. But remember, being assertive does NOT mean being aggressive.
- Use empathy. This is easier said than done but try to put yourself in the person’s shoes and try to see what could have prompted him to behave in that particular way.
- Stay calm. Don’t let every small detail bother you. Don’t take everything so seriously.
- Listen. Mis-communication and misinterpretation have been the reasons behind many flared tempers. Being a good listener and not assuming anything helps.
- And lastly, forgive. This is because anger management should not only happen on the surface.