Anger is a very primitive emotion. We’ve all struggled to deal with it at some point of time in our lives. Being over perfectionist and leaving no room for mistakes, unpremeditated risks, incorrect judgments, verbal clashes, insult, getting cheated, stress – all of these can all lead to irritability and anger. Some of these reasons require anger to be channeled in ways that set the wrongs right and bring about a desirable outcome.
The problem arises when anger becomes uncontrollable and instead of promoting any good only causes damage to the impersonator. This prominently because of the anger getting vented out in unrefined ways, causing harm on physical and mental levels; and later also causing huge embarrassment to the actuator of such reactions.
This tendency if left untreated can lead to embracing violence for mundane issues.
The negative effects of anger have been observed throughout history. Advice for countering seemingly uncontrollable rage has been offered by ancient philosophers to modern psychologists.
Oftentimes anger occurs through automatic thought and irrational beliefs, these pose a problem for treatment because the patient may respond too quickly to change the thought or behaviour. Wright, Day, & Howells referred to this phenomenon as the “hijacking of the cognitive system by the emotional system“. In such cases purging the entire belief system may be the only complete and lasting solution.
Dealing with it in Everyday Life –
What is common to all coping techniques is — individual motivation. The affected individual should himself or herself be aware of the negative consequences of uncontrolled anger and be motivated to better manage their aggression. Understanding thoroughly the damage an individual is causing to himself and others because of unmanaged anger could be the first step in inspiring the individual to take a countervailing action.
Simply “Document it”-
The first technique of dealing with this emotion is “documenting” it. This practice of documenting emotions, if taken up during childhood itself would be highly beneficial. “Anger Journaling” works best for children. Understanding one’s own emotions can be a crucial piece of learning how to deal with anger.
Children who wrote down their negative emotions in an “anger diary” actually ended up improving their emotional understanding, which in turn led to less aggression. Needless to say, this technique works for adults as well.
Label Those Emotions –
Anger — its arousal, sustenance and triggered reactions (complete life cycle) need to be carefully analysed. In this technique an emotion is mentally labelled as soon as it is encountered.
Being mindful, labelling the initial flare of anger and observing the emotion creates space where one can step back to analyse and formulate a proper response. This practice develops perfection with rehearsal and is really useful.
An extension of the previous technique, the practice of mindfulness works well for all emotions including anger. The idea is to have a heightened non-judgmental state of complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis. It is easy to do with some practice and comes in a lot of different flavours to choose from.
The practice of mindfulness works well for all emotions including anger. The idea is to have a heightened non-judgmental state of complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.Tweet
Show some Empathy –
According to Ryan Martin, psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay — empathy for others can help counter anger. To illustrate what he means he recalls how one day he was going behind a car that was going extremely slowly. His first reaction was rage however he then paused and put himself in the driver’s shoes. He realised that the driver was probably frightened. “If we start to think of other people from another perspective, we essentially do the opposite of labelling them as bad” he says. “We might see there’s a perfectly good reason why they engaged in their behaviour.” At times this could also mean dealing with people who themselves have no control over their own rage or other negative behaviours.
Additionally, getting enough sleep, exercise and good diet are tools which can assist in preventing anger.
The purpose of this whole exercise is not to suppress anger but to better its management. Its success would result in a lot of positive changes in the individual’s life, like personal relationships that were previously strained by a high level of aggression may undergo improvement. At the end of it, you would surely thank this whole exercise for having helped you to keep your cool.
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