Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. It is an emotional state with varying degrees of intensity and consequences. However, when it gets out of control and turns destructive, leading to problems—problems at work, in your personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life. Also it can make you feel as though you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion.
The Nature of Anger
Anger is “an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage,” according to Charles Spielberger, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in the study of anger. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes; when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.
People use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their angry feelings. The three main approaches are expressing, suppressing, and calming. Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive—not aggressive—manner is the healthiest way to express anger. To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others.
- Understand anger as an emotion
- Identify triggers and emotions underlying the anger
- Become aware of physical cues and behaviors related to anger
- Creating a time out plan
- Interventions such as relaxation, “I” messages, self-talk, cognitive restructuring
- Conflict resolution skills
- Taking personal responsibility