ERI: Anger Management

Anger is one of the most powerful and controlling of all emotions.  It’s experienced much more frequently than people would like to admit. According to Dr. Henrie Weisinger, most people experience the emotion of anger between 8 and 10 times a day.

Anger is a strong feeling of irritation or displeasure. It provides physical and emotional responses that prepare our minds and bodies to act.  Anger, however, is a secondary emotion; when we’re angry, there’s something else going on.  The primary emotional triggers of an angry response are hurts based on past experiences, frustrations over things not currently going as planned, and fears or anxiety about uncertain futures.

Why Anger Management Matters

Because anger often is not properly understood and dealt with, it’s one of the most dangerous emotions. When we’re angry, we tend to lash out and react to things that happen, rather than responding appropriately.

This isn’t surprising, since the physical effects of anger get in the way of our rational capacities. When we’re angry, our heart rate increases, our blood pressure rises, and our body is flooded with adrenaline and noradrenaline. Our muscles become tense, our tone of voice gets short, and we can literally become red in the face.

Unfortunately, other people often know that we’re angry before we are, and that can have negative effects on relationships. And we often say things when we’re angry that we regret later.

Improving Your Anger Management

The way to improve your anger management is to develop a plan to deal with it in emotionally intelligent ways.

  1. Be aware of your anger. Determine what kinds of situations are likely to trigger your anger. Identify how you know you are getting angry, and think about how other people perceive your anger. Note times when you are most likely to experience anger.
  2. Admit your anger and accept responsibility for it. Ultimately, no one else can really “make you angry.” You hold the responsibility for controlling your anger and responding to events productively rather than reacting destructively.
  3. Remember the positive things that healthy anger can provide. It serves as an alarm and a source of energy. It is a source of motivation to act. And, when you can manage your anger in healthy ways, it can build intimacy and trust in a relationship.
  4. Determine who is going to have control. Either you control your anger, or it will control you. Make it your goal to be in control.
  5. Identify the cause. Define what is triggering your emotional response. Is it a hurt, or a fear, or a frustration? And is the most obvious source of your anger actually what you’re angry about?
  6. Choose your response. Determine how you will invest the energy that anger brings you. Rather than using it to tear down and destroy, use it to motivate you to change and building a better future.
Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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