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Anger Management Tips: Is My Anger Healthy?

Anger is a  powerful emotion that can stem from feelings of frustration, hurt, annoyance, or disappointment. It is a normal human emotion that can range from slight irritation to strong rage. From time to time, everyone can lose their cool or get angry. Losing your temper can cause problems in many of your important relationships with friends, family, colleagues and of course partners. This blog post is focused on helping you to identify the difference between healthy and unhealthy anger.

Healthy anger is categorized by continuing to think in a balanced manner, even though you are feeling reactive and upset. You still feel in control of yourself and you behave in a non-threatening way to those around you. Below you will find a checklist of the aspects of healthy anger. Review these “healthy anger” points to see if these aspects apply to your thoughts, behaviors and reactions:

  • Allowing others around you to live in accordance to their own personal rules
  • Thinking realistically about whether other people have deliberately acted negatively/badly towards you
  • Considering that both you and the other person involved might be both right and wrong to some degree
  • Making a concerted effort to understand the other person’s point of view
  • Asserting yourself in a respectful manner
  • Looking for evidence that the other person may have not behaved with negative intent
  • Staying in the situation and trying to resolve the disagreement
  • Some degree of muscular tension/minor shaking/feeling a bit hot/slightly elevated heart rate
Unhealthy anger is quite different from healthy anger…this means that you are thinking in a very harsh way about someone else and behaving in an intimidating manner. When you are experiencing unhealthy anger, you most likely feel uncomfortable and completely consumed. Unhealthy anger generally lasts longer and is more intensely uncomfortable. Review these “unhealthy anger” points to see if these aspects apply to your thoughts, behaviors and reactions:
  • Rigid/unflexible demands or rules about how other people must behave or not behave
  • Insisting that others must not disrespect you
  • Assuming automatically that those around you have deliberately acted in an unpleasant way towards you
  • Taking the stance that you are 100% correct…and others are 100% wrong
  • Refusing to consider the other person’s experience or point of view
  • Actually lashing out or wanting to attack another person verbally/physically
  • Venting your anger on innocent parties in your life (friends/family/animals)
  • Sulking or stonewalling (blocking the other person out)
  • Intense muscular tension/trembling/shaking/clenched jaw/raised heart rate
Getting angry in an unhealthy way can have many negative results. Some of my clients think that their anger has positive benefits, but usually they come to find that they are more articulate and effective when they are in control of their anger.

Below you will find some basic anger management tips:

  • When you start feeling angry, try deep breathing or positive self-talk.  Breathe deeply from your diaphragm instead of taking shallow breaths. Slowly repeat a calm word or phrase such as “relax” or “take it easy.” Repeat these words to yourself while breathing deeply until the anger subsides. You can read my post on this subject here: http://www.synergeticpsychotherapy.com/2011/10/02/methods-for-gaining-self-composure-my-top-chill-out-tips/
  • Try to practice patience in your daily life. You can read my post on this subject here: http://www.synergeticpsychotherapy.com/2011/10/19/the-practice-of-patience/
  • Although expressing anger is better than keeping it bottled up inside, anger should be expressed in an appropriate and safe way. Frequent outbursts of anger are often counter-productive and cause problems in your relationships. Anger outbursts are also stressful to your nervous and cardiovascular systems and can make health problems worse.
  • Learning how to use assertiveness is a healthy way to express your feelings and get on the road to having your needs met.  Learn to assert yourself, expressing your feelings calmly and directly without becoming defensive, hostile, or emotionally charged.
  • Try to gain a different perspective (and empathy) by putting yourself in another’s place.
  • Learn how to laugh at yourself and see humor in trying situations.
  • Practice your active listening skills. To learn more about active listening, you can visit my post here: http://www.synergeticpsychotherapy.com/2012/01/13/active-listening-101/
  • Listening can help improve communication and can facilitate trusting feelings between people. This trust can help you deal in a more effective way with difficult emotions.
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