How to Managing Anger: Beyond Control
A reflection on the process of managing anger and giving up controlling it completely.
Feeling anger and not being able to control it is one of the most unpleasant experiences of our life, in addition to bringing us the most difficult consequences to solve.
Anger leads us to raise our voices, impose ourselves on the other, generate more conflict than existed, and after that outburst of anger comes exhaustion and worry.
It can occur in your relationships, social or family, or also at work (conflicts with peers, with a work team, or with the people we serve). Can we avoid it? How to manage it?
The keys to anger management
On many occasions, we feel that our greatest difficulty is communication. It is difficult for us to say things if it is not with anger, with imperative or imposing ideas.
However, although communication is a behavior that can and should be worked on to improve our well-being and personal relationships, the real origin of the problem is not communication, but emotional.
What does the way we communicate depend on? Of our emotional state. Anger makes us interrupt, impose, yell or maximize the damage of what happens. Our relationships are hopelessly deteriorating.
Many people request a professional company to live a process of change where they improve this part of themselves. Although at first, they believe that the problem is one of communication, later we discover that it is really about emotion management (communication is due to how we manage communication).
In this article we have the following objectives: first, to discover what anger really is, how you are managing it, and what it causes in our relationships and well-being.
Second, discover what is the real problem behind these expressions.
And finally, see how you can fix it thanks to your own personal change (a deep, stable, and lasting change, not just with tips or patches).
My name is Rubén Camacho, psychologist, and Human Empowerment coach. In this article, I bring you the main experiences of the people I have accompanied in their change processes and who had this problem in the last 11 years.
The meaning of anger
Anger is an intense and unpleasant emotional experience in which we believe we are right. Our anger leads us to think that something inappropriate is happening and we try to remedy it through aggression.
First of all, anger implies that we want to be in control over what happens … and it is an interesting paradox since the mere fact of having problems with anger implies that we lose control.
It is important to understand that anger, as an emotion, is not necessarily a negative emotion. Negative emotions are a common but impractical concept. All emotions are positive by their very nature, as we feel them to adapt to situations. However, what we feel does not depend mainly on those situations, but on how we understand and manage those situations.
In the same way that insecurity can help you protect yourself and act wisely, or fear helps you isolate yourself in relation to an event that worries you, anger is an emotion that helps you express something that is happening and that you do not like or do not want, exactly like a dog barks (we want something that is happening to stop happening).
Anger can help you, then, to set certain limits. If you witness some kind of injustice (towards a child, an old man, an animal) and it bothers you and you feel anger, that anger can motivate you to help a person or limit unpleasant behavior. The problem is not anger … but how you understand and manage anger, in such a way that it is too intense, frequent, and long-lasting.
Common problems related to anger
Some of the consequences of living with dysfunctional anger are as follows.
In your love life
The relationship ends up being linked too much to these episodes of anger, it generates discomfort, exhaustion, discouragement, and a gradual and increasing disinterest in the relationship (anger is only useful for a few seconds, never for several minutes).
You may have noticed that after a couple’s argument we feel exhausted. It is an exhausting experience in both an emotional and physical sense. Anger exhausts us because in it our neuroendocrine system secretes the same substances as when doing intense exercise … but without any benefit to your health (quite the opposite).
In your work area
Anger hinders the relationship with others, damages trust, creates a greater distance and communication becomes more opaque. With anger, we pretend to be in control but lose it even more.
At work, we need to generate bonds with confidence and assertiveness to be able to meet common objectives. Anger creates an unpleasant environment, even if only from a temporary episode
In your social or family area
The human being is a social being, we need links in which to find trust and support. Anger hinders the quality of these bonds and isolates us, damaging both your mood (anger leads to discouragement because of how exhausting it is) and your trust in others.
Although anger seems to be a problem in and of itself, it is always a consequence of something else. It comes to us because we understand that what happens is not appropriate and we intend to change it . But we cannot control what happens, neither the behavior nor the decisions of the other.
In the same way, we can establish clear limits and reach agreements, but always within assertive communication and not with anger.
Where does the problem come from?
Anger implies that we want to be in control because we fear the consequences. If at work we fear possible consequences in relation to projects, dates … anger will make us try to control the behavior of others.
If anger arises in your relationship, it is because we fear the consequences of the other’s behavior (if they do not behave or value as you want, if they do not accept demands or meet expectations, etc.). Anger always implies fear. It is a type of active fear.
When fear cannot paralyze us or make us escape, it links us to anger, just like the animal that attacks when it can no longer hide. How can we manage something so deep so that it does not condition us so much?
Managing anger is not controlling it …
One of the most common mistakes we make with anger is thinking that we need to control it. Like I said, trying to control an emotion that implies that we have already lost control does not make any sense. Furthermore, controlling is equivalent to repressing. What happens if you leave a pot full of water covered and on the fire? Finally, it explodes.
That is what happens with anger. When we try to control it, it explodes with more intensity. Anger, like any emotion, cannot be controlled … but rather understood and managed, so that it is not so intense, frequent, and long-lasting.
The most important step is to discover how you are now managing your anger. What or what are the situations that make you feel angry? What do you interpret from those situations or experiences that lead you to feel anger over and over again? What are your behaviors in relation to anger?
We usually think that emotions provoke behaviors, but in reality, it is the behaviors that make us manage emotions in a certain way (and the emotion reappears at the moment in which a similar experience arrives since that association has been established ).
The only way to learn to understand and manage not only your anger but all your emotions (anger, discouragement, distrust, insecurity, fear, guilt) is in your own personal change.
What would have to change in you for the rest to change? How could you interpret the situation to see it more openly? What limits do you need to set in your relationships? What experience should you avoid before it appears? What value judgments do you make about others that lead to anger?