Coping With Anger

If you are someone who is not normally very assertive, that does not mean that you do not feel anger: but it may mean that you are someone who stores anger and resentments. which build up to the point when a 'last straw' may cause an outburst of anger and rage. This may feel so frightening that you may then resolve to keep our emotions bottled up - until the next time.

If you bottle up your angry thoughts you may brood on them at length, and sometimes feel angry without knowing why. You may also bring back memories of earlier resentments to justify why you feel so bad. There is a direct link between suppressing angry feelings and depression.


For some people being angry is a way of life. They behave angrily a lot of the time. Some people have learned that it is a way of getting what they want. For others it is a way of exerting power over others, or they do not know how to handle strong feelings, or cannot distinguish between a minor irritation and a major issue. If you are one of these people, you will have found that there are short term gains, i.e. you may get your own way, but it has few long-term advantages and even in the short term, can lose you the people you care about.


The way we experienced anger as children, has a big influence in determining how we express it as adults. It may be that angry feelings were not `allowed' in your family, you may have learned that other people would not approve of or like you if you showed angry feelings. It may be that you have seen so much anger in and around your families that you have learned no other way than to be aggressive, or it may be that because you saw so much anger, you will be determined to keep your resentments bottled up.


Whether you consider yourself to be a 'bottler-up' or someone who expresses anger too much and to often, you can learn new ways of dealing with it.

For everyone, it is more helpful to tackle things earlier so that feelings are acknowledged and expressed as they happen, rather than as a backlog of resentment.

For the 'bottler-up', there is a destructive pattern :

This pattern will continue until you break it. You can do this by acknowledging each small resentment, firstly to yourself, and then, if you feel it is appropriate, to the person concerned. It will often be enough just to 'register' the feeling, and 'name' the irritation to yourself, and then let it go. In this way you are `allowing' yourself to be angry with someone else, rather than assuming that you are in the wrong.


Deal with each irritation as it happens - see above

Get to know the signs that, for you, mean that you are near to losing your temper

Calm down. Detach yourself from the situation, and postpone your angry thoughts while you concentrate on your deep breathing. When you feel calmer review the options open to, you. Losing your temper will not be the only option, you could walk away from what is going on, or you could express how you feel in a more constructive way - or you could simply let it go.

Give yourself time - check what this argument is really about. Ask yourself:
Am I being over sensitive ?
Am I making a mountain out of a molehill ? Is this really that important ?
Is my anger really about this issue or does it belong somewhere else ?
Is it the `last straw', and actually very unimportant ?

Express your anger assertively.

Anyone can become angry, that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way that is not easy. [Aristotle]

Anger is a normal human emotion. Like all emotions it is spontaneous and is neither positive nor negative. All of us experience the emotion of anger, the differences come in whether we recognise it and how we express, or don't express, it. You may realise that dealing with anger is difficult for you, if:
You do not recognise that you are angry - or cross or irritated - until you have an angry outburst You do not recognise that you are angry but you are quite depressed
You feel anger building over a period of time and then an outburst of temper is triggered by something quite minor, or
You feel angry all the time and express it often, sometimes with violence and aggression
Anger used positively can be a release; it can be a tool of change; it can protect us from danger.
Anger can be less helpful if it is stored inside where it can add to stress or depression, or so often expressed that we intimidate or alienate those around us.
And anger released inappropriately, can be displayed as aggression or violence.
Self talk When you have managed to pull back from losing your temper, try and `let go' of the situation. Congratulate yourself on what you have achieved and think back rationally over what has happened.

Keep trying. What ever your problem with anger, you will have learned to behave in this way over a long time. Allow yourself time to make changes and keep trying when it is difficult. If you lose your temper, wait till you feel calmer and then apologise for going over the top. If possible patch things up And then try again

Don't immediately accuse the other person. Try and use sentences that start with `I' e.g. 'I feel ...', I'd
like to talk to you'
When appropriate accept responsibility e.g., `I know I should have been more careful,,,,', I feel angry
Be specific about what you need e.g., `I need you to listen to me...' "I'd like you to give me a lift `
If you must lay blame, be specific e.g., `I felt cross when you left your plates out' rather than, `You are
always so messy'
Don't make threats. This escalates the anger and increases the chance of confrontation
Don't sulk. This is passive but comes over as aggression, and It cuts off all hope of communication
Don't `second guess' what is on the, other person's mind. When you are both calmer, ask rather
than guessing
Check if you are really angry with this person or situation, or does he/she remind you of similar
people or situations ?
outbursts are often fuelled by unexpressed anger - unacknowledged anger can accumulate inside us and explode at a 'last straw'
see trouble coming and avoid it
deal with problems as they come up
avoid caffeine (coffee and cola) and alcohol which make losing your temper more likely
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