Seven Steps to Manage Anger

Anger is a very common problem we face in our every day situation. Writer has written a blog post on anger management techniques on this website, but in this post, I will be discussing some other aspects of anger.

Anger covers painful feelings. It also covers upsetting feelings that make you feel weaker and smaller, and thus creating a need of the power boost. There is often an underlying feeling of fear and helplessness. Sometimes there is a variety of feelings which get masked under anger. These could being abandoned, shamed, betrayed, disrespected, humiliated, hurt, inadequate, invisible, criticized, rejected, manipulated, and controlled. There are situations when the person feels that he or she has been treated unfairly, taken for granted, overpowered, and made vulnerable. These underlying feelings can trigger the anger response in the person. They can diminish the person’s sense of personal power. You feel vulnerable when you experience one or more of these feelings and then you are more likely to interpret the event as wrong or unfair. Additionally, you will react automatically with the power boost that anger brings. You may learn to cover these hurtful feelings with your anger so automatically that you have not realized that the feelings are even there. Your focus becomes centralized on what you are experiencing underneath your power boost. It is essential to recognize and understand your painful emotions.

Anger is uniquely personal too. You may have noticed that every one reacts to a given situation differently. Each of us experience anger in our own individual way. Anger is also based on personal history. Each of us has learned a set of beliefs from the experiences that formed our personal histories. Abuse, for example can make you very vulnerable and you might begin to distrust your emotions and those of other people. In this way, we see that beliefs are linked to your feelings and to your responses to each of your current experience. The painful feelings that cause you to interpret anger are connected to your beliefs. Over the years you learn to change your beliefs and retrain yourself and become more realistic. Situations that used to make you angry, no longer elicit the same reaction anymore. Each of us can alter our mistaken beliefs by awareness and growth.

Following are the seven steps to manage your anger:

1.    Accept your Anger and Regain your Emotional Balance

The first and foremost step of anger management is to acknowledge your anger. Recognize that you are angry then you can regain your emotional balance. This will help you focus your attention on the healing and empowering information you will discover as you explore your anger. Almost everyone has some cues that help us identify that we are angry. These could be physical, mental, and emotional cues. Physical cues are changes in your body, like tight muscles, sweaty palms, clenched fists and teeth and upset stomach. Mental cues can be some distortions in your thinking and using absolute terms like always, must, definitely wrong and so on. When you begin to filter out the positive and focus on the negative aspect of the situation, you tend to make errors in your thinking and this can trigger your anger. Emotional cues can be feeling numb when angry. Anger can cause agitation and tears. You become unable to control  your thoughts and take charge because you are lost in a wave of angry emotion. You experience the absence of capacity to stay calm and solve the problem at hand. The adrenalin rush makes it hard to take control. In short, try to determine your own cue. Observe your experience over time and you will be able to notice which cue works for you the best. Once you have identified the cue, you will be able to do something about it.

The next step is to regain your emotional balance and this can be achieved via diaphragmatic breathing in order to allow an increase in the oxygen level in your system. Lie down and notice the pattern of your belly rising and falling with your breath. Inhale all the way down into your abdomen, noticing your hand (which is placed on your abdomen) rise as belly expands and goes down as you exhale. Take an exercise break and do some kind of workout to feel calmer and adopt a new perspective of looking into things. Talk it out technique, is also very helpful as it unloads you of your negative emotions. Make sure that the person you talk to is able to help you regain your sense of balance. Moreover, writing a journal or letter to the person who made you angry, can also help. You destroy the letter and don’t mail it to the other person. This is just for you to feel better. When you write the letter, pour your heart out without evaluating, judging and berating yourself. Do not worry about the punctuation or vocabulary. Let it be free style. The fact is that if you don’t write, you will live with the poison of the words. The words you write denote your intense feelings. Now that they are on the paper, your anger also gets contained within the finite limit of the paper. You have created a safe space within you.

2.      Pay Attention to Your Thoughts and Feelings

It helps to pay attention to your thoughts and feelings after the situation happened. Notice how you reacted to the anger provoking situation. What was about that experience that you felt was unfair? You explain to yourself why that situation triggered anger in you. This will help you gain more awareness about your sensitivity and reaction. Write your thoughts and feelings in your anger journal. It slows your mind and also enhances your memory. Additionally, it is also helpful to create a comfortable, private space for yourself. Try to be a good friend to yourself. Recount your experience during and after the event.

3.      Recognize your Worth and Potential

Give yourself validation and use an affirmation that you were wronged by the other person and deserved better treatment from the person who made you angry. In other words, you feel that you personally have some value and you are important. Feel empowered that you are worthwhile. When you feel valued, you will feel positive. Generally, when we are angry, we go to other person and seek for reassurance but seeking validation from yourself super cedes this. You have to feel the worth within.

4.    Identify your Unmet Need

Now that you have written your feelings and know that the other person has wronged you, time for transformation has come. Try to find out what is your unmet need. In this step, you review your feelings and name their cure. For example, if you felt that you were unheard, disrespected, and ignored, the cure will be for you to have the opposite so that your unmet needs can be gratified. You will know that it is important for you to assert yourself and communicate to the other person why you felt angry, as opposed to keeping it to yourself. A need is vital to your well being and once you realize which of the need was unmet, you can do something about it. Try to name your needs so that you can strategize your next step.


5. Take Action to Meet Your Need

Once you have identified your unmet need, the next step is to do something to meet your unmet need. You have gained new insight into your anger now, it is now time to heal and take actions. You will be able to face the adversity of life much better once you take charge to meet your needs. Furthermore, you will be able to interpret the situation much better and your reaction will be different with your newly developed insight. Take small, manageable actions to meet your need. For example, if your unmet need is not getting respect, what else can you do that will help you meet this need? May be you can join a volunteer organization, which gives you a leadership role and you begin to get respect from the members of this organization. Your unmet need will thus be fulfilled. Change might take some time so have patience and don’t expect instant results. It is a gradual process. Always, remember to pat yourself on your back when you succeed in your goals. Feel good about your accomplishments.


6. Explore the Other Person’s Perspective

Once you have accomplished success and you see a change in your self esteem, you are ready for the sixth step, which is exploring the other person’s frame of reference. This step involves the other person’s frame of reference and an evaluation of their unmet need which triggered him or her to act that way. People have their own unmet needs and sometimes they do things to satisfy their own unmet needs. Until you know what this need is, and why the person was unable to truly see you, you will continue to see this person narrowly. To you, this person will remain enemy, rather than a whole human being. Because you have formed an opinion about this person, you will fail to be objective and your perception will become narrow. You can only associate this person with the injurious behavior he did. However, when you widen your horizon and take the blinders off by completing this step, you will make room for the other person, for their shortcomings. This will help you increase your ability to see the other person and also dissipate your anger. This is a step which personally empowers you. You create your own growth and begin to see the other person more fully. You might show sensitivity to the other person by understanding that may be the person was emotionally upset by some events in his or her life. Why did he act defensive? Was he angry about something in his life or her life? There may be some blanks but imagining these things, will certainly be of great value to you.


7.  Forgive the Other Person

Forgiveness is an act of kindness that we do to heal ourselves not to condone someone else’s actions. It helps you set free from previously upsetting experience so that you can move on and let go. To forgive, has three aspects: first, it means that you accept the reality of what happened, second, forgiving means that you recognize the healing and growth that you have accomplished, and third, forgiving means that you wish healing and growth for the other person, so that their frame of reference can widen and they can gain wisdom and  knowledge. This allows you to unhook from the hurtful incident. Now that you hold a new belief about yourself and have affirmed what you have gained from taking actions to meet your needs, you can see yourself as strong and balanced person.

Wishing the other person growth is also an act of compassion. Once you recognize the frame of reference of the person who hurt you, you can wish them healing and growth as you wish for others. You will generate good feelings and improve your relationship as well.

In this way we see, that the above seven steps are instrumental in making you a better person and help you cope with your anger. Through your commitment and hard work, you will gain maturity and wisdom. You will be emotionally balanced and calmer and less likely to react adversely when someone makes you upset.
Hypnosis can also help with anger management and assist with calming techniques such as deepeners to get desired outcomes.Please visit our Blossom Hypnotherapy page to learn how hypnosis can help reduce symptoms of Anxiety disorders.


Reference: The Gift of Anger, by Marcia Cannon, Ph.D

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