Anger Self-Help

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What is Anger?          Expressing & Controlling Anger        First Aid        Anger Links


What is Anger?

We all feel angry some times.  Some people tend to become angry easily (a "short fuse"), and some have problems controlling their anger.  Anger has consequences, and they often involve hurting other people - more usually their feelings, but sometimes physically.  Anger can cause problems in your personal life, and affect your work.  The after-effects of anger often make a person feel guilty and ashamed, but anger is a normal emotion. 

Anger generally results from our feeling helpless or unable to control certain situations. We feel as if we are trapped by circumstances and can't see any way out.

Unresolved anger can cause relationship breakdown, physical and mental health problems, criminal activity etc

Anger is the body's response to an event (eg road rage), to another person (colleague, boss, partner etc), or caused by anxiety - worrying about personal problems.  It is the body's way of helping us to cope with either fighting, or running away.  (Fight or flight response)    Our body and emotions feel like a coiled spring - the body is ready now then, to fight or run - and those feelings need to be expressed.  If you feel unable to express those feelings in a way that wouldn't hurt yourself or others, then you'll need to find other ways to express that anger.


Expressing and Controlling Anger

The instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Anger is a natural reaction to threats; it allows us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked.   We need a certain amount of anger to survive.

On the other hand, we can't physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us. 

 People use a variety of ways to deal with their angry feelings.

Expressing your angry feelings assertively, not aggressively, is the best way to express anger. To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others. Being assertive doesn't mean being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others.

 Anger can be suppressed, and then converted or redirected. This happens when you hold in your anger, stop thinking about it and focus on something positive. The aim is to convert the anger into something more constructive.  Physical exercise is very effective.   Different people have different interests or hobbies.  Perhaps your feelings can be redirected into one of those - something creative such as art,  music or drumming, dancing, sports or any of the distractions listed on the Keeping Well page.

 Calm down!  This means not just controlling how you act,  but learning to relax.    See Anxiety Self-Help and  Relaxation - and particularly the breathing exercises

It is important to find out what is causing you to feel angry - and then find ways of dealing with that.  Identify what triggers your anger, and why.  Talk to others who are involved, and together try to find ways of removing that trigger. 
Avoid alcohol -  If you drink you will have less control over your actions.  Alcohol is most often the fuel behind violence.


First Aid

Walk away!  Come back later

It's easy for others to say "count to 10" but there is some merit in doing so slowly.    Concentrating on counting, and just giving yourself time will help. 

Take deep & slow breaths, thinking about nothing except your breathing  (See Relaxation page)

Go out for a run (or walk) around the garden, in the park, around the block, or along the beach etc  (or bike ride)

If all else fails - thump a cushion, kick a bean bag (DON'T do anything that will hurt yourself or someone else)

When you feel calmer - learn to talk to those you were with at the time, and explain why you were feeling that way - calmly!


If you feel unable to control your anger, then it would be wise to seek help - from your doctor, your community mental health nurse, from friends and family, from self-help groups etc


Anger Links

Anger Toolkit

Rules for Expressing Anger

Anger Alternatives Support Group

Helping Children Cope with Anger

Five Free Tips Help Release Anger

Controlling the Volcano Within

Stepping Back from Anger (children & divorce)

The Anger Workout

Anger & Conflict Resolution

Controlling Anger - Before It Controls You

Using Rational Emotive Therapy to Control Anger

Anger & Health

Overcome Anger & Aggression

Other Anger resources

See also conduct/behavioural links

Managing Anger  (Book)


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17 March 2002