Anger Management

Anger is a perfectly natural, healthy human emotion which may be expressed in a number of ways, including aggressively, non-assertively, assertively, or not at all.  Anger is a feeling, an emotion we feel at times.

Aggression is not the same thing as anger.  Aggression is a behavioural style of expression.

Before You Get Angry

  1. Recognize and allow yourself to believe, that anger is a natural, healthy, non-evil human feeling.  Everyone feels it, we just don’t all express it.  You need not fear your anger.
  2. Remember that you are responsible for your own feelings.  You get angry at what happened, the other person didn’t ‘make’ you angry.
  3. Remember that anger and aggression are not the same thing.
  4. Get to know yourself.  Recognize those events and behaviours that trigger your anger.  As some say, “Find your own buttons, so you’ll know when they’re pushed!”
  5. Don’t “set yourself up” to get angry.  If your temperature rises when you must wait in a slow line (at the bank, in traffic), work at finding alternative ways to accomplish those tasks.
  6. Learn to relax.  If you have developed the skills of relaxing yourself, learn to apply this response when your anger is triggered.  You may wish to take this a step further by “de-sensitizing” yourself to certain anger-invoking situations.
  7. Develop several coping strategies for handling your anger, including relaxation, physical exertion, working out resolutions within yourself.

When You Get Angry

  1. Apply the coping strategies you developed above.
  2. Make some verbal expression of concern (for example share with someone).
  3. Take a few moments to decide if this situation is one you wish to work out with the other person, or one you will resolve within yourself.
  4. “Schedule” time for working things out.  If you are able to do so spontaneously, fine; if not, arrange a time (with other person or with yourself) to deal with the issue later.
  5. State your feelings directly, with appropriate non-verbal cues (if you are genuinely angry, a smile is inappropriate).
  6. Accept responsibility for your feelings.
  7. Stick to specifics and to the present situation.  Avoid generalizing about the entire history of your relationship.
  8. Work toward resolution, not “victory”.
  9. Keep your life clear!  Deal with issues when they arise, when you feel the feelings – not after hours/ days/ weeks of “stewing” about it.  When you can’t deal with it immediately, arrange a specific time when you can and will.

Conflict is More Easily Resolved When Both Parties…

  • Avoid a “win-lose” position.  The attitude that “I am going to win, and you are going to lose” will more likely result in both losing.  By remaining flexible, both can win – at least in part.
  • Gain the same information about the situation.  Because perceptions so often differ, it is good to make everything explicit.
  • Have goals which are basically compatible.  If we both want to preserve the relationship more than to win, we have a better chance.
  • Act honestly and directly toward one another.
  • Clarify their individual actual needs in the situation.  I probably don’t need to win.  I do need to gain some specific outcome and to retain my self-respect.
  • Seek solutions rather than deciding who is to be blamed.
  • Accept responsibility for their own feelings (“I am angry” not “You made me mad”).
  • Are willing to face the problem openly, rather than avoiding or hiding it.
  • Agree on some means of negotiation or exchange.  I probably would agree to give on some points if you would give on some.
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