While anger is a vital part of our range of emotions and is a legitimate feeling, it is how we respond to and express anger that can cause problems.
Anger is a basic human emotion, common to all of us – its OK to feel angry from time to time. That’s where understanding our anger and using anger management strategies can help.
Anger is often associated with frustration. Anger may arise when things don’t happen the way we want or people don’t act the way we would like. It’s usually a reaction to a ‘trigger’ event or emotion, which can include feeling embarrassed, guilt or shame, jealousy, stress and a host of other reasons.
When we are angry, there is nearly always an underlying need or want that has not been met. Sometimes this is something material (such as money) or it can be a desired emotion such as wanting to be respected or loved. Understanding our anger can be difficult, as it is often not immediately apparent where it is coming from.
Sometimes anger is justified and appropriate to the situation, at other times it is not.
When anger starts to gets out of control, it can have enormous effects on our physical and mental health. It can also hurt your career and relationships with others.
How do I know if I need help?
These questions can help you identify if anger is becoming a problem that you should think about addressing through anger management.
Anger management strategies
Recognising the signals of anger and becoming aware of how your anger works is the first step to change.
Anger has signals in our bodies, our emotions, our thinking and our actions. The goal of anger management strategies is to not to supress these emotions but reduce the ‘heat’ associated with your emotional feelings by offering alternatives that can help you manage them better. You can’t get rid of, or avoid, the things or the people that may anger you, but you can learn to recognise anger warning signs and control your reactions.
Anger management techniques
Anger management techniques focus on recognising the ‘warning signs’ that you’re getting angry and implementing techniques that can help diffuse the anger before it escalates.
There are many different strategies that can help you manage your anger before it gets out of hand. You can learn more about some of these strategies in our anger management toolkit, or our MensLine Australia counsellors can help talk you through some of these techniques, as it’s important to find those that work for you.
- Time out – take a break for a bit
- Controlled breathing
- Use calming self-statements such as “Cool it. You can handle this.”
- Relaxation skills
- Changing beliefs that contribute to anger
- Physical activity
- Problem solving strategies
- Write things down or compose an unsent letter
- Learn assertiveness skills
- Better Communication
- Work on responses that help with your anger – develop a list of things to say to yourself before, during and after situations in which you may get angry.
Know when to seek help
Learning to control anger is a challenge for everyone at times. Seek help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or hurts those around you.
There are heaps of resources out there to help manage your anger, such as support groups, books and courses. A qualified counsellor or psychologist can also help you manage other problems that may be associated with anger, such as depression, violence or personal relationships.
Learn more about anger management and find the right strategy for you
MensLine Australia Changing for Good program
Changing for Good is a program to help men stop using violence in their family and relationships.
We work with men to help them recognise their abusive behaviours and end their use of violence. By providing ongoing support, specialist counselling and resources, our goal is to help men make and sustain changes in violent or abusive behaviours as well as attitudes that support violent behaviours. By working with men to end their use of violence, we help to increase the safety of women and children who have or are experiencing domestic or family violence. To find out more, visit Changing for Good.