Anger Management Learning to Control Anger, Not Suppressing

Posted by: Rose Tol, R&I Life Coaching, February 22, 2013, Anger Management in Life Coaching

anger management

Anger is an emotion that we have all felt, whether it is felt as a fleeting annoyance or a full-on rage, we all know this feeling very well. Anger is a human emotion and completely normal and healthy to have but is often heavily judged and misunderstood. Anger management is there to help you learn to control this feeling where it is controlling you. This article endeavors to bring clarity to this powerful emotion and explain the true essence of anger management.

The Nature of Anger

The reason why it so easily takes over control is because this emotion is so powerful. In a way it makes one feel 'strong and powerful'. Going into the emotion of anger can completely change our physiology; when you get angry, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure goes up, as well as the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline and nor-adrenaline. Getting angry creates a lot of energy. That is why redirecting the energy of anger is a crucial part of anger management.

But we all know when this energy of anger gets out of control it can become a destructive force. It can destroy relationships, create problems at work. It can literally destroy the overall quality of once life.

If we go back to nature and look at the instinctive side of anger, this emotion is a natural response to upcoming threats, for instance if we were to be attacked; it creates a powerful and often aggressive energy which allows us to fight and defend ourselves and overpower our enemy. You could say that anger was a way necessary to our survival.

But as human beings we have evolved to a place where there are social norms to create safety and laws to enforce some of them. We can't just physically lash out at any person or object that we perceive as a threat, or worse irritates or annoys us. In order to live a healthy life in this world, anger management is crucial.

Having difficulty Controlling Anger?

To the person itself it can feel as though they were at the mercy of their anger; it had them act before they could think.
One thing to know is; The way you think, speak and act is ALWAYS under your control and we always have the choice on how to respond to a situation.

Anger is an emotion, when we do not 'move it' it can build up inside of us over time. Often we are not even aware of this happening. It starts in situations where we feel misunderstood, not listened to, disrespected, not seen, overruled, disregarded and rubbed up the wrong way. Our unexpressed feelings of anger build up and then the right moment or person shows up and we explode, and throw our anger all over. We say things we did not mean, do act in ways that we regret later. We react withing thinking and our behavior can have a negative impact on our relationships and create inability to work with others in the work place. These outburst can dramatically decrease the quality of our lives.

Unexpressed anger can show up in our behavior in covert way such as passive-aggressive behavior (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. People who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven't learned how to constructively move their anger. Not surprisingly, they aren't likely to have many successful relationships. Anger management in these cases is the key.

Anger can also become an addiction. Especially for people where anger gets triggered and the main feeling inside is of being small, powerless or insignificant. Anger can make you feel important, powerful and great. In this way people can become addicted to the feeling of being angry which makes it increasingly difficult to break the cycle.

Guilt is What Holds the Anger in Place

Right after an anger-burst we often turn the energy onto our selves, because we feel bad about we have done or said. It can even lead to deep feelings of self hatred and unworthiness. Anger is an emotion that is heavily judged in society and there for ourselves. So when we do burst out it creates a fertile ground for a great deal of guilt. Guilt is like the silent killer with anger management.

Guilt gives you the feeling that you have done something about the anger, feel guilty. And you feel you have handled it and dealt with it by feeling guilty. Guilt covers over your responsibility to get to the heart of the matter.

When you stop at feeling guilty, you have not gone to the root of your anger problem and it is just a matter of time before you get triggered again.


Guilt should be an important part of any anger management program.

Defense...a sure sign of suppressed anger

Are you a person that feels you have to defend your words or actions often? This is a sure sign for suppressed anger. You might fall easily in the trap of making others wrong, building a case against someone or making the offending person as badly as you do. This can develop into the downward spiral of negative emotions, resentments and even rage. If you are unaware of this dynamic and you leave it to grow and fester, it can have devastating consequences.

Sometimes we hear people say about a person that just had a devastating anger outburst: "He was such a gentle and kind person, would never do a fly harm". That is because this feeling of anger can fester and grow without to much notice on the outside.

Since all of us as healthy human beings have the human emotion of anger, and cannot always be to sure how it is suppressed, expressed or maybe hidden, we all should know the dynamics of healthy anger management.

The Emotion of Anger at its Core is Your Passion

Anger is an energy. It can bring your awareness to the fact that there is something that disagrees with you, that is not right for you, is not aligned with your values. If directed and moved in a positive way it is very useful. Anger is only negative if you let it control your thoughts, speech and actions and project it onto others inappropriately.

Anger is passion for truth

Anger is passion for clarity

Anger is passion for righteousness

Anger is passion for unconditional acceptance

Anger is passion for peace

Anger is passion for doing what is right

Anger is passion for unconditional love

Learn your Signs and Triggers

If you become aware of the early signs of anger or know what your triggers are you can have more control over situations in your life that bring out the anger. In some instances the wisest thing to do is to avoid a situation all together when you know there is high likelihood of you getting triggered.

How does anger feel in your body?

  • Knots in your stomach
  • Clenching your hands or jaw
  • Feeling clammy or flushed
  • Breathing faster Headaches
  • Pacing or needing to walk around
  • “Seeing red”
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Pounding heart Tensing your shoulders

As part of anger management It is important that you identify the negative thoughts that trigger your temper.

You may think that external things—the insensitive actions of other people, for example, or frustrating situations—are what cause your anger. But anger problems have less to do with what happens to you than how you interpret and think about what happened. Common negative thinking patterns that trigger and fuel anger include:

  • Overgeneralizing. For example,“You always interrupt me. You NEVER consider my needs. EVERYONE disrespects me. I NEVER get the credit I deserve.”
  • Obsessing on “shoulds” and “musts.” Having a rigid view of the way things should or must be and getting angry when reality doesn’t line up with this vision.
  • Mind reading and jumping to conclusions. Assuming you “know” what someone else is thinking or feeling—that he or she intentionally upset you, ignored your wishes, or disrespected you.
  • Collecting straws. Looking for things to get upset about, usually while overlooking or blowing past anything positive. Letting these small irritations build and build until you reach the “final straw” and explode, often over something relatively minor.
  • Blaming. When anything bad happens or something goes wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault. You blame others for the things that happen to you rather than taking responsibility for your own life.

With awareness you will be able to find your way with this powerful emotion. It is not about avoiding all things that trigger your anger, it is about managing this feeling inside when you become aware of it. A most powerful guideline is:

Think Before You Speak

Move Anger in a Positive Way in 10 Steps

So the next time when you are angry...

  1. PAUSE...Take a Breath...
  2. If possible leave the person or the situation. Excuse yourself.
  3. Blow of the extra steam, if you need to, by screaming in a pillow/towel, punching a boxing bag, running around the block or blowing a balloon. Find the tool that works for you AND JUST DO IT.
  4. Then sit down...take a few moments to calm yourself... then think of your anger as your passion, your passion for truth, for clarity, for love, etc.
  5. Anger is nothing more than a cover for hurt, frustration or fear " or all three. Try talking about what you're really feeling without using the word "anger." Instead, try saying, "I am hurt/frustrated/afraid of ..." What is at the source of it?
  6. Which one of the 6 basic human needs did not get met? When we are angry it is often because certain needs are not being met. Find out what they are and think about how you can fulfill the in a positive way.
  7. If feelings of feeling bad about yourself, guilt, judgments enter your mind, just focus away from from them by focusing on the questions and knowing that the feeling of anger is your passion for truth in some way.
  8. Take the time you need to calm down and find clarity.
  9. Only engage back into the situation or with the person when you are completely calm and have the clarity you need to move forward without judging yourself or the other.
  10. Acknowledge yourself for being in control of your anger.

Counseling can teach you how to use your angry feelings to create more positive and productive experiences. With professional guidance you can learn the skills to become more aware of your emotions and how to manage them. You can then make better choices about how you respond when you feel disregarded or disrespected, and ultimately improve your relationships with others. 

Make a decision to break the cycle.  Don’t let anger outbursts carry on. Take steps to end it by making an appointment to seek help today.

When to seek help for anger management

If your anger is still spiraling out of control, despite putting the previous anger management techniques into practice, or if you’re getting into trouble with the law or hurting others—you need more help. There are many therapists, classes, and programs for people with anger management problems.

Consider getting professional help if you:

  • You feel constantly frustrated and angry no matter what you try.
  • Your temper causes problems at work or in your relationships.
  • You avoid new events and people because you feel like you can’t control your temper.
  • You have gotten in trouble with the law due to your anger.
  • Your anger has ever led to physical violence.

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. You’ll often find others in the same shoes, and getting direct feedback on techniques for controlling anger can be tremendously helpful.

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