Everyone experiences angry feelings and it’s okay to feel them; that’s why, I’ve come up with some simple ways to cope with angry feelings. As we all know, it’s healthier to release angry feelings, rather than bottling them up inside. If we can transform them into something more positive, so much the better. Learning the triggers to what makes us angry in the first place, and finding ways to cope with angry feelings will allow us to live a much healthier life.
1. Intellectualize Them
One of the ways to cope with angry feelings is to learn why we become angry – the ultimate trigger, the root cause as it were. The book, “Anger Therapy” by Engelhardt and Katafiasz explains anger is a result of one of four conditions: our needs are not being met, our rights have been violated, we are compromising ourselves in some way, or an injustice has occurred. Whenever angry feelings arise within, ask yourself whether one of these four things have happened – chances are they have. If for example, you find that a certain need is consistently not being met, you might want to explore where and why that need originated.
The second way to cope with angry feelings is to learn what tell tale signs you give off before you lose control. How does your body react when you get angry - do you get short of breath, sweat or clench your fists? It’s useful to become cognizant of your self-talk as well. What are you saying to yourself - are you cursing and threatening the person in your head, are you egging yourself on? The more you become alert to these personal signs, you can potentially heed the adrenaline rush and neutralize a volatile situation.
3. Diffuse Them
By understanding what’s behind the anger and dealing with the tell-tale signs that cause it are some ways of coping. Another way is learning to diffuse your anger. I suggest counting to 10 or even 100! Maybe take some time out or remove yourself from the immediate environment. Going for a walk or waiting a day before you act on your angry impulses can help. By taking slow, deep breaths you give your body time to cool down from the adrenaline spike that comes with anger.
Transforming anger into something more positive can be another way of coping. It is okay to feel angry and when we can truly feel its sensations (the shortness of breath, the heat), we are able to open up to anger and work with it in a positive way. Disperse it, sit with it, watch it, feel it, talk to someone about it. Try using visualizations as a tool. For instance, watch your anger pouring into the Earth’s core and flowing back to the surface as molten lava inside a bubbling volcano. Then breathe in that transformed energy. Over time, you will be ready to act with more compassion.
If you can, try to think about the situation from the other side of the coin. Perhaps someone else was involved or you learned that some injustice occurred causing you to be angry. Try switching perspectives about the injustice or put yourself in the other person’s shoes. The practice of empathy will help you understand the situation better.
6. Keep Things in Perspective
I often see things in black and white and struggle myself to see the varying shades of grey, but by keeping things in perspective is another way of coping. Taking a step back from a situation, and deciding whether it’s worth getting upset over is a practical method for avoiding angry outbursts. It’s important to stand up for yourself if someone wronged you, but everyday annoyances that cause angry thoughts and feelings aren’t usually worth the negative energy expended, so try to keep things in perspective.
7. Mellow Techniques
Arm yourself with mellowing techniques that you know work for you. What calms you down when you are upset? It can be anything from controlled breathing to picturing a peaceful image or walking away from the situation before you erupt. As a general rule, surround yourself with people you find relaxing, and who allow you to safely vent your frustrations. Activities such as listening to soothing music, practicing yoga, going for a run, swimming, or drawing can help release pent up emotions you are holding unaware.
It's natural to feel angry on occasions, however, if you find yourself struggling with an overwhelming number of angry outbursts, the above tips do not replace tailored techniques from a licensed therapist skilled in anger management. You can always consider attending anger management classes or consult a licensed therapist. What are some ways that help you cope with angry feelings?