Of all the emotions that we can experience, happy, sad, angry and scared, Anger has always been the one that’s the most ‘comfortable’ and ‘acceptable’. And by that, I mean that it’s the one emotion that we can see freely expressed. In many Asian cultures, emotions are oftentimes taught to be things that are to be suppressed. I remember conversations with my grandmother, who often told me to keep my happiness in check so that I don’t upset others around me who were less so, and other such conversations about how you should be sad at home, behind closed doors.
But anger seems to be unique in that it’s not often something that receives the same treatment. Many times, being angry is seen as acceptable, an ok emotion to be expressed. In some cases, it’s almost seen as something to be respected, where being able to be angry meant an expression of power or control.
The spectrum of human emotions have always, and will continue to be something that we’ll all experience, and an experience that will continue to add colour to our existence. A little bit of fear means that we’ll be on our toes and excited for what’s to come. A longing for happiness means that we’ll work towards goals and achievements. And sometimes, some anger is great to keep us driven and striving for bigger and better. But as always, too much, or too little of one thing is never where we want to be at, and learning how to navigate our anger, both too much and too little of it, is crucial.Not too little, not too much. All you need is just enough
The ability to be in control of our emotions, in particular anger is crucial to living an emotionally healthy life. Bear in mind that anger is actually a positive thing, as it brings to our awareness that something’s amiss or that we’re being wronged somehow. Being able to acknowledge that anger means that we can do something to right those wrongs, and find a sense of equilibrium again.
Being able to express our anger in a healthy way also allows us to be more assertive in the way we communicate with those around us, helping us communicate to others what we need to thrive. But it’s when the expression of anger goes overboard, when we lash out at others, or at ourselves that anger becomes problematic. People get hurt (ourselves included), things get broken, all hell breaks loose inherently. Much like fire, or the internet, a good thing left uncontrolled becomes pretty messed up pretty quickly.Let it burn! Actually, maybe just a simmer
So how do we make anger an ally to us? How do we reign it in so that we can channel it for good rather than destruction? These are some ways we can do just that.
- Acknowledge your anger. Don't try to suppress it or pretend it's not there. Accept that you're angry and that's okay. The more we try to avoid it, the angrier you’re going to get! Acknowledging it allows you to do something about it.
- Identify the source of your anger. What is it that's making you so angry? Once you know the source, you can start to fix what solves you. And maybe, it’s not something worth fixing, and ditching it entirely may be what you need to do.
- Take some time to cool down. Don't try to talk to anyone or make any decisions when you're angry. Take some time to calm down and collect your thoughts. Most problems are amplified and made worse by the emotions that we feel. The phrase ‘red mist’ is apt, as that’s what it can be like sometimes when we’re angry, everything’s just bad. The more separation you have, the more rational you can deal with your problems.
- Do something nice for yourself. Being angry can be uncomfortable to say the least. There will be times that this anger that you feel is a result of something that you did. Maybe you screwed up an exam, or disappointed a loved one, or maybe you just feel like crap that day. In times like this, indulging might be helpful. Indulge in a guilty pleasure or two! My personal favourites are ice cream and 90’s teen flicks.
- Express your anger in a healthy way. This could mean talking to a friend, writing in a journal, or going for a walk. Avoid lashing out, as with most cases, this can actually make you angrier. Studies have shown that engaging in aggressive physical behaviour, like working a punching bag or martial arts when you’re angry only elicits more anger, rather than it acting as a vent.
- Forgive and forget. Everyone makes mistakes, including you. Forgive yourself for getting angry and forgive the person who made you angry, because you know what? Life’s too short to be angry all day everyday.
At the end of the day, anger, and any other emotion that you can have is there to let us know what’s going on inside of us, and what we do with that knowledge and the energy that comes from our anger and emotions is up to us. Allow it to decide for you, and you’re in for a rollercoaster of a ride. But learn to reign it, and you’ve got a fantastic resource at your fingertips.
Take the Personal Anger Assessment and understand how you deal with anger and how to channel anger for better usage.