You stupid idiot…get off the road…where did you learn how to drive! Do these words sound familiar to you? Unfortunately, the expression of anger is commonplace in our culture. We laugh hysterically when we watch characters on our favorite TV show get angry and in the case of the Incredible Hulk we are in anticipation of him getting angry. Anger is a healthy emotion and can be a positive emotion when expressed appropriately.
1) RECOGNIZE ANGER WHEN YOU ARE EXPERIENCING IT, WHICH IS SELF-AWARENESS.
Many people do not really understand what anger looks like in their life. The reason is many people have the misconception that an angry person is limited to someone that yells or screams to make a point. Perhaps like Chris Brown in the Good Morning America dressing room? However, anger manifests itself in each person differently. For example, there are people that express themselves by getting loud, slamming doors (this is called an aggressive style of expressing anger). While others express it by not saying anything or avoiding it (this is a passive style of expressing anger). Another common way of expressing anger is by giving the cold shoulder, or agreeing with the person you are angry at then turning around and doing whatever you want (this is being passive-aggressive).
It is necessary to identify what angers us the most, whether it is something in our physical territory or a blow to our self-esteem. In doing this, we also discover which relationships, life challenges, and time of day that will lead us to being most vulnerable to getting angry. This discovery is very powerful because when we know exactly what threatens us the most, we can reclaim our power and create a more positive outcome. Here is what I really want to get across, that if we don’t invest in understanding what gets us to the state of being angry we will not be able to express it in a healthy manner.
2) EXPRESS ANGER APPROPRIATELY WHEN IT OCCURS THROUGH ASSERTIVE COMMUNICATION.
When you’re angry, how do you express it? For example, do you say “you made me so mad,” “ You know how to push my buttons”…so on and so forth. It is important that we use “I” messages when we communicate our frustrations to other people. This will reduce defensiveness from the listener by not accusing them. “You never” is an attack that will cause the listener to put their guard up. Example of an “I” statement…I feel unimportant when you do not look at me when I am talking to you. I get frustrated because I think you are not listening to me. When we use aggressive communication by blaming, name-calling, we cause others to be on the defensive. A healthy form of communicating our anger is by being assertive. Assertiveness is to stand up for yourself by expressing yourself honestly and appropriately. Assertiveness sounds like this: “I felt hurt, when you said I was stupid” or “I felt disrespected, when you lied to me”.
3) HAVE A GAME PLAN TO COPE WITH LIFE’S STRESS TO REDUCE ANGER IN OUR LIFE.
It is important that we learn how to cope with our stress to reduce the anger in our lives. The stress level in our lives is directly related to our anger. Therefore, we must know what kind of stress affects us, so we can learn how to manage it. A few ways to handle stress is first with humor (not to take ourselves or others so seriously), second, seek support by connecting with others. Support groups play a major role in overcoming our challenges. Third is passion, find something you truly love and do it! After all, like the incredible hulk, I don’t want to see you when you get angry.