Anger is an emotion that we all experience at times, and it indicates that something has to be done. Anger is a normal, healthy emotion, but when chronic and out of control, it can have serious consequences for yourself and others.
Many individuals try to justify their behaviour and say that it’s not healthy to hold their anger inside and that it’s better to vent and let it out. Some people even believe that anger, aggression, and intimidation help them earn respect and get what they want and that they simply can’t help themselves or control it. These statements are nothing but myths about anger and anger management.
The facts are, that while it’s true that suppressing and ignoring anger is unhealthy, venting is no better. Anger is not something you have to “let out” in an aggressive way in order to avoid blowing up. In fact, outbursts and tirades only fuel the fire and reinforce your anger problem.
Furthermore, respect doesn’t come from bullying others. People may be afraid of you, but they won’t respect you if you can’t control yourself or handle opposing viewpoints. Others will be more willing to listen to you and accommodate your needs if you communicate in a respectful way.
Lastly, you can’t always control the situation you’re in or how it makes you feel, but you can control how you express your anger. And you can express your anger without being verbally or physically abusive. Even if someone is pushing your buttons, you always have a choice about how to respond.
Anger in relationships
Anger is not a sign that your relationship is doomed to fail. However, we unfortunately often hurt the ones we love the most – especially in relationships. Anger is particularly destructive in marriage and close relationships. Since we spend so much time together, the opportunities to get angry arise many times a day and because we know each others’ shortcomings so well, it is very easy to become critical and short-tempered with one another.
According to research, one in five people has ended a relationship because of how their other half behaved when they were angry. And 19% of people say their domestic relationships are the most stressful thing in their lives.
But surely a relationship is supposed to make you both happy and calm, not miserable and angry – so where are we going wrong?
We have unfortunately come to believe the unrealistic notion of romantic love, which has been fed to us through films, books and media from an early age. We put a lot of pressure on each other to make one another happy, but we don’t take responsibility for our own happiness.
Many of our relationship problems arise because we do not accept our partners as they are and we try to change them into what we want them to be. In Imago Relationship therapy, that Wellness TC3 promotes as a relationship intervention; the way in which problems arise are eliminated through wholehearted acceptance of one another. That means NO blame, critique or criticism. Love can not flourish in a toxic, negative environment.
Once we fully accept the other the way they are without the slightest judgement or reservation – then there is no basis for problems in our relationship. Problems do not exist outside our mind, so when we stop seeing the other or our marriage as a problem to be solved, they stop being problems.
Patient acceptance not only helps us, it also helps those with whom we are patient. Being accepted feels very different to being judged. When someone feels judged they automatically become tight and defensive, but when they feel accepted they can relax, and this allows their good qualities to come to the surface.
What to do if your loved one has an anger management problem
You may feel like you’re constantly walking on eggshells, but remember you’re not to blame for your loved one’s anger management problem. And there’s no excuse for physically or verbally abusive behaviour.
While you can’t control another person’s anger, you can control how you respond to it:
- Set clear boundaries about what you will and will not tolerate.
- Wait for a time when you are both calm to talk to your loved one about the anger problem.
- Remove yourself from the situation if your loved one does not calm down.
- Consider counselling or therapy if you are having a hard time standing up for yourself.
- Put your safety first – if you feel unsafe or threatened in any way, get away from your loved one.
- If you are in an abusive relationship, know that your partner needs specialised treatment, not traditional anger management.
Suggestions to get your anger under control
Explore what’s really behind your anger
Anger problems often stem from what you’ve learned as a child. If you watched others in your family scream, hit each other, or throw things, you might think this is how anger is supposed to be expressed. Watch Oprah Winfrey’s video about Imago Relationship Therapy and how your childhood affects your adult relationship.
Recognise anger warning signs and triggers
Anger fuels the body’s “fight or flight” response so while you might feel that you just explode without warning, there are physical warning signs that your body is preparing to react. Recognizing these signs allows you to take steps to manage your anger before it boils over.
Learn ways to diffuse anger
Once you recognise the warning signs, you can take steps to manage your anger before it spins out of control. Exercising; managing your stress levels; connecting with friends and family; and adopting a healthy lifestyle will do wonders to keep your anger at bay.
Know when to seek professional help
If you’ve tried these anger management techniques and your anger is still spiralling out of control, you may need more help. There are many therapists, classes, and programs for people with anger management problems. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
Own your feelings
One of the first things we do when angry is blame and shame the other person for our feelings. By saying “I feel” instead of “you make me feel” we take ownership of our own feelings. It doesn’t mean that your partner is right. It only means that you need to focus on yourself so you can express yourself to your partner, allowing you to work together to find solutions.
Don’t take it personally
When we realise that 99% of what others say and or do to us is actually all about them and not about us, we can start to let people resolve their own issues instead of allowing ourselves to believe that it’s critique. Remind yourself that your partner is coming from his or her perspective and personal experiences. Your own perspective and feelings are not important at this time. If you are able to do this for your partner, you will see big, positive changes in your relationship.