Understanding and Managing Your Anger

Understanding and Managing Your Anger
Anger is a normal and healthy emotion that everyone feels from time to time. Here are some tips to help you successfully deal with angry feelings.

Know why you’re angry.

Sometimes it’s easy to know why you’re angry, such as oversleeping or forgetting an item at the grocery store. When your anger is aimed at another person, however, the situation may not be as clear. In these cases, it’s important to ask yourself why someone’s words or actions made you feel angry.

  • Did the person overreact to a situation, or handle it poorly in some other way?

  • Did the person really mean what he or she said? Maybe he or she was also having a bad day, and didn’t realize how his or her words might affect you.

  • If you’re feeling criticized, is it possible that the person simply made a casual comment that you’re taking too personally? And if it was, in fact, an actual criticism, might there be some truth to it?

  • Could your strong emotional reaction be the result of stress, or is the anger you’re feeling toward the other person reasonable?

  • Did other events lead to your reaction? Is it possible that you’re upset for a different reason, and this caused you to lose your temper with another person more quickly than you normally would have?

  • Is it really anger? Anger can mask feelings of shame or self-doubt. Maybe the comment was about something you feel you aren’t good at, or have been criticized about before.

You need to decide if you are feeling anger, frustration, stress, or some other emotion, before you can start to deal with it properly.

Respond – don’t react.

Responding to a situation usually involves thinking ahead about what you’re going to say or do. Reacting, on the other hand, tends to be hasty, based on emotions, and often results in regret.

Managing your anger means choosing how to deal with a situation (“responding”), rather than being controlled by the angry feelings (“reacting”).

Take a time out.

Sometimes you must remove yourself from the situation to make sure that you respond, rather than react, to it. Instead of lashing out, take the time to clear your head. Focus on the physical feelings of anger and try to lessen them. Take some deep breaths or count to ten slowly.

A great way to release stored up energy is to exercise, so take a walk around the block if you can. Stretch or massage your neck or shoulders if you feel them tighten up with your anger. Sometimes just closing your eyes and picturing yourself in a favorite place will relax you.

The key here is to step away from the situation either physically or mentally so you can think more clearly, which will allow you to deal with it more calmly.

Communicate assertively, not aggressively.

Learning to communicate assertively is an important part of anger management. Being assertive means you can express yourself confidently and openly, without being hostile toward the person with whom you are speaking.

It’s normal to feel angry and frustrated when your needs aren’t being met, but it’s important to assert yourself in a clear and direct way. If you speak or act aggressively, the other person will likely become defensive or confrontational, which will only add fuel to your anger. Apologizing for politely making your needs known, on the other hand, may cause the other person to ignore your request. This, in turn, may add to the angry feelings you have.

In other words, the way you express your message is just as important as the message itself!

Being assertive rather than aggressive is a good way to open up honest conversation. It will allow you to get your point across in a way that will help the other person remain calm, while also cooling your own feelings of anger.

Adjust your expectations.

It’s healthy to set goals and expectations in your life. If you set them too high, however, anger and frustration may result.

Rethink your expectations. When your goals are out of reach, you’re setting yourself up for failure, along with anger. Create realistic goals and do your best to attain them, but be willing to make changes when needed.

These changes can be either upward or downward. Sometimes you may master a goal easily and need to challenge yourself to reach higher; other times you may need to lower a goal that you find unrealistic. This is an ongoing process and can help you deal with your feelings as you aim to be the best you can be.

Understand the other person’s viewpoint.

Understanding another person’s feelings or perspective can help you control your anger. If you take time to think about what someone else may be going through, and how that may be causing the person to behave, it’s easier to see how your own reactions or responses can either harm or help a situation.

If you want people to be more understanding toward you, it helps to be that way toward others. This lessens feelings of anger and helps open the door to more positive communication.

Change your self-talk.

That’s right – don’t say bad things to yourself about yourself. Don’t tell yourself you are a “loser” or a “jerk” if you give in to a moment of weakness, make a mistake, or are unable to accomplish something.

Constantly reminding yourself of your failures, rather than your successes, increases your feelings of anger. Focus on the things you do well or have accomplished instead.

Let go of resentment.

Holding grudges against people doesn’t help to prevent or lessen anger. Just the opposite happens: the longer you let anger “boil” against someone, the more likely it is to explode and cause you to do or say something you’ll regret.

Anger causes more damage to you than to the person making you angry. Letting go of your bad feelings will give you a sense of peace and calmness, and may even help to improve the relationship over time.


While you can’t always stop yourself from becoming angry, you CAN learn to deal with these emotions in a good way. Doing so will improve your emotional well-being and on-the-job success!

Receive email notifications when new posts are added: