When angry, count to four;
when very angry,
We have all experienced anger at times when we did not want to feel it. It was inconvenient and interfered with what was going on at the moment. We needed to be logical, and instead we were flooded with anger and all the uncomfortable physical sensations that come with it. It was painful to experience the feelings, and we needed to get rid of the anger as quickly as possible, or so we thought.
Choosing not to deal with anger in the moment, for whatever reason, creates a new set of problems. Growing up in situations where we are taught that anger is not helpful at best, and dangerous at worst, we learn strategies to make the feelings go away quickly. This may help in the short term but in the long term, these strategies will cause bigger problems.
Here are ten common ways people deal with anger that will lead to future problems.
Do you see your favorite coping strategies on the list?
You feel anger, but as quickly as possible you forget what happened and that you were angry. This is also known as stuffing your anger. It can be done in a variety of ways, including self-criticism, changing the subject, shopping, eating, drinking, or gambling, just to name a few.
You do not even register that you are feeling angry. The reactions anger triggers in your body are not acknowledged. The Star Trek character Dr. Spock is a good example of this way of dealing with anger. Just stick to concrete ideas and block out feelings. If by chance you notice feelings they are discounted and considered unimportant.
Instead of getting angry at the person, thing or event that is the cause of your feelings, you direct it toward someone or something else. For example, Keith and Joel had a disagreement. Instead of expressing his anger toward Joel, Keith felt, “Road Rage” on the way to work.
You hold in your anger and all the energy that comes with it, and believe that doing so will not effect or influence you. Craig was angry because he was criticized at work for something for which he was not responsible. However, he said nothing. Growing up, his mother would say to him, “It is just as easy to feel happy as it is to feel anger. You can chose how you feel.” He thought that he could control his anger through the choice.
This is different from controlling you anger in that you feel the anger without any internal or external expression. You believe by doing this you can make the anger go away. The anger is stifled and leads to the next method of dealing with anger.
6. Feeling transformation or substitution:
You perceive anger as such a threat that you transform it into something else. Usually it becomes fear, sadness and/or depression. Nicki was taught to forgive others who wronged or hurt her. She would substitute feeling righteous for being angry. In her family, it was unacceptable to feel anger. It was only acceptable to feel what her family considered “good” feelings.
7. Turning Anger Toward Yourself:
Howard’s wife constantly criticizes him. Naturally, he gets angry at her. He will say he is angry because she told him he had done a poor job washing the dishes. Quickly, he will begin to criticize himself for being so negative toward his wife, and say he needs to be more patient and try harder to please her. Howard takes his anger at his wife and uses it to shame himself.
Rather than feel your anger, which you believe is unacceptable, you see anger in others that may not be there. Lois and Pearl are members of a club. Lois feels insecure about her value as a friend, and is shy. Pearl is confident and talks comfortably in meetings. Lois is angry with Pearl because she thinks Pearl takes up more than her fair share of the time in meetings. Lois believes that Pearl is angry at her for not doing enough in the club.
Simple anger – what we discussed previously as mild irritation - is felt as rage or fury. This rage gets turned onto someone or something that does not deserve it. This is how anger becomes dangerous. Megan grew up with a father who would express his anger in aggressive ways. She experienced her parents having loud fights. As a teenager, she would have loud arguments with her parents. She grew up to believe that anger could only be expressed by overreacting to a situation.
10. Assertive Confrontation:
A direct response to how I feel about the situation. In order to respond in this manner, it is necessary to be clear with yourself about what you are feeling and why. Betty and Angela worked in adjoining cubicles. Betty spoke on the phone in such a loud voice that it interfered with Angela getting her work done Angela found that her anger was growing with every phone call. After examining her feelings, Angela decided to ask Betty if she would be willing to do her a favor by lowering the volume of her voice while on the phone.
Anger is a complicated, misunderstood, and yet very important and useful emotion. It takes some time and effort to learn how to relate to your anger in a positive and helpful way. It is worth it.