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6 Steps to Managing Anger

Anger is at the forefront of many negative aspects of today’s life; violence, crime, internet trolling and even terrorism usually have anger at the heart of actions. As with all emotions, however, balance is required. After all, we must remember that anger used to power important social movements such as Black Lives Matter and can reshape society for the better. We all experience anger as a normal human emotion.

On an individual level, anger can have a negative impact on our day-to-day. It can drive disconnection with friends and family which can lead to social isolation. Often anger can be internalised which can lead to ongoing mental health issues such as stress, depression, and anxiety. Therefore, it is important that we manage our anger so that it can be used as a helpful tool rather than being controlled by it negatively.

Types of Anger

As with all emotions, we can each demonstrate them in different and unique ways. Anger can be displayed in shouting and lashing out, cynicism, sarcasm, silence, criticism, rehearsing arguments in our heads, passive aggression, microaggression, banter, and doing the opposite to what you know the other person would want you to do. Irritation, frustration, and annoyance are also somewhere there on the anger scale. Identifying which ones you demonstrate the most, and when, is crucial in managing each situation more effectively.

Knowing When and Why you are Angry

Self-awareness is such a powerful tool. Take some time to reflect and notice how your body reacts when angry. What are your physical signs? What thoughts run through your head? Capture these reflections to better identify when anger is building or when it hits. Having this personal insight can make managing the reactions far easier.

Usually, your initial feelings are that of guilt, grief, hurry or injustice. This will then trigger the secondary feeling of anger. When this happens, it puts you automatically in a victim mindset and the other person or persons are the wrongdoers. This straight away puts the wrongdoer’s actions in the forefront of your mind, preventing you from taking any responsibility for your part in the situation. If both parties are in this mindset, you can easily see why we can sometimes end up in a stalemate situation.

6 Steps to Managing Anger (SOBER)

Stop – Take a moment before you react to take stock of the situation. By doing this you can feel more in control of the situation.

Observe – Your thoughts and physical signs. Ask yourself how acting from anger will help resolve the situation.

Breathe – The calming effect of focusing on the breath can give you time, space and clarity on the situation. You need to know the difference between defending yourself and attacking someone. You need calmness and clarity to do this effectively.

Expand – Now that you are in a calmer state, we need to test our victim vs wrongdoer mindset. Is our anger story true, or can we take the other persons perspective and maybe empathise with their position?

Respond – If you cannot manage these steps in one conversation, and it cannot be sorted with a quick apology, then consider taking some time to plan your next interaction. This may be a repeated situation where someone is consistently crossing your boundaries, in which case a well-planned approach is needed for the best outcome. Remember the outcome is far better if we can speak for our anger rather than from it.

(SOBER taken from Balanced Connection by author John-Paul Davies)

Claire is a Mental Health & Wellbeing practitioner living in Gloucestershire. She is passionate about creating psychologically safe environments for people to thrive. She is a busy working mummy to two children and a Hungarian Vizsla called Rufus. Claire enjoys running, yoga and practices mindfulness on a regular basis.