Emotions bring humans to life. They are innate and vital to give meaning to human existence. Some of the emotions have been attached to a negative quality or valence such as anger. We have been engineered to suppress it. As a result, we fail to acknowledge or validate it when it is experienced. 

Each emotion has a functional value. Anger has multiple purposes in our lives such as telling us what is uncomfortable, where our boundaries lie, what we need to stand up for etc. What is required is a healthy expression and utilization of anger which according to clinical psychologists improves quality of life.  Anger might sometimes be used as a defense against the sadness, anxiety, or disappointments an individual might be experiencing in different areas of their lives. To unravel the purpose anger serves in one’s life becomes crucial to successfully regulate it or use it to one’s benefit.

There are various strategies which famous psychologists recommend for adaptive management of Anger. Some of them are discussed below:

  • Understanding the Triggers: Being aware of what initiates the anger would be the first step to change the way one responds. Trying to reflect on what about a conversation or another person affected and in what ways is the first step to change.

  • Journal Writing: Maintaining a journal of triggers on a daily basis will help identify a pattern of  negative thoughts, beliefs or assumptions which might be causing an individual to lose control. This can also help unravel learned ways of responding or coping with situations.

  • Withdrawing from the Situation: Many times reacting to situations in moments where one is overwhelmed by emotions makes it worse. It is recommended to take a step back or stop a conversation when one realizes he/she is vulnerable. Taking a step back and reflecting on one’s emotions helps reduce the damage. This is the time when rationality can come in and the individual has a chance to respond and not react.

  • Breathing Techniques: Deep breathing techniques help an individual calm down the adrenaline response or high energy pumped in by anger. This helps an individual take control of the situation and approach it better.

  • Identifying possible solutions:  Healthy management of anger is also related to coping strategies an individual possesses. If the focus remains on what was painful, what the other did wrong etc, anger and disappointment is likely to increase. Rather, if the focus is on what can he/she do about the situation, possibilities emerge. Solution focused approach can help reduce what might be leading to anger.

Therapy or counseling offers a safe space where you can open up about difficulties regulating your anger. It is important to identify when anger adversely impacts your mental health and also people around. Not acknowledging that something is going wrong can cause permanent damage. A clinical psychologist can help you identify triggers and develop healthy strategies to achieve desired outcomes. Center for Mental Health, Pune is a place we offer anger management services amongst various others.