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Do you know how to dissect your anger?
I think most of us can say that we all deal with anger at times, but maybe anger doesn’t always have to get a bad reputation. Let’s dissect what anger truly is in order to learn how to respond in appropriate ways.
Anger in itself is not a bad thing.
It is what we do with that anger that determines whether it is producing positive or negative results in our lives. Sometimes anger forces us to yell, as I wrote about in Lessons From a Former Yeller, sometimes anger causes us to mistreat others or ourselves in different ways, and sometimes anger causes us to say or do things we wouldn’t have otherwise said or done. However, there are times that anger can be a catalyst to something good.
In general, emotions serve as warnings or signals to things that are happening, things that need to be addressed, or problem areas in our lives.
This could be unrealistic expectations we have of those around us, personal needs that have been neglected such as getting enough sleep, or someone who has been disobedient and needs to be corrected. For this reason, the emotion of anger can cause us to look for things that need to be addressed.
A second way that anger can be a catalyst to something good deals with the physical aspect of anger.
In other words, sometimes it takes getting angry to give us that final push we need toward taking action. We may have been annoyed by something before, but it was getting angry that was the final straw.
In order to use the anger we feel in a positive way, we need to first identify why we are angry. To determine what is the underlying factor of our anger, we need to understand the five basic causes for anger:
- Unmet expectations. Conflict in general is so often a result of unmet expectations. This would cover things like expecting your husband to be home from work on time for dinner when he comes home late instead, ruining your dinner plans.
- Circumstances beyond our control. Things like getting stuck in a traffic jam or a child getting sick at school and needing to be picked up, interrupting your day.
- A perception of something being unfair. If both you and your husband work full time, yet you feel the bulk of the housework falls on your shoulders. This perceived unfairness could make you feel angry.
- Physical pain. Slamming your hand in the cupboard door tends to make us angry.
- Delayed or unmet plans or goals. Perhaps you plan on leaving for the grocery store early on a Saturday morning only to discover that your husband has gone out for a run and left you with no one to watch the kids, forcing you to get a later start. Your husband derailed your plans, which can make you get angry with him.
Once you determine the underlying factor and put it into one of these groups, you will be able to separate the cause from the effect: anger.
This means that you can control the emotion of anger because it has now been separated from the catalyst that can then be either accepted as something that you can’t control or something that you can then deal with because you can find a healthy and effective way to address it. You can do this by making a change in you, prompting someone else to make a change in themselves, or changing something in your surroundings.
In summary, the next time you’re feeling angry, determine whether your anger is a result of unmet expectations, circumstances beyond your control, a perception of something being unfair, physical pain or delayed or unmet plans.
Once you have done that, deal with the root issue if possible, and respond appropriately whether it is to take action, adjust your own thinking, or address a problem in yourself or others.
Following these steps will keep you from responding to your anger in a negative way while also helping you keep a lid on your reactions. In this way, anger doesn’t have to control you through your mood, your emotional state, or your behavioral choices.