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Life Mantra
Anu Goel
Anger management: Expressing anger when required is a very healthy habit 03 September, 2016
"Anyone can become angry, that is easy...but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way...this is not easy." - Aristotle

Anger is one of the major forces fuelling our world these days. Our lives are filled with violence, war, hatred and aggression. We are living in a dog eat dog world.

What is Anger?

According to the American Psychological Association, "Anger is an emotion characterized by antagonism towards something or someone one feels has deliberately done one wrong." It is a natural and automatic response to the thwarting of our needs and desires. Such an obstruction leads to frustration and pain which further culminates itself into anger. Anger is the natural response to pain, be it physical or emotional.

Anger in itself is not much of an emotion. Rather, it is the feeling of revenge or the desire to ‘get even’. On a hot sunny day, just imagine yourself stuck in a bumper to bumper traffic jam. As soon as the light turns green, another car from behind quickly overtakes you and cuts in front of your car.

You feel a wave of anger subsiding over you and taking hold of your senses. Your instant reaction is to feel animosity and to inflict harm on the other person. You may start honking loudly or swearing or yelling.

Anger is often preceded by other emotions. Ergo, anger is also called a second-hand emotion. As we see in the above example, anger was preceded by the feeling of frustration caused by being stuck in a traffic jam.

It also works as a smokescreen for feelings of weakness and helps us substitute pain with anger.

Can anger be positive as well?

However, there is more to anger than meets the eye. There are many reasons for us to avoid feeling anger but it is a very natural phenomenon and one should not always suppress it. It need not always be a negative emotion. Expressing anger when required is a very healthy habit.

We experience anger a lot more frequently than we would like to admit. Most of us try to suppress it, redirect it or mask the anger and act like sensible, civilised beings. Venting anger is sometimes seen as a taboo by the society and we are shunned for indulging in it. Since all emotions have a unique purpose, anger also can be put to good use when treated in the desired manner.

  • Anger can work as a powerful motivating force. It can be channelled into pushing us forward to achieve our goals and desires.
  • Anger serves as a great way to register the suffering of wrongful injustice at the hands of someone. Showing your dismay when you have been wronged can provide to be very useful in a relationship. If you never unveil your sentiments, how will the other person know?
  • It provides us with a path to self-introspection. We need to learn to take notice of what causes us to be angry. It can lead the path to self-change.
  • Anger can be used as an effective tool in reducing violence. Since anger precedes violence, it can prove to be an indicator of impending violence. Hence, we have the power to control it.

The main problem arises when one fails to manoeuvre anger in a positive direction and lets it take control over one’s better senses. Anger can range from mere irritation to intense fury and rage. The instant natural reaction to anger is to respond aggressively. However, we cannot physically or verbally lash out at every person or object which infuriates us. This is where anger management comes into play.

Anger management is the skilled technique of deploying anger successfully. It does not encourage you to hold your anger in but merely teaches you to take control over your temper. It inculcates in you the quality of remaining calm and composed in the most challenging of tasks. Anger management educates you about the plethora of ways of dealing with your problems in a positive way. We become aware of the signs that we are getting angry and then take appropriate actions with the aim of cooling down.

If we don’t give a suitable way out to the red hot fuming emotion we call anger, then it can have severe consequences on our health - both mental and physical. One can suffer increased anxiety, high blood pressure and constant headaches by the stress caused by uncontrolled anger.

Anger can also manifest itself in various psychological disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder which is caused by unregulated emotions and thoughts and Intermittent Explosive Disorder, a disorder characterized by sudden furious outbursts of anger.

Explosion and repression are extremely unhealthy yet one of the most common manners of dealing with anger which cause further harm to us.  And this is why we need to learn constructive ways to respond in an apt demeanour towards anger.

Here are some of the utterly simple ways which you can exercise in your day to day life to divert your anger.

Anger Management Techniques:

1. Think before you speak

Do not let your anger take better control over your tongue and blurt out whatever comes to mind with the intent of harming the other person. Once you have said something hurtful, you cannot undo it. So, organize your thoughts before voicing them.

2. Express anger once you are calm

Once you have let go of the anger, try expressing it a non-attacking way which does not hurt anyone else. Talk about the issues, state your concerns.

3. Take a timeout and disconnect

Getting away from the situation and surrounding yourself with a few moments of peace and calm can do you great help in composing yourself. 

4. Exercise

Physical activity has proven to be a great release for anger not only as a short term solution but also in the long run as well.

5. DO NOT hold a grudge

Buddha rightly said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned”. Holding a grudge for too long never did anyone, let alone the person towards whom you’re angry, any good so you might as well let it go and live a peaceful life.

6. Relaxation skills

Try counting to 10 and then do that in the reverse in order to relax your mind. Whenever your temper starts to soar, try deep breathing. Think of positive happy images which might serve as an effective distraction.

7. Let your creativity out

Indulge yourself in fun activities such dancing, singing, writing, painting or dancing. Let out that steam by appeasing yourself via creative hobbies.

8. Laugh it out

A technique used mostly by old people, it aims at employing humour to overcome anger. Start laughing! You will automatically start feeling better.

9. Resolve the root cause

Once you are calm, try to identify the underlying causes and situations which lead to your anger and resolve them with a composed mind.

10. Seek help

If you think that even after using these techniques, your anger still seems out of bound, and then you should definitely seek professional help which might help you prevent the happening of severe consequences.

Before you let anger take control over you, you should take control over it.

The article is jointly written by Anu Goel (Counselling Psychologist) and intern Bhavleen G Singh

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
About The Author
Mrs. ANU GOEL is a Counselling Psychologist. She has practiced in Mumbai for 5 years, and is currently practicing in Delhi since the last 7 years. Goel, who can be contacted at 9313320146 and, is a member of the Counsellor's Association of India, and has been a guest speaker on several occasions.
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