Anger - managing the anger in your life
anger; fear; frustration; violence; hurt; fight; emotion; conflict; resolution; abuse; assertiveness
You are sure to get angry sometimes – everyone does! Anger is a normal emotion and there is nothing wrong with being angry.
What matters is how we handle it and what we do when we are angry.
Anger can lead to dangerous situations unless you learn to recognise and manage it.
Reachout https://au.reachout.com/ - is a site with info about managing tough times, and it has lots of topics about anger such as:
Headspace - the National Youth Mental Health website (https://headspace.org.au/ ) also has information that you might be interested in within their topic
Content of this topic
How anger can be helpful
Anger can help you by driving you to reach your goals, handle emergencies and solve problems.
Anger is also useful to:
- notice when you or other people have been treated unfairly
- help you protect your emotional well-being
- allow you to stand up for yourself and your rights
- show disapproval when someone breaks social rules or 'norms', eg. you might get angry at Joe when he 'beats up his girlfriend' because you see violence as very harmful, illegal and not OK
- lead to changes in the way our society runs. When a group of people get angry over the same things, they might join together to change the situation, eg. lobby a politician, march against racism or protest against war.
Anger can cause big problems
If you frequently lose your temper, you may find it can:
- be hard to keep friends, partners, family or employment
- make yourself and other people miserable
- lead to loneliness and unhappiness
- lead to violence - this is harmful to others and illegal, and you may be charged with assault, or other crimes.
If you feel low or have little control in your life, you can sometimes use anger to manipulate or make others afraid of you. It is never OK to use anger to hurt people in any way!
On the other hand, when people ignore their anger, it has nowhere else to go, and can often turn upon its owner.
- become depressed or anxious
- use drugs and alcohol to "cover it up"
- feel ugly, horrible and hate yourself
- hurt or punish yourself
- explode - often over little things that wouldn't normally worry you
- aim it at people who had nothing to do with the original cause of the anger
- let anger take over your life!
Managing your anger
Your first reaction to anger may be to attack, hurt, destroy and defend!
- This can lead to your hurting someone, or hurting yourself.
- It can lead to damage to property and making really bad choices that may lead to lasting problems in the future.
To manage anger safely you need self-awareness and self control.
- Self awareness is the ability to notice what you are feeling and thinking and to work out why. Little children can't do this – so they often have tantrums when they can't get what they want. Teens can be self aware.
- Self control is about thinking before you act, and making a choice.
Stop and ask yourself why you are really angry.
- Is it because you are afraid?
- Do you feel you have been treated unfairly?
- Did someone say or do something that embarrassed you?
- Did something hurt your feelings?
- Did you feel a lack of respect for you and your needs?
- Does it remind you of another experience where you were hurt?
Starting to take
To get in control of your anger – rather than having your anger control you – you need to think about what you have been doing when you get mad. Do you yell and scream or do you withdraw and sulk? Do you hurt people with words? Do you throw things or break things?
People often don't like themselves when they behave like this, and other people won't like them either.
Every-one can change – but only when they really want to. Everyone is in charge of their own behaviour and makes their own choices about what they do.
Anger produces a lot of power and energy. It can be hard to think clearly and work things out when you are angry. You may need to work out ways of reducing it until it is controllable and you are able to use it to make things change.
- Take a deep breath and count slowly from 1-10 while you breathe out
- Get away from the person or situation you are angry with
- Do something physical to use up some of the energy, eg go for a walk or a run, clean your room, throw or kick a ball, dance
- Scream as loud as you can into a pillow or outside in a place where you can be alone
- Listen to music – loud, or quiet and soothing
- Write all your angry thoughts down on a piece of paper then tear it up into satisfyingly small pieces
It is not a good idea to drive, ride a bike or operate machinery when your anger is out of control.
The steps to managing anger
1. Work out why you are angry – put it into words so you can act rather than react -
"I feel angry because…"
2. Think of possible options before you act.
- Maybe you could yell and shout - but would it be helpful?
- Maybe you cheat (sneak out if mum says you can't go somewhere) - but what would happen if you do this?
- Maybe you could work out what she would like you to do, so that she will then help you to get what you want
3. Think through what might happen next.
- Yelling at mum might mean you are grounded
- Sneaking out might mean she won't trust you next time either
- Doing what she wants might mean she will do something extra for you, like take you round to your friend's place
4. Make a decision about which one of your options is the best choice, and act.
- Use a quiet voice to tell what you are feeling
- If anger becomes too much then walk away until you are back in control.
5. Think about whether this worked and why. Would you do the same again?
to learn and practise
Being assertive is about standing up for yourself without getting upset or losing your temper.
- It is about listening, then saying things like, "I hear what you are saying but have you thought about…"
- It is about being able to agree that you are not going to agree, but that it's okay for each of you to have your own opinions.
- It is about toleration and compromise.
- It is about knowing how to stand your ground without being threatening to anyone.
- Have a look at the topic Assertiveness - what it means
Anger is a strong emotion. Strong emotions can get in the way of clear thinking and commonsense. Conflict resolution skills are helpful when dealing with strong emotions
Conflict resolution is about:
- working through the problem
- listening to and respecting each other's opinions
- finding a solution that is win-win.
Have a look at Conflict and negotiation.
Getting help to sort things out
If anger has become a problem in your life, you may want to visit a counsellor. They can help you explore personal issues that help you to stay angry most of the time. Many people get help when they feel the things they're trying on their own aren't working.
If you are angry because of bullying or discrimination, there are laws and policies at school or work to deal with this. Talk with your teacher or a counsellor or equal rights representative and find out the steps you can take.
If you're angry because you are the victim of a crime, ring your local police (131 444 in South Australia) or a legal advice service to gain further information.
Lawstuff can give you info about legal issues in Australia http://www.lawstuff.org.au/
with the anger of other people
If you can see that someone is getting angry and out of control:
- your safety is most important, so step back and stay quiet.
- speak quietly and calmly if the angry person is asking questions.
- if the situation looks like becoming violent then go and get help from a trusted adult.
If someone in your home is often angry it is not your fault.
- No one can make someone else behave in angry ways. Everyone needs to control their own anger and not allow it to take over their minds and bodies.
- If you feel unsafe - talk with a trusted adult. It is not 'dobbing' on someone if you are in an unsafe situation. You and the person who is unable to control his or her anger need some help.
- Work out what you will need to do to keep yourself safe.
- Have an emergency fund stashed to get yourself out of there and round to your trusted friends.
- Have a small bag filled with basic essentials ready to go in case you have get out in a hurry.
- Don't lose your temper or react, just avoid eye contact, stay calm and quiet and walk away as soon as you safely can.
- Call the police if you fear for the safety of yourself and others who are there.
- Parenting SA have a guide about Family violence which may be useful.
- There is also a section on Reachout - Violence
to go for help
- If you are in danger, call the police on 000 or 131 444 if the situation is not so dangerous
- Child Abuse Report Line 131 478.
- Kids Help Line Phone 1800 55 1800 (Free call)
- Domestic Violence Helpline 1800 800 098 (24 hours metropolitan and country)
- Your school counsellor
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor or other health professional.