Anger Management: Causes of Anger and How to Manage
Sonia was a process manager at a reputed multinational company. She was an expert in her field and had extensive…
June 23, 2020 | 6 mins read
Sonia was a process manager at a reputed multinational company. She was an expert in her field and had extensive experience but wasn’t seen as a good leader.
Her team members thought she was unreasonable and arrogant. She would lose her temper frequently. Sonia saw her team members as obstinate, incompetent, and uncooperative.
It wasn’t a happy relationship and eventually, their relations soured almost beyond repair. Her teammates stopped approaching her for any discussions, which annoyed Sonia considerably.
What both Sonia and her teammates didn’t realize was that she had anger issues that overshadowed her capability. Had she focused on managing her anger, things would not have come to such a pass.
Before understanding what anger management is, let’s discuss the emotion of anger.
Did you know that anger is a normal and perfectly healthy emotion? It conveys to our mind that all is not well with things or people around us. You are likely to experience anger when you are upset, or feel cheated or threatened.
Imagine you are driving on a highway—you have your seat belt on and are driving within the speed limit. Suddenly, a huge truck, driving at high speed, swerves into your lane. Somehow, your driving skills and good fortune help you escape an accident.
Once you stop on the side, how do you feel?
That’s not surprising. You would, quite understandably, feel angry as you could have got hurt without any fault of yours.
Getting angry when you have been wrongly treated or threatened is absolutely normal. However, anger can become an issue if it manifests itself in outbursts that could hurt you or those around you.
In such situations, anger management can be very useful.
For instance, you might experience anger when, after spending an hour filling your cart at the supermarket and another hour in the check-out queue, you finally reach the payment counter and discover that your card is not working.
Already tired and irritated, you may become so angry that you get into a confrontation with the store staff. Eventually, you are forced out of the store, without the items that you came to buy.
Dejected, tired, and embarrassed, you drive out of the parking lot when you suddenly realize that you could have used another card. The situation wouldn’t have gone out of hand and caused you and those around you such inconvenience.
However, you let your anger overwhelm you and it affected your judgment and actions.
Anger is a natural reaction to adverse situations.
At the workplace, it could be anger against a colleague who is not a team player, a subordinate who doesn’t carry out instructions, or a boss who doesn’t respect you or your efforts.
At school, it could be anger against a bully who targets you without any reason or a teacher who gives harsh punishment. Whenever you let anger spiral out of control, it can have several negative outcomes and damage the following:
Constant or frequent outbursts can cause stress and lead to conditions such as heart diseases, diabetes, weakened immunity, lack of sleep, and high blood pressure.
Anger is a strong emotion and it can overpower your reasoning abilities. Anger issues can make you feel agitated, stressed, depressed, and incapable of focusing on work or enjoying life.
Angry outbursts can affect teamwork and the ability to receive or give constructive and fair criticism, which can create a negative image of you among your colleagues, superiors, and clients.
Relationships are delicate. A bout of uncontrollable anger can destroy even the most important relationships that you may have spent years nurturing. You might hit or abuse someone in anger, and the other person might get offended beyond reconciliation.
The way you behave with people around you when you are angry determines how you are perceived by them.
There are clear signs that indicate when anger becomes a problem. The most prevalent signs of harmful anger include:
If you express your anger by screaming, hurling abuses, issuing verbal threats to people, physically assaulting another person, destroying objects, and throwing things around, then it is a sign of harmful anger.
There are instances when people internalize their anger and turn it into hatred. This kind of negativity can result in an utter dislike for one’s self. Such behavior can result in isolation from friends and family. In extreme cases, it can result in self-harm and even suicide.
Anger is not just about getting into a street-style brawl with people. Passive anger might appear less harmful, but it can have a very negative impact on your relationships.
People with passive aggression problems might deliberately underperform, ignore others, and avoid communication with their friends and family.
It is widely perceived that anger management is the technique of suppressing anger. As stated above, anger is a normal emotional response, and giving up anger completely is not ideal for your health.
If you don’t express anger, it might get internalized and come out in another form. Therefore, anger management is not about suppressing it, but learning how to prevent destructive outbursts.
By managing anger, you can express it in a constructive and identifiable manner while being in control of the situation. This will not only have a better emotional impact on you but can also help others understand you better. As a result, your conflicts will have a better chance of a positive resolution and you will become better at nurturing relationships.
At times, you might get angry over trivial issues. Once your anger cools off, you realize that the reason behind your anger was minor.
In such scenarios, you need to introspect why you get angry. Many times, unprovoked and unbalanced angry outbursts are due to stress, undetected health problems, fatigue, embarrassment, psychological problems, fear, or weakness.
You need to analyze the causes carefully, and depending on the reasons that make you angry, you need to learn about managing anger.
It is a common perception that people with anger issues just lash out without any provocation or warning. However, anger has clear physical symptoms that manifest themselves just before the outburst.
If you understand these symptoms and identify them as soon as they appear, you might get better at managing anger. Some of the common symptoms are tightening of stomach muscles, clenching of hands or jaw, rapid breathing, faster heartbeat, inability to focus, sense of restlessness, and headaches.
Careful analysis can help you identify patterns that lead to outbursts.
If you are someone who uses words like “always” and “never” in arguments, then you must know that such phrases are great anger triggers.
For instance, a statement like, “You always fail to do what I say” or “I never do this” will more often than not escalate a situation.
Similarly, if you react based on your assumptions, it can lead to angry outbursts.
For instance, when a colleague doesn’t respond to your greeting, you might assume that he or she is unhappy with you. You might reciprocate by giving that person the cold shoulder the next time, and before either of you realize, it could become a serious problem.
Your assumption would prevent you from thinking if the other person didn’t respond because he or she didn’t hear you or was busy on a call.
Some people are able to let their anger dissipate by practicing deep breathing, counting sheep mentally, and so on. If you are prone to losing your temper, you must learn a cooling-off technique that can prevent an unhealthy outburst.
It is not advisable to suppress anger as that would only lead to its accumulation. However, if you let your anger manifest uncontrollably, it is bound to have harmful short- and long-term effects on your personal and professional life.
You might find yourself losing your cool in the face of challenges and setbacks in these uncertain times. Harappa’s Embracing Change course helps you deal with these setbacks and not lose your temper.
Discover our Harappa Diaries section to know more about topics related to the Lead habit such as Resilience and the Meaning of Humility.