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Anger is a powerful emotion that comes up when we would really like our circumstances to be different. The circumstances we’re upset with can be longstanding (like being angry with how we were raised by our caregivers) or momentary (like being angry with someone that cuts us off in traffic). Anger has a way of overriding our best intentions by seemingly taking over our body and mind. When we’re really angry, it can feel like we’re out of control to some degree and we may do things or say things that we wouldn’t normally say or do. It’s easy to do a lot of damage to ourselves, our relationships or the world around us when we’re angry, and this can happen quickly.
It is important to remember that there is always some wisdom to anger. Even though it doesn’t feel great to be angry, it does signal that we want something in our life. That something may be to send a message, obtain justice, change your life for the better, to get some space… It is okay to want these things but we need to be careful in how we obtain them. When angry, it’s easy to want to take shortcuts to get these things. We could yell or slam a door or worse.
When anger is coming up and we feel ourselves starting to lose our cool, it’s important to calm ourselves. If we don’t, the anger can get the better of us and we’ll regret it later. Often, removing ourselves from an angering situation is the best way to go. This is a good choice to make when staying in a situation is only going to escalate the anger. Once you find some calm, you can return to the situation if possible and resolve what was going on. If you can, it is also possible to calm ourselves during an angering situation. This can involve strategies like taking some deep breaths, remembering that we love the other person, or changing the way you talk about a problem. However we work with our anger, it’s important that we do address the cause of it instead of escaping it by distracting ourselves. Otherwise, the anger could be merely pushed down until it resurfaces later.
It is common for someone to feel a consistent baseline of anger that flares up, or to not take yourself as an angry person and then be surprised when you burst with anger. We might be going to anger in order to avoid feeling another emotion. For example, being angry may be our way of overprotecting ourselves when we’re anxious or blaming the world for taking a loved one from us.
In any case, it requires some work to handle anger when it comes up. You can do this on your own, but there are instances when it’s good to get a professional’s help with it. With a counsellor, you can discuss and let go of aspects of your life that are causing anger. You can also learn tactics for handling the anger when it does come around. By taking this double approach, you can diffuse anger before it comes around and also diffuse it when it does come around.
– from Dr. Paul Ekman’s Atlas of Emotions
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