Managing Anger

What is anger and how can you calm yourself so you don’t do something stupid while angry?

Anger is an unpleasant emotion. I don’t like feeling it. However, it is a normal human emotion. Part of our emotional toolkit for a reason. According to this article at PBS – it’s a reaction to a perceived threat. In other words, it’s an emotion that tells us something is wrong. Or, as in the case of extreme anger – very very wrong. (see:

Anger really does originate in fear. It’s a response to a perceived threat. It gives us the adrenaline to fight and defend ourselves if necessary.  While fear is immobilizing, anger as a response to fear is active.

The fact that anger is normal and serves a useful function doesn't make it feel any better. Yes, it spurs us to take action, but unless we take the time to think through our response, acting out in anger can make things worse, not better.  The problem is, as Yoda always said, fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. And hate leads to suffering.

To manage our anger well, we have to harness the motivation to act that comes with anger, while also calming ourselves so that our adrenaline rush doesn't cause us to act rashly. And most of all, we need to make sure that we don’t allow our fear and anger to cause us to hate the person or thing that made us afraid in the first place.

This is easier said than done, but learning how to calm yourself is the key. And the more you practice, the easier it becomes. I find when I get angry that the best thing I can do for myself is to consciously choose to be compassionate. I do this because compassion helps me to be less afraid and it prevents me from becoming so angry I start to hate. I can’t hate when I’m feeling compassionate.

The other thing compassion does for me is it helps me to calm my mind enough to think rationally so that I can choose my response instead of acting stupidly in my anger.  My compassion doesn’t deny my anger, it just helps me channel it more effectively.  And to me, that’s what managing anger should be.

To learn more about how to manage anger in yourself and others, check out this course from Dr. Leon Seltzer –

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