Anger is a natural emotion. When we deny that we are angry, we are denying something fundamentally human.
Some of us deny anger because of messages we received as children, telling us about how we should and should not behave. Acknowledging to ourselves that we are, indeed, angry is a positive step. Here’s how to release it and maintain the respect of others.
Admit when you are angry
The first step in dealing constructively with anger is to admit when you are angry. Trying to cover it up or pretend it isn’t there will only make it come out some other way and distance us from other people. You may have been denying anger for such a long time that it will take some practice to recognize when it’s there. But if you start looking for it, you’ll begin to see that many things stir up angry feelings.
Stop, look and listen
Stop. Try to identify what you are angry about. The cause of anger isn’t always obvious. We’re so accustomed to shutting off our feelings that we might have to think seriously about the cause of our anger before we can identify it. What made us angry might not be the last thing that happened today, but the first. Or it might have happened yesterday or last week.
Look. If you’ve identified the cause, think about it before you act. Could it have been avoided? Were you partly responsible for it by not giving clear instructions?
Listen. Anger is like an old friend reminding us what we like, what we want and what we need. It tells us when something has gone wrong. By being aware of what makes you angry, you can learn to shrug off the less important things.
Express your anger
By taking the time to survey the anger-making situation, you have the opportunity to cool off, and you can make expressions of anger a choice rather than a reaction. This gives you more control, and you’ll be able to monitor what you say and how you say it. Be honest, but be loving and respectful. Others will respect your honesty—and you will feel more satisfied in anger-making situations.
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Dr. Gnap is a family practice physician and behavioral medicine specialist in suburban Chicago. Dr. Gnap developed the Inner Control™ Program in 1970 and has worked with thousands of people to improve and correct medical, emotional, behavioral and learning problems including performance. He started the Inner Control program because so many patients asked, “what more can be done along with traditional treatment methods?”