#Wellbeing: understanding anger
Anger is a common, intense emotion that arises from specific triggers (e.g. when our self-esteem is threatened or when someone or something is preventing us from reaching a goal). Anger is often accompanied by various physical and physiological changes such as increased heart rate, blood pressure and levels of hormones (e.g. adrenaline) and a change in facial expressions, muscular tension and a clenched jaw. When anger is not under control, it can negatively affect our well-being, personal relationships and career.
Healthy vs Unhealthy anger
Healthy anger is about feeling in control of it and not behaving in a violent manner. It should motivate us to assert our rights when needed and request the other person not to insult us, but also trying to understand the other person’s point of view and accept their right to disagree with us. It should also encourage us to resolve any disagreements and try and forgive them.
Unhealthy anger is usually demonstrated by behaving in a violent manner towards others and taking it out on other people. It is about not recognising the other person’s right to disagree with us and assuming that they are definitely wrong and that they deliberately are trying to hurt us. It can be expressed by a verbal or physical attack, passive-aggressive behaviour, wanting to take revenge and holding a grudge.
How to change unhealthy anger to healthy anger?
We share the planet with other people, and we should understand that each one has their own values and rules, and it is okay for them to disagree with us. Everyone has their own moral code about how to live their life and no matter our opinion, they will continue to behave according to their own rules. So, not taking things personally can save us from a lot of unnecessary anger.
While we all want to be treated with respect and courtesy, we should neither expect nor demand that this happens. As mentioned previously, people do not behave according to how we would like them to behave, but instead according to how they want to behave.
People are not perfect, and we all make mistakes. Just because someone is exhibiting a negative behaviour towards you, it does not mean that they act like this all the time. It is therefore important to treat others with respect and condemn the undesirable behaviour instead of the person themselves.
If someone tries to make us feel bad, it is important to believe in ourselves and understand that we are ever-changing and complex humans and that we will always be valuable.
Criticism is unavoidable, as everyone experiences it at some point. When we receive it, it is important to assess whether we think it is reasonable, to keep an open-mind and to avoid taking it too seriously. Welcoming constructive criticism could help us improve ourselves.
Seeking approval and validation from other people could lead to taking disagreements personally. Instead, embrace your self-approval and accept yourself. Only when you have a healthy relationship with yourself, will you be able to form healthy relationships with others.
Instead of behaving aggressively, behave assertively. This means standing up for yourself and expressing your thoughts and feelings in a polite and respectful way. The goal is to communicate your point across, but you should not expect the other person to agree with you.
When you feel yourself getting very angry, acknowledge it and ask yourself ‘Is this really worth my energy?’ Take deep breaths before immediately responding back to someone who you are very angry with. Think of what you are saying. If the disagreement cannot be solved respectfully, then remove yourself from the environment that triggered the anger.
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