Controlling Your Anger: Healthy Ways to Express Anger

Anger is a natural human response to events which they percieve as having a negative affect on their life. Therefore, when people try to suppress anger, they inevitably explode with rage at some later date or they may internalize the anger to a degree where the anger manifests itself as some type of mental disorder such as depression. Thus, it is important to first recognize anger when the feeling arises, then immediately focus on solving the situation at hand.

Keep in mind that you do not have to suppress your anger to control it. All you need to do is look at the event in a new light. Looking at the negative event from a different perspective helps dissolve anger. For example, when someone is driving dangerously slow in the fast lane you can react in a number of ways; you could be enraged at the driver, you could try to suppress the rage, or you could look at the situation from an objective and logical perspective. Perhaps the driver is intoxicated, mentally ill, or senile. When you consider the fact that the person may not be driving slow just to irritate you but because of something that has no relation to you, you will notice that your anger is blunted.

If a sales clerk is rude to you, you can look at it in a number of ways. The person may be going through a divorce, they may have just parted with an irrational customer, or they may not even notice that they have a negative personality. Many people have negative exteriors, but their inner thoughts are full of love and respect for others.

Of course, it may be the case of a genuinely negative person who is out to do you harm. The way to deal with such people is to tactfully let them know that you will not stand for such behavior. If the situation is getting close to physical escalation, then immediately leave the scene. Your physical health is not worth destroying for a negative person who does not value their own safety. However, if you can get the situation under control without resorting to physical measures, end the incident on the notion that you agree to disagree about the conflicting situation. For the most part people will react to the way you approach them. If you are firm yet respectful, they will approach you with the same tone. When the two parties reach some level of commonality the tension begins to release and anger dissipates.

 By Paul Barron

Anger Management Classes available 7 days a week in Houston, Texas.

Gregory A. Kyles, M.A., LPC, CEAP, CAMF
Director, Anger Management Institute of Texas
Diplomate, President of Texas Chapter
American Association of Anger Management Providers

How to Deal with an Angry Co-Worker

The workplace can often be a stressful environment, but when anger is thrown into the picture then the stress level becomes even greater. Having to deal with the anger or negative behavior of a co-worker can sometimes make you feel vulnerable and decrease your productivity, but there are positive ways in which you can handle these situations.

First of all, it’s important to understand the underlying reasons of a person’s anger or negative behavior and in this way you can take the first step in dealing with their anger in a constructive way. Understanding the underlying reasons of their behavior comes down to how it makes you feel.

Does it make you feel powerless?
His or her goal is to gain some sort of control over you. This is often because the person is insecure or has feelings of inadequacy. The need for control is very important to a person who feels this way and negative behavior is one of those ways in which they can do this.

Does it make you feel annoyed?
Very simply, they want your attention. By angering you, they are seeking some sort of connection or bond.

Does it make you feel hurt or helpless?
They themselves feel inadequate or vulnerable and are doing a role reversal. By expressing anger either outright or in a passive aggressive way, they are protecting themselves.

Next, you need to work on ways to handle their anger, and a lot of this is done by identifying the situation and learning ways to strengthen your areas of vulnerability.
This is how it can be done:

Detach yourself from the situation by seeing their behavior for what it really is, whether it’s a way to manipulate, to get your attention or a way in which they are venting their frustrations.

Remind yourself not to take their anger personally. This can take practice, but by giving yourself these reminders you will feel less vulnerable and better able to handle each situation.

Listen to what they are saying to you without becoming caught up in it. Validate their anger by saying “I can see that you are really upset right now”, or “I’d feel the same way if I were you”. This can often diffuse the situation and let the person know that they are being treated with respect.

Give the person a choice. Let them know that you are perfectly will to talk about what’s angering them once they have cooled off and are behaving in a more respectful way.

Ask the person what it is that they want, or what remedy they are seeking with their anger. By drawing them into problem solving and more levelheaded thinking, the anger can often be diffused.

Set firm boundaries for yourself. Let the person know when they have crossed the line but do this in a non-confrontational way. Be calm and remember again to detach yourself from their anger and not take it personally. If the person becomes abusive in any way, report it immediately to your supervisor.

By learning to disengage from the anger of a co-worker, setting boundaries and building effective communication skills you can have less stress in your work environment and be a more productive person.

By Elizabeth Farrell

Anger Management Classes available 7 days a week in Houston, Texas.

Gregory A. Kyles, M.A., LPC, CEAP, CAMF
Director, Anger Management Institute of Texas
Diplomate, President of Texas Chapter
American Association of Anger Management Providers

Why Anger is Essential to Healthy Relationships

Many of us have some very definite ideas about anger. We see anger as destructive and hurtful. We consider it to be an inappropriate response. We equate anger with violence. In short, we feel that anger is simply wrong, and that when we experience anger, there’s something wrong with us. Anger isn’t nice. Anger isn’t polite. And anger certainly isn’t our friend.

Anger can be all of these things. But anger is also useful, necessary and even healing. We need our anger. We simply need to learn how to express our anger in appropriate, conscious, supportive ways. On its own, anger is neither good nor bad. It can be used to hurt, or it can be used to heal. It may not be a particularly pleasant emotion, but it’s an important one. And anger—or rather the skillful use and understanding of anger—is essential to creating healthy relationships.

Guy Williams, a friend of mine who also happens to be a minister of Religious Science offers a tremendously insightful approach for understanding anger. Guy says that anger arises from a communication not delivered or an expectation not met. Anger is actually a tertiary response: our initial responses are grief and fear. First, we grieve the death of the expectation that was not met. Next, we fear that things will never change. Finally, we experience anger.

So few of us recognize that anger can be a positive, healing response. When we allow ourselves to experience anger, it focuses our minds, and strengthens our resolve. We discover reserves of strength and power. Our anger is what gives us the courage and the power to confront our fear that things will never change, by creating change.

So many of us equate anger with aggression. We believe that when we experience anger, someone will be hurt. In order to create a more spiritual and skillful relationship with anger, it’s helpful to recognize that we can defend ourselves without attacking.

Consider that we each carry a sword. When someone crosses a boundary, we experience anger (because our expectation that our boundaries will be respected was not met). At this point, we have a choice. We can choose to use our sword to attack, lashing out at the person who crossed the boundary. This will inevitably violate our partner’s boundaries, and make our partner feel unsafe and angry. They will, in turn, pull out their sword and begin to attack us in earnest. The result is a classic “lose-lose” scenario, where both participants are wounded and feel less safe than they did at the start.

We do have another choice, however. We can choose to use our sword to defend our boundary by simply removing it from its sheath and displaying it. Brandishing our metaphorical weapon is usually more than sufficient to hold the attention of the person who crossed the boundary. Once we have our partner’s attention, we can calmly make them aware that they have crossed a boundary, and ask that they take a step back and respect that boundary in the future.

Because we are merely defending ourselves and not attacking our partner, we are far less likely to make our partner feel unsafe, which in turn means our partner is far more likely to apologize for having unintentionally crossed a boundary. It’s a “win-win” situation because we feel safe once again in the expectation that our boundaries will, indeed, be respected, and our partner feels safe because they are now more aware of the boundaries in the relationship, and no longer need to fear that they will accidentally violate them.

If we choose not to take things personally, and always assume that the boundary violation was unintentional, we not only avoid stepping into the role of victim, but we also avoid the need to forgive our partner, because we never blamed them in the first place.

Avoiding blame, by the way, is another way that we defend ourselves without attacking. When we blame someone for their actions, we are, in fact, attacking them. We cut them off from the flow of our love. This makes them feel less safe, and frequently is interpreted as an attack. More importantly, when we blame someone, we reinforce the lie that we are separate from All That Is, and cut ourselves off from the universal flow.

So how is anger essential to healthy relationships? Anger is our call to awareness.

Remember that relationships are all about meeting our fundamental needs. In every relationship, we need to feel safe and we need to feel validated. As long as those needs are met, our relationships are truly amazing.

When we feel angry, we know something is not right. We become acutely aware that some of our needs are not being met. Anger is most often associated with safety violations. If we feel angry because our validation needs are not being met, it’s usually an indication that we have an attachment to meeting our validation needs—a sign that one of the main ways that we feel safe is to feel validated.

When we feel angry in our relationships, we usually respond in one of two ways. The first response is to express our anger, most often by lashing out in some way. We’ve already seen how this is always a lose-lose proposition.

The second response is to repress our anger in order to avoid a full-out confrontation. (Notice how this response also assumes that the only other way to deal with anger is to express it by attacking!) When we repress our anger, we attempt to restore the balance in our safety accounts by isolating ourselves and disengaging from the relationship. Eventually, we will no longer be able to repress our anger, and it will manifest in a confrontation of unexpected and inappropriate intensity.

Neither response meets our relationship needs, of course.

When we cultivate a more skillful relationship with anger, however, we have a third option. When we feel angry in a relationship, we can become aware that we’re feeling unsafe, that some expectation has not been met, and that our needs are not being met. We can own this experience, recognizing that it’s about us, not about our partner. And we can choose to take appropriate action. Instead of attacking or withdrawing, we can choose to engage in the relationship more fully.

Before we engage in the relationship, however, we must first recognize that we’re feeling unsafe, and remedy this. We may be able to shift our awareness and restore the balance in our safety account in an instant. We may need to disengage (briefly) so that we can cool down before we reengage in the relationship. Whatever the method, it is essential that we feel completely safe before we proceed. If we don’t feel safe, we won’t behave in a reasonable or rational manner.

Once we feel safe, we can explore why we felt angry. Remember, anger arises because an expectation was not met, or a communication was not delivered. What was the expectation? What boundary was crossed? What was not communicated? What was not understood?

Now that we’ve identified the reason for the anger response, we can consider it objectively. The most important question is whether our expectations were reasonable. Remember that we are responsible for meeting our minimum daily requirements of safety and validation on our own. When our unreasonable expectations aren’t met, we do experience anger, but that anger is a call to make us aware that it’s time to adjust our expectations, and this does not involve our partner in any way.

If we discover that our expectations are, in fact, reasonable, and that our partner is responsible, then it’s time to defend our boundaries and hold our partner accountable.

Holding our partner accountable, however, is not the same thing as blaming our partner, yelling at our partner, insulting our partner, “tearing our partner a new one,” or in any way making our partner wrong.

It’s important to recognize that much of the time, all that we need is an acknowledgement that our partner has not met an expectation, and an apology. All we need in order to feel safe again is to be able to believe that our expectations will actually be met in the future.

This may seem hard to accept—how could a simple apology ever be sufficient? It’s something each of us has to experience for ourselves. The desire for punishment or revenge exists because we have disengaged from our relationships, and we believe that our partners are responsible for meeting our safety needs. When we take responsibility for restoring our sense of safety and choose to engage in our relationships, all we need is an apology—an acknowledgement of the boundary violation—and then forgiveness comes naturally.

By Kevin B. Burk
Anger Management Classes available 7 days a week in Houston, Texas.

Gregory A. Kyles, M.A., LPC, CEAP, CAMF
Director, Anger Management Institute of Texas
Diplomate, President of Texas Chapter
American Association of Anger Management Providers

Seeing Red: The Cost of Anger


After eight years of marriage, despite a child and a home together, her husband Pete was leaving. After only four or five marriage counseling sessions, Pete gave up. Jenna wanted the couples counseling to reignite the romance and intimacy. He still wanted out. After they separated, Pete made plans with their seven-year-old daughter Angie to go camping. She waited eagerly at the door, looking for her dad in each passing car. The ringing telephone abruptly ended the waiting. He was canceling the camping trip because he was sick. Although disappointed, Angie wanted to take care of him. She hoped that if she brought Dad some soup, he would feel better and they would go camping. She convinced her mother to make soup and drive her to his apartment When Angie arrived at the apartment, her dad was not there. A neighbor told them that he had left for the weekend and she was cat-sitting for him.

Jenna and Pete had been separated for only a few months when she discovered that her husband was dating another woman. Her head reeled with the pain of this news. The thought of her husband with someone else made her heart pound. How could he do this? Who was she? Uncontrollable rage began to well up within her. Fists clenched, she pounded the bedroom walls. Photos of their marriage went flying across the room as she began yelling, “How could you do this to me?” Anger consumed her for the next several hours as she vacilitated between rage and sadness. Jenna had no idea of how to defuse her feelings. She felt out of control.

What Is Anger?

Everyone experiences anger, and most of us have found that its outcomes can be both positive and negative. According to anger-management consultant George Anderson of Anderson & Anderson, the first global angermanagementexecutive-coaching training provider, “Anger is a feeling of displeasure, which usually shows itself in a desire to fight.” Anger, a universal emotion, can be an energizer – it can help us fight for noble causes, find solutions to the problems we face, and help us make changes when we need to. Or, unresolved, it can be an “energy drainer,” making us feel listless and tired or creating conflict and destruction in our lives. According to Anderson, the ways we handle anger determine whether it is a positive or negative energy source in our life.

The Price of Anger

For couples that experience marital problems or face separation or divorce, anger is often misused, directed at times abusively toward the other spouse. Often, anger seems the only way of maintaining control in a tenuous relationship. Anger can be used to punish the spouse and to diffuse (or exacerbate) pent-up hostilities lurking under the surface. It also allows someone to maintain a negative, bitter connection to his or her spouse. In cases of unwanted separation or divorce, having some connection with the ex – even an unhappy one – can feel better man no connection.

Anger can seem to have a mind of its own.

It can affect judgment and perception and prevent people from making rational decisions. Couples in the process of a divorce may spend thousands of dollars in legal fees in bitter quarrels over custody time, division of property, or support obligations. Not only are these issues draining to the individuals emotionally and financially, they also can continue to fuel the war for years, affecting the lives of the children and wreaking personal havoc.

Taking Control of Your Anger

How can you take charge of your life if anger is destroying your relationship?
1. Recognize that anger is a normal emotion that arises as a result of not having one’s needs met.
2. Accept that anger can arise as a result of loss of a significant relationship or from grief.
3. If, however, you are experiencing anger regularly, you should seek help.
4. If your marriage is failing or if you are in the process of a separation due to chronic anger or conflict, then consult with a trained and certified anger-management provider.

Remember that uncontrolled anger upsets everyone, especially children. It can alter their performance in school and affect normal emotional development Children become fearful around angry parents. They never know when the parents will lash out which creates unstable and tense feelings internally. Children who are raised by an angry parent-can experience feelings of anxiety and profound sadness. They often describe living with their parents as having to “walk on eggshells.”

If your anger is getting the best of you, consider the Seven Rs of Managing Anger:

1. Recognize that you are angry.
2. Release stress.
3. Relax.
4. Remember to take care of yourself.
5. Recharge yourself by being around people who are positive and loving.
6. Reshape your perception about the situation that is causing anger.
7. Rectify your mistakes and forgive the mistakes of others.

By Sonia Brill, LCSW, CAMF

Anger Management Classes available 7 days a week in Houston, Texas.

Gregory A. Kyles, M.A., LPC, CEAP, CAMF
Director, Anger Management Institute of Texas
Diplomate, President of Texas Chapter
American Association of Anger Management Providers