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Feelings of anger can be interpreted as a protective cover for what we really feel underneath.

Anger is a secondary emotion that is more socially acceptable to express than the primary emotions we feel. Showing anger allows us to protect our vulnerable feelings of:

1. Fear
2. Jealousy
3. Shame
4. Sadness
5. Hurt

If someone says something derogatory, controlling, or demeaning to you, it may seem like a personal attack. You may feel fear, shame and/or grief because you are being treated in such a demeaning way. Instead of voicing these vulnerable feelings that you may believe are weak, you lash out in anger to feel more in control. Unfortunately, reacting in aggressive ways like yelling, throwing things, pushing or hitting does not address what you are really feeling.

The next time you begin to feel angry, pause and think: “What am I feeling underneath?” Explore the feeling of sadness, shame, jealousy or fear that your anger is covering. Think about what outcome you want from the situation and the best way to achieve it. While you take time to reflect on your internal thoughts the anger will subside. You may need to count to ten or leave the room. Think of the best way to express your primary feeling to the offending party.

Some examples are:

• I feel hurt when you say xxxx or do xxx.
• I need some time to cool off, can we talk about this in (an hour/tomorrow).
• I am going for a walk to relax and think.
• I am very tired/hungry right now. I can give you my undivided attention after I rest/eat.

It is a good idea to reflect on the times you’ve gotten angry in the past and try to uncover the primary emotion behind your reactions. Think of the best way to express that primary emotion in a calm, clear way and how to achieve your desired outcome. Writing your thoughts down will help you remember and mentally rehearse a better way to respond to situations that trigger anger. The next time you feel angry you will be prepared to express what you are really feeling and better able to get your needs met.

Anger cannot be controlled but our response to anger is in our control. Anger is an automatic response of the nervous system. When it feels threatened the brain floods the body with stress hormones prompting the body’s fight or flight response. It is extremely important to pause and reflect on your anger and the desired outcome before you speak or act. Some tips for calming your mind include: Counting to ten or walking away from the situation until your emotions subside and you can think rationally.

Fear, anxiety, grief, and shame are primary emotions. Anger is not.

Anger may give you a false sense of power. Expressing anger by yelling, fighting, assaults and self-harm do not lead to respect from others. Instead it will destroy relationships and in extreme cases can lead to personal and financial losses. Taking the time to acknowledge anger, and discover the underlying problem can inspire you to be more solution oriented. Ignoring anger and bottling feelings not only neglects to address the problem but may result in serious health problems that can affect your quality of life.

Anger Health Problems Include:

Headaches
Digestive Problems
Insomnia
Depression
High Blood Pressure
Heart Attack
Stroke

Anger Management Skills:

It is important to accept anger as a natural response to perceived threats and loss. Learn to observe your thoughts calmly without judging or reacting. It may be helpful to keep a journal to record when and why you get angry. By jotting down your feelings you can refer back to them and discover your anger pattern to reach possible solutions. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, listening to music, and any hobby or activity that allows you to have a sense of peace. Research has shown that regular exercise like walking, running, dancing or yoga can reduce stress levels and improve your mood as well as your health. Treat yourself and others kindly and respectfully to reduce frequency of angry outbursts. Consider joining an anger management group to learn better communication and conflict resolution techniques.