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Anger is a natural emotion. It is neither good nor bad, it is simply an emotion. What we do with our anger can become good or bad, but the emotion is neutral. Anger acts like an early warning system for our bodies, letting us know when something is not right. We often ignore or stuff down our anger, letting it brew within our mind and body. When we don’t process our anger, it starts to escape our bodies through our words and actions, causing damage to relationships, people, animals or things.
The damage created by our anger does not need to be physical. One of the most common presentations I see is internal anger. People will tell themselves “I’m bad,” “I am not good enough,” “I let them down” or “I messed up again.” When these thoughts develop, they reduce our natural ability to handle stressors. This can lead to not having the coping skills in place to handle our anger effectively, causing us to have an anger episode.
If you have been able to relate to any of this so far, you might benefit from having an anger evaluation conducted by a mental health professional. If you are finding yourself physically hurting people, animals or property, it is time to seek help now.
If you struggle with minor anger, here are a few quick skills you can use to reduce your anger level:
- Communicate your feelings with loved ones in a calm and healthy manner.
- Slow down your thoughts. You don’t need to react or respond instantly. Take a second to make sure what you are going to say or do is appropriate.
- Take a breath. Oxygen helps us think clearly and can reduce the level of anger we feel.
- Take a break. Walk away from the object that is influencing your anger, and come back later and finish. If it is a person, tell them you need five minutes to collect your thoughts, calm down and return to the conversation. Take as many breaks as you need.
If you feel you would like help with your anger or more skills than were offered here, please set up an appointment with a mental health professional to reduce the cost of anger in your life.Paul Roadt is a psychotherapist in Behavioral Health in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.