Have you ever been so mad you felt like you were going to explode with rage? Or maybe you did explode by saying things you did not mean, or did things you normally wouldn’t do, due to pint up anger and other emotions. Being angry about certain situations and things are normal. Going into a complete rage and losing yourself is not. There have been countless times where I have let my anger get the best of me. I have said things to my loved ones that should have never escaped my lips during intense arguments. Often after an argument, I would replay everything over and over causing myself to become depressed, wondering why I was so harsh towards the people I love. I had to sit down and look within myself to understand my destructive patterns. Keep reading below if you would like to know how I started working on my anger, tips on how to work on your anger, and what you can do when someone has an outburst directed at you.
According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, anger is defined as a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism. I personally believe, anger is a normal reaction when things happen that are against our views, wishes, judgments, etc. However, it boils down to how you react when you become angry. Anger is not the problem; it is the reaction to the feeling of anger that must be reviewed. For example, imagine you are hosting a party and you have a friend helping with snacks, drinks, and other catering. While carrying a tray she bumps into a very important person in your industry, someone you are trying to impress for a promotion. You can either call your friend out, embarrass her in front of everyone at the party, and look foolish. Or you can take a deep breath to quickly calm down, gather some paper towels to help clean up the mess, ask your friend if she is okay, and apologize to the person who had a drink spilled on them. You have the choice to defuse anger, you just have to choose to react positively instead of negatively. This is how I view anger, if you do not feel the same, that is okay. We are all human and have different views about life.
Normal Anger Vs. Anger that is Not Normal
Above, I mentioned there are normal reactions to anger and there are reactions that are not normal. Some people might think certain behaviors are normal because it is what they saw growing up. When you are young and watch people display multiple anger outbursts, you can easily pick up old habits that were passed down from many generations. Or you may have gone through something that caused you to put your guard up, making you become defensive; resulting in angry outbursts. Down below are a few examples of normal responses to anger and some that are not normal.
- Letting out a frustrated sigh
- Screaming into a pillow or letting out a scream, in general, depending on where you are. It has been proven letting out a scream can help release built up emotions. I would not suggest screaming in public, you might get charged with disrupting the peace.
- Channeling your anger into something creative like art, poetry, writings, etc.
- Taking a moment to gather yourself and recollect your thoughts
- Letting others know you need a moment to calm down
- Getting physically violent
- Name calling and other mentally hurtful actions toward someone else or yourself
- Drinking or doing drugs
- Breaking objects
- Complete outbursts that are physically, mentally, and emotionally abusive
As I mentioned above, anger is normal, and it is a feeling everyone experiences. It is how you react to the feeling of anger that must be reviewed.
If you are someone with a short fuse or you let things build until you explode with rage, you know exactly what I am talking about when it comes to the phrase explosive outrage. Explosive outrages are fits of anger where you feel as if you do not have control and lash out; often using harsh words or becoming physically abusive towards others, or yourself. Explosive outrages can lead to domestic violence charges, getting fired from a job, suspended or expelled from school, breakups in relationships, friends and family members distancing themselves from you, etc. Bottom line is, outbursts are unhealthy and can become a real problem if you do not try to learn how to manage them.
Identifying an outburst before it happens can be difficult. However, it is doable even though it is challenging. Here are a few of the ways I found that help me calm down before I let my anger grow into an outrage:
- Make a list of the things that make you angry without a doubt. Knowing your triggers can help you avoid certain things or help you be prepared for when that certain thing or situation pops up.
- Make an anti-anger kit and fill it with your favorite snacks, a note written to yourself reminding you that this feeling is temporary, $5-$10 you can use to get you something cheap you’ve been wanting, a stress ball, pictures of the people who mean a lot to you, and a small journal to write down how you feel.
- Reading books, posts, articles, about ways you can identify, handle and conquer your anger outbursts
However, if you are working towards controlling your reactions to anger and eliminating explosive outrages, there are a few things you need to understand. Changing a certain behavioral pattern takes time and effort. There might be days where you slip up, but that does not mean you are a failure, nor should you give up. If you do go into an anger outrage, stop and realize this is not the reaction you are trying to work towards. Make yourself a promise that you will continue to try to gain better control of your reactions. The more you become aware, the easier it becomes.
I decided to talk to a few people I personally know who have explosive outrages. I asked them what helps them after they experience an outrage, here are a few of the answers I received:
- Writing about what happened and how it made them feel in the moment and how they felt after everything was said and done.
- Apologizing to everyone who saw the outburst
- Going on a walk to clear their mind
- Listening to music
- Finding a quiet place to recollect themselves
- Taking a relaxing bath
- Talking to a close friend
Remember, you are the one in control of your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes we just need a little reminder that things will work out in the end if we continue to push forward. Furthermore, if you need a therapist or medication for your anger do not feel ashamed. You are doing what helps you. Sometimes we need extra help and that is okay.
What to do When Anger is Directed Towards You
I have noticed a lot of people redirect their anger towards people who did not do anything to them in general, other than the targeted person being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unfortunately, you cannot control other people’s actions towards you. However, you can control your reaction. Think about it, if you were to react in an angry way, it will only make things escalate. Here are a few things you can do to help defuse the situation:
- Walk away and do not acknowledge the person until they calm down
- Let them know they were in the wrong after everything settles down and explain to them how it makes you feel when they act like that towards you.
- Keep a level head, they are not trying to redirect their anger at you, they might not know how to defuse their frustrations
- Do not dwell on the situation, it will eventually cause you to become angry
- If nothing is working, distance yourself from the person
Sometimes you have to love someone at a distance until the other person does something to change their negative ways. You still love and care about them, however, you cannot put up with their negative actions any longer. This does not make you a bad person. It is okay to set boundaries and not have to put up with people who threaten your mental well-being and happiness.
In conclusion, anger is a normal feeling, it is the reaction towards the feeling of anger that can become problematic. There are normal reactions to anger like taking a moment to calm down, and there are reactions that are not normal, like outbursts. Having anger outrages is unhealthy and could cause many life problems, especially when it comes to relationships with friends and family. Even though it is hard, there are ways to manage anger outbursts. Additionally, going to a therapist or taking medication is nothing to be ashamed of, we all need a little extra help every now and then. With determination, will power, and continuing to better yourself, even after messing up, you can overcome anything; including negative reactions to anger.
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I recently created a Facebook page where we do polls, talk about mental health, and help others see a light during dark times, everyone is more than welcomed to join. We did a poll on what people struggle with more out of anger and self-esteem. Anger won with 61% of the votes collected. If you are interested in joining our Facebook page you can follow the link here. Just click on the highlighted word and you should be redirected to the group.
What are some ways that help you calm down? Comment below.
Anger. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anger