How To Deal With Angerby Dr Emma Gray - 15th October, 2014
The first step in dealing with Anger is to understand what is causing it. There are three main reasons that we feel anger and each indicates a different course of action.
1. Anger because your needs aren’t being met
In its purest form anger is a response to unmet needs; we may feel angry because we are being treated badly for example. In this instance anger is an adaptive response to our environment; it is alerting us to a problem that we need to resolve. The important thing here is to identify the problem, a solution and then to implement this solution in an assertive way i.e. in a way that ensures our needs are met without depriving others of their needs.
Dealing with this type of anger in a straightforward way will ensure that the anger dissipates and that you are protected from future problems including anxiety and depression resulting from ongoing unmet need and a subsequent build up of unexpressed anger.
2. Anger as a way of coping with Anxiety
It is common for feelings of anger to function as a cover for less palatable emotions like anxiety. This is not to suggest that you would sit down and consciously decide to feel angry instead of feeling anxious but it seems that subconsciously we often choose to do this.
Feelings of anxiety are sometimes viewed as a weakness and so for men in particular, this subconscious layering of emotions is frequently a more socially acceptable response to core feelings of anxiety. Uncovering the anxiety that may underlie your anger can be tricky to do without help through therapy from a Clinical Psychologist or Counselling Psychologist, but as a first step see if you can identify a tendency within yourself to overestimate future problems and underestimate your ability to cope as these thought patterns are an indication of an anxious personality.
3. Anger as a response to Depression
Often when we feeling bad within ourselves as a result of a lack of confidence, low self esteem or feelings of depression, we respond by taking it out on someone else; that person becomes the proverbial scapegoat. This way of coping with feeling of depression and sadness, may in the longer term create more problems than it solves but, in the short term can provide some relief for us; the problem for that moment is not with us, it is with someone else.
This type of response is referred to by Clinical Psychologists and Counselling Psychologists as a Counterattack Behavioural Coping Strategy or attack as a form of defence. As with anger that masks anxiety, to uncover and resolve this type of anger and the depression that underlies it you may require therapy with a mental health professional, however a good first step is to try and become aware of the self critical voice, that undermines, negatively evaluates and of course, criticises you, i.e. the source of your low self esteem, confidence and potential depression.