Understanding and managing anger

Anger is a common emotion and can be expressed in many ways, from mild frustration to extreme rage. There may be real causes for anger, and genuine (and perceived) injustices in daily life that may make us all feel angry.  If expressed positively, anger can be healthy and motivating but it is more often a negative and divisive emotion.

It’s important that we learn how to recognise anger in ourselves and others, and look at ways we can manage these feelings. If someone you know is struggling to control their anger, you might find it helpful to work through some of the steps below with them.

Understanding Anger

The first step to addressing anger is to realise that it is often not the primary emotion. Other feelings such as stress, guilt, fear, frustration, depression, or powerlessness can manifest as anger.

Thought Patterns

Another important step in managing anger, is to question and address anger inducing thought patterns such as:

  • Believing the world should conform to all of your beliefs and expectations (as you may experience a lot of frustration and anger when it doesn’t)
  • Using over generalised thinking and phrases. Words like AlwaysNever, and Everyone can distort the way you interpret the situation and make you feel powerless
  • Blaming others. Is it always someone else’s fault when something goes wrong? Taking responsibility will help you manage your reactions when things don’t go as planned
  • Assuming you know all sides of the story. Speak with other people to get a better understanding of the situation and what they feel
  • Insisting things be done in a certain way. Allowing for some flexibility in the way things are done will help when things don’t go to plan

Anger management techniques and strategies

If the above thought patterns are manifesting in anger, then it might be helpful to explore ways to manage that anger. Tips to control anger could include:

  • Taking some ‘time out’
  • Controlling breathing
  • Learning and implementing relaxation skills
  • Undertaking physical activity
  • Writing things down or composing an unsent letter
  • Working on ways to communicate your message without anger
  • Using calming self-statements such as “Cool it. You can handle this”
  • Working on responses that help with your anger by developing a list of things to say to yourself before, during and after situations in which you may get angry

Know when to seek help

Learning to control anger is a challenge for everyone at times. If someone’s anger seems out of control, or is at risk of escalating and hurting them or those around them, then you should consider seeking further help.

Advice and support

If you would like further advice and support on how best to help someone you care about, contact our Step Together helpline workers.

Last updated:

18 Oct 2023

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