Anger mismanagement refers to unhelpful and careless ways in which we often manage anger. I work with a lot of clients on anger related issues and I have found three common anger mismanagement strategies: Suppression, disproportionate expression and displacement.
In my opinion, anger is not the problem – it is a natural, normal human emotion and it is very much-needed for survival and to bring about changes. The real problem lies in the ineffective management strategies.
Suppression – We suppress anger as soon as it comes up. This usually goes with the belief that experiencing anger is unhealthy so we must not get angry. Suppressing anger can stop it from conveying something that is important to us in terms of safety, maintaining healthy boundaries and making choices. Anger helps us to take appropriate actions. For example, telling a person that they are overstepping their boundaries and you don’t like it, is an effective way of expressing how you feel. Our childhood experiences often discourage healthy expressions of anger and teach us to distrust anger. The child learns early on to suppress anger as it is not a safe emotion to experience.
EFT lets you acknowledge, when someone has been unjust to you, that anger is an ‘okay’ emotion to feel.
When someone has overstepped their boundaries, intentionally hurt or manipulated you, you have the right to be angry. However, there is a difference between experiencing anger and holding on to it. While experiencing anger is okay, holding on to it is like being in a perpetual state of agitation. It’s good to first experience anger and only then release it.
Disproportionate Expression – Aggression, Violence, destructive behavior, and even passive aggressive behaviors are all forms of ineffective expressions of anger. You will notice that often your response – reaction to an annoying situation – is more than the situation requires. We often have difficulty in accepting how things ‘are’ because we are thinking about how things ‘should be’ and this leads to a disproportionate response to the situation. Common thoughts and beliefs that drive this are, “The world is unjust”, “People are out to get me”, “I’m victimized”, “Nobody understands me”, “I can’t control it” and “I’m the only one who is right “.
To deal with this, we need to look at anger realistically. Tapping on your expectations from people and situations will help. Additionally, being caught unawares by a sudden occurrence warrants a different response than a situation where you get angry knowing how it would be. For example, if someone has the habit of speaking in a certain annoying way, they will not change it (for your sake). Hence, your expectation that they speak differently to you will only give you anger. Tapping on the habitual responses of people and accepting those responses will help.
When you are angry after an event, acknowledge anger and let it stay for a while. Then decide if it is due to the present situation or the past and choose what to do about the situation and most definitely tap on it.
What also helps is to recognize that anger is well within your control. It’s not an alien force controlling your mind and making you do things.
Displacement – You are angry with someone or at some other situation, but take it out on someone else or in a totally different situation. We experience this often. For example, you are angry with your best friend but it’s coming out on your spouse. Often the thoughts that drive this behavior are, “ My loved ones will understand even if I take it out on them”, “I have a right to vent it within my comfort zone”, “It’s okay to do it at home and not outside”.
To handle displacement, tap on the original source of anger and then the guilt for taking it out on someone else. Also, tap on staying calm in a future triggering situation.
Checking on your beliefs about yourself, others and the world in general will give you insight into what triggers the anger and why people or certain situations make you angry. Tap on these beliefs and insights. You can gradually reach a state where you consciously feel the anger, acknowledge its presence, take appropriate actions and let it go.