Anger Management

Anger Management in modern society

In modern society and the subject of anger management, anger is viewed as an immature or uncivilized response to frustration, threat, violation, or loss. Conversely, keeping calm, coolheaded, or turning the other cheek is considered more socially acceptable. This conditioning can cause inappropriate expressions of anger, such as uncontrolled, violent outbursts or misdirected anger, or, at the other extreme, repressing feelings of anger (or lacking them altogether) when those feelings would be an appropriate response to the situation. Also, anger that is constantly “bottled up” can lead to persistent violent thoughts or nightmares, or even physical symptoms like headaches, ulcers, or hypertension. Anger management is becoming something all of us need at some point in our life.



Symptoms of anger

Anger can be of one of two main types: passive anger and aggressive anger. These types of anger have some characteristic symptoms to help you understand anger management:

Anger Management - Passive anger

Passive anger can be expressed in the following ways:

  • Secretive behavior, such as stockpiling resentments that are expressed behind people’s backs or through sly digs, giving the silent treatment or under the breath mutterings, avoiding eye contact, putting people down, gossip, anonymous complaints, poison pen letters, stealing, and conning.
  • Manipulation, such as provoking people to aggression and then patronizing forgiveness, provoking aggression but staying on the sidelines, emotional blackmail, in genuine tearfulness, feigning illness, sabotaging relationships, using sexual provocation, using a third party to convey negative feelings, withholding money or resources.
  • Self-blame, such as apologizing too often, being overly critical, inviting criticism you should be sorry.
  • Self-sacrifice, such as being overly helpful, pointedly making do with second best, quietly making long suffering signs but refusing help, or lapping up gratefulness and making friendly digs where it is not forthcoming.
  • Ineffectual, such as setting yourself and others up for failure, choosing unreliable people to depend on, being accident prone, underachieving, sexual impotence, expressing frustration at insignificant things but ignoring serious ones.
  • Dispassionate, such as giving the cold shoulder or phony smiles, looking cool, sitting on the fence while others sort things out, dampening feelings with substance abuse (to include overeating), oversleeping, not responding to other’s anger, frigidity, indulging in sexual practices that depress spontaneity and make objects of participants, giving inordinate amounts of time to machines, objects or intellectual pursuits, talking of frustrations but showing no feeling.
  • Obsessional behavior, such as needing to be clean and tidy, making a habit of constantly checking, over-dieting or overeating, demanding that all jobs are done perfectly.
  • Evasiveness, such as turning your back in a crisis, avoiding conflict, not arguing back, becoming phobic.


Anger Management - Aggressive anger

The symptoms of aggressive anger are:

  • Threatening, such as frightening people by saying how you could harm them, their property or their prospects, finger pointing, fist shaking, wearing clothes associated with violent behavior, driving on someone’s tail, setting on a car horn, slamming doors.
  • Hurtful, such as physical violence, verbal abuse, unfair jokes, breaking a confidence, playing loud music, using foul language, ignoring people’s feelings, willfully discriminating, blaming, or punishing people for deeds they are known not to have committed, labeling others.
  • Destructive, such as harming objects,knowingly destroying a relationship between two people, driving recklessly, drinking too much.
  • Bullying, such as threatening people, persecuting, pushing or shoving, using power to oppress, shouting, using a powerful car to force someone off the road, playing on people’s weaknesses.
  • Unjustly blaming, such as accusing other people for your own mistakes, blaming people for your own feelings, making general accusations.
  • Manic, such as speaking too fast, walking too fast, working too much and expecting others to fit in, driving too fast, reckless spending.
  • Grandiose, such as showing off, expressing mistrust, not delegating, being a poor loser, wanting center stage all the time, not listening, talking over people’s heads, expecting kiss and make-up sessions to solve problems.
  • Selfish, such as ignoring other’s needs, not responding to requests for help, queue jumping, ‘cutting in’ when driving.
  • Revengeful, such as being over-punitive, refusing to forgive and forget, bringing up hurtful memories from the past.
  • Unpredictable, such as blowing hot and cold, explosive rages over minor frustrations, attacking indiscriminately, dispensing punishment out of the blue, inflicting harm on other just for the sake of it, using drink and drugs that are known to destabilize mood, using illogical arguments.

It should be stated that anyone displaying any of these behaviors does not always have an anger management problem.

Methods of Anger Management

Psychologists recommend a balanced approach to anger management, which both controls the emotion and allows the emotion to express itself in a healthy way. Examples of which are:

  • Direct, such as not beating around the bush, making behavior visible and conspicuous, using body language to indicate feelings clearly and honestly, anger directly at persons concerned.
  • Honorable, such as making it apparent that there is some clear moral basis for the anger, being prepared to argue your case, never using manipulation or emotional blackmail, never abusing another person’s basic human rights, never unfairly depowering the weak or defenseless, taking responsibility for actions.
  • Focii, such as sticking to the issue of concern, not bringing up irrelevant material.
  • Persistent, such as repeating the expression of feeling in the argument over and over again, standing your ground.
  • Courageous, such as taking calculated risks, enduring short term discomfort for long term gain, risking displeasure of some people some of the time, taking the lead, not showing fear of other’s anger, standing outside the crowd and owning up to differences, using self-protective skills.
  • Passionate, such as using full power of the body to show intensity of feeling, being excited and motivated, acting dynamically and energetically, initiating change, showing fervent caring, being fiercely protective, enthusing others.
  • Creative, such as thinking quickly, using more wit, spontaneously coming up with new ideas and new views on subjects.
  • Forgiving, such as demonstrating a willingness to hear other people’s anger and grievances, showing an ability to wipe the slate clean once anger has been expressed.
  • With regard to interpersonal anger, Dr. Fiendler recommends[1] that people try, in the heat of an angry moment, to see if they can understand where the alleged perpetrator is coming from. Empathy is very difficult when angry, but it can make all the difference in the world. Isn't it frequently the case that when we get intensely angry at someone, the next day we feel guilty to some degree? We may say to ourselves something like, "You know, they did have a point. I sort of over-reacted." Taking the other person's point of view can be excruciating when in the throes of anger, but with practice it can become second nature.
  • Try to listen carefully to what is being said to you. Anger creates a hostility filter, and often all you can hear is negatively toned.

Buddhists, on the other hand, recommend a slightly different approach. They believe that there are several antidotes for anger management, the chief amongst them are: patience, understanding karma, equanimity, and realization of emptiness.