There is usually a negative connotation with the emotion anger. However, it is not always a bad thing. It is important to remember that is a God given emotion. It can play both positive and negative roles in your life and in your relationships with others. Anger can motivate you to stand up for the rights of others, and/or make significant changes for the better in your own life.
However, anger can also destroy your friendships. Sadly, this is the case more often than not. Even the bible dedicates several versus about the matter:
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. (Proverbs 29:11)
A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)
A hot-tempered man stirs up conflict, but a patient man calms a quarrel. (Proverbs 15:18)
Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city. (Proverbs 16:32)
In order to help you avoid the adverse effects of anger in your friendships, let’s take a brief look at 6 ways to control your anger effectively.
Overcome Anger a Step at a Time
You should learn to think about your style of expressing anger as a process. This helps you to see the individual steps involved in improving your response to people and situations. It does not do much good when you tell yourself: “I need to quit getting angry.” Anger will not suddenly depart from you because it is a natural human emotion. But you can learn to ask yourself: “Why am I getting angry? Should I really be getting angry about this?”
Try focusing on how you are currently expressing your feelings of anger, and then work at improving your response a step at a time. Think of your anger on levels. Ask yourself two questions: “What level of rung of anger am I on right now? What would the next level of anger look like?”
Think about a major change you can make now to reduce the intensity of your fury. For instance, if you usually express your anger by shouting at your friend, you should determine in your mind to stop shouting. This appears to be very simplistic, but it works. A tiny change is easier to make than a big one. And several little changes can put you in total control of your feelings.
Observe the Body Signs Connected with Anger
Start paying close attention to the bodily sensations you experience when you are angry. It will take a while to master them, but by developing a strong awareness of these signs, you will quickly sense when you are getting angry. Then you will be able to keep your anger in check before it becomes full-blown.
Express Anger Directly to the Offender
Whenever it is possible, make sure you express your feelings of anger to the actual person who made you angry. Don’t avoid the person. You should also resist the urge to gossip about it. Avoid drugs or alcohol to deal with your anger. This will not deal with the main source of the issue.
Clarify the Reason for Your Anger
You should always strive to be clear about the reason why you are angry. It helps you to manage your emotions better. Find out the actual emotion that is fueling your anger? Is it your self-esteem, your finances, or built up stress. Once you know the reason, you will be able to handle it efficiently.
Avoid Venting Anger Over Trivial Matters
Ask yourself whether the issue you are getting angry over is really important or not. Trivial issues are not worth all the negative effects that anger brings. However, even when it is an important issue that is making you angry; consider all the harm that can come out of uncontrolled expression of anger. Most times, it is better control yourself and avoid the negative consequences.
Record Your Angry Experiences
Keep a small anger journal while you are working to control your anger. What should you put inside? Each time you get very angry, record the date, place and time. Also, write down the name of the person that got you angry, the prevailing circumstances and what you were angry about. You may also make a little note of your mood, stress or fatigue levels and whether you were under the influence of alcohol. After you have recorded a couple of instances, you should look for patterns. Then apply the other tips to reduce and eliminate future outbursts of anger.
“Fight Fair: Winning At Conflict Without Losing at Love”, Tim & Joy Downs, 2010