Anger is a natural emotion. Let me repeat that: anger is completely natural. Even though anger is an emotion that we all feel, that we all experience, it still gets a bad rap. Anger is a secondary emotion, that means it is often a mix of several other emotions that we are feeling. These can include sadness, fear, frustration, exhaustion, worry, and embarrassment. These are not fun emotions by any means and dealing with them is difficult. Anger however can be much easier to let ourselves experiences than sadness or worry. When we’re angry we’re strong and powerful. When we’re tired or embarrassed we are weak. Who wants to be weak? This is why anger is a go to, even if we may not realize it.
Rather than trying to stifle your anger, or worse yet, let it explode on the people around you, try redirecting it in a way that can be constructive and rewarding. Using assertiveness techniques in lieu of aggression when you are angry is a widely recognized method. Assertiveness allows you to communicate your message effectively and in a way that will promote positive response from others.
Here are some assertiveness techniques that you might find helpful:
Identify your needs and wants, and ask for them to be satisfied:
Don’t wait for someone to recognize what you need (you might wait forever!)
Understand that to perform to your full potential, your needs must be met.
Find ways to get your needs met without sacrificing others’ needs in the process.
Express negative thoughts and feelings in a healthy and positive manner:
Allow yourself to be angry, but always be respectful.
Do say what’s on your mind, but do it in a way that protects the other person’s feelings.
Control your emotions.
Stand up for yourself and confront people who challenge you and/or your rights.
Receive criticism and compliments positively:
Accept compliments graciously.
Allow yourself to make mistakes and ask for help.
Accept feedback positively – be prepared to say you don’t agree but do not get defensive or angry.
Use “I want.”, “I need.” or “I feel.” to convey basic assertions.
I feel strongly that we need to bring in a third party to mediate this disagreement.
First, recognize how the other person views the situation:
I understand you are having trouble working with Arlene.
Then, express what you need:
...however, this project needs to be completed by Friday. Let’s all sit down and come up with a plan to get it done.
Ask For More Time
Sometimes, you just need to put off saying anything. You might be too emotional or you might really not know what you want. Be honest and tell the person you need a few minutes to compose your thoughts.
Dave, your request has caught me off guard. I’ll get back to you within the half hour.
Change Your Verbs
Use ‘won’t’ instead of can’t’
Use ‘want’ instead of ‘need’
Use ‘choose to’ instead of ‘have to’
Use ‘could’ instead of ‘should’.
With anything, these skills take practice but the incentives will be well worth it.
Remember! Anger is ok, aggression is not.
If you or someone you know would like help working through anger management and live in the Denver/Aurora area we invite you to contact the Center for Healing and Change!
If anger management classes are something you are interested in, please check out the “Groups” section of our home page.
Wishing you blue skies,