How To Control Anger – Understanding and Taking the Right Approach

What is anger?

Anger is a natural emotion that is neither good nor bad. It is nature’s way of empowering human beings to “ward off” the perception of a threat or attack to one’s well being. It is a completely normal and perfectly healthy human emotion. However, feeling angry is not the problem; the problem is what you do with the anger… that is what makes all the difference in the world. Anger becomes a problem when it harms you and/or others.

Whether it is a fleeting annoyance towards something or a full-fledged rage, no doubt anger needs to be managed at the right time, lest it gets out of control. It is estimated that 1 out of 5 Americans have a problem managing their anger. Mismanaged rage and anger is the main cause of conflict not only in personal but also in professional relationships.

It can lead to problems in personal relationships, problems at work and can significantly compromise on your quality of life in general. For most people, anger makes them feel as if they are at the mercy of a very powerful, unpredictable and uncontrollable emotion. Divorce, road rage, domestic abuse, addiction and workplace violence are few of the many examples of what can happen if and when anger is poorly managed.
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

Categories of anger

Anger can be generally categorized into two – mild and full-blown rage. Mild anger is what includes such things as dislike, irritation or displeasure towards something/someone. When you react to criticism, frustration, or a threat, it is perfectly normal and healthy to get angry.

On the flip side of the coin is a secondary reaction to feeling lonely, sad or frightened. When mild anger turns into full-blown rage, your thinking and judgment can get impaired and this is when you are likely to do and/or say something irrational and unreasonable.

One thing that should be made very clear is that anger is not only a mental state of mind. There is a lot that comes with anger, most notably increase in blood pressure, increase in heart rate, as well as increase in noradrenaline and adrenaline levels in the body.

Another thing that you should know about anger is that it is a natural survival tactic. Generally, it forms part of flight brain response to something perceived as a threat. In other words, when you decide to confront a fear, threat or take action against something perceived to be a threat to your well-being, anger is what will help you take the action.

Important facts and information about anger

  • You are rarely angry for the reasons you think.
  • You get more angry when you are depressed, stressed and when all your body resources are down.
  • You will get angry when you do not get what you need.
  • You can get angry in reaction to something that happened to you when you were young.
  • Beneath most current angers lies traumas, disappointments, and triggers of anger.
  • Many people will get angry when a current situation unearths an old unsolved event or situation from the past.
  • Anger feelings get very strong when a current situation or event has similar words, content, or energy that one can relate to in the past.

Myths and facts about anger

Myth #1

One should not hold in anger, venting it is the healthier way out.

Fact #1

Certainly ignoring and suppressing anger can be detrimental to your health, and venting it out aggressively is not any better. Be advised that anger isn’t something that should be “let out” aggressively so as to avoid blowing up. As a matter of fact, an outburst can only fuel and reinforce the underlying anger problem.

Myth #2

Anger management revolves around learning how to suppress anger.

Fact #2

The goal of anger management is not about not getting angry. As previously mentioned anger is a normal, healthy expression of one’s feelings and whether you suppress it or not, it will eventually come out.

As such, effective anger management is always about becoming aware of your feelings and developing a healthier approach to the feelings. In other words, it is about learning how to express anger in a constructive and effective manner.

Myth #3

Anger is something that is out of control for an individual.

Fact #3

While you cannot be able to control whatever situation you find yourself in and how the situation will make you feel, rest assured you have all the power within you to control how you will express your anger. In other words, it is very much possible to express anger without being physically or verbally abusive.

How to control your anger

  1. Determine the root cause of the anger – a short fuse could be as a result of traits you picked up from when you were a child. If your parents or older siblings were throwing things around, hitting and screaming at each other, you might have been misled to believe that that is how anger should be expressed.If you have trouble expressing emotion apart from anger, you have a difficult time cooperating, you perceive different viewpoints and opinions as challenges to you, then you should sit down and clearly define the root cause of your problem.
  2. Know your anger signs and what triggers anger in you – how do you react to anger? Do you have knots in the stomach, do you feel flushed or clammy, do you have a pounding heart, breath faster, have trouble concentrating? What triggers anger? Is it that you over generalize stuff, do you mind-read and jump to conclusions, are you obsessed with “musts” and “shoulds”?
  3. Last but not least, you should know how to cool off – before seeking professional help; you can start by buying self help books on how to control anger. Digital books from Clickbank or ordering an anger management book from Amazon, can be a good starting point.


The fact that anger can get out of control means you should take the necessary measures to know how to react positively. You shouldn’t just vent it out anyhow (See article on “How to Treat and Manage Borderline Anger“) as it may end up hurting you and the people close to you.

Self management, and seeking professional guidance and help when the going gets tough, is always the right approach to know how to control anger.