How to learn to manage anger
What happens to your body when you get angry? Nothing good, but maybe you already imagined it. When we say that getting too angry hurts you don’t stray too far from the truth: anger creates constant tension and a sort of overload that we feel on a physical level, and in which we invest a lot of energy. If mentally anger triggers a self-sustaining negativity, on a physical level it can give rise to a series of psychosomatic reactions that are anything but pleasant.
In short, getting angry is legitimate in many cases, and it is a physiological human reaction, but be careful to manage anger. Being constantly angry hurts, and the inability to manage this feeling – as well as hurting ourselves – can become problematic in our social life. As always when emotions become difficult to manage, it is important to listen to the hidden message.
We asked prof. Roberto Pani , clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst in Bologna, some useful advice against anger .
Breathe and take your time
Does the popular suggestion ” count to ten before you get angry” any use? “I think so, because it means taking space and time before getting involved in an identification with the subject or with the person we are relating to.”
The point is precisely this: you feel involved because you identify with the words or the person they come from: starting a process of change means working on yourself and, gradually, stop identifying by creating a distance from what triggers our protection mechanisms.
Listen and reflect on each other’s words
A sentence pronounced by the other can be misunderstood and offend us more or less strongly: one of the most frequent mistakes is to take the other’s thoughts for granted or to rely on superficial listening .
Many misunderstandings and misunderstandings arise on the basis of differences of thought , but also because each of us uses different words to express concepts on which, in part, we could agree. Counting to ten means taking about fifteen seconds to settle our emotional behavior and therefore having the time to ask ourselves: “Did the other really intend to provoke me, offend me, or did I mean it wrong?”.
Be aware of diversity
The thought to develop? “Well, perhaps I misunderstood : it is better that I ask him a few questions to make sure that there have been no misunderstandings that would cause the friendship to break, even if temporarily, or definitively.”
Asking questions is an important tool to avoid snapping and learn to exercise positive curiosity , exploring the thinking of those in front of you without prejudice.
Keep in mind that the person you are confronting with may have a history and a way of reasoning very distant from the experiences of your life: cultivating the ability to dialogue means opening up to differences. This does not mean justifying the other or having to find a common point at all costs, but simply accepting that one can think differently .
React with irony and detachment
We don’t all have the same ideas. What else should you ask yourself before getting angry? «The replies he replied to me tell me that this person is in any case indelicate and is basically offending me? Although I can’t bear him easily, and can’t forgive him, it helps me more that I can answer him with a certain irony ».
An ironic attitude presupposes a capacity for detachment capable of putting a distance between us and the problem: developing elasticity means recognizing the difference and being able to transform the conversation into a healthy comparison , or even have a laugh.
Accept the reality
Perhaps he may understand that he was being offensive and rude, so have the opportunity to apologize . Regardless of whether I am able to forgive him, it is important to be aware that he is like this: accepting reality is fundamental.
As the expert explains, in some cases we cannot do anything to change an opinion or relate to the other in a positive way.
Age or life experiences can contribute to a rigid vision: “The other cannot always change his way of doing something inappropriate or uneducated: I can only consider that in this way, once again, I will keep away from certain arguments and I will no longer so naively fall into a totally unproductive trap.
That’s right, one-sided arguments risk becoming a trap, so why spend all your energy trying to get something the other can’t understand?
What if the offense is serious? In some cases the sense of hostility is such that one wishes – after counting to ten – to move away from that person definitively.
When in addition to anger there remains the feeling that the relationship is not for us, not only do I have to save my dignity, but also to end a potential relationship that may never grow.
In this case, what anger communicates is a primordial emotion, capable of transforming itself into positive change when it is awareness of what we really want.