Dealing with the bad stuff
Emotions: Anger
Frightening Events
You may be the sort of person who gets angry very easily. Or, you may be one of those who hardly ever get angry. Most of us are somewhere in between. Whether you get angry often or not, what you do with your anger matters. If you express your anger in ways that are not acceptable to society, then you may get into trouble for it. But fear of getting into trouble is not the only reason for managing your anger. There are better reasons for controlling yourself.

Avoid extremes!
Feeling angry is not wrong. Feeling angry is part of being a healthy human being, just like feeling happy or sad. When things happen around you, or when you're thinking of something, your body responds through feelings. When feelings are strong, we call them emotions. We say that anger, grief, envy and hate are negative emotions, in contrast to love and joy. Even negative emotions are there for a reason. They help your mind figure out what is happening and how it affects you.

Don't tell yourself that you must never have emotions. When you start feeling them, don't immediately try to push these emotions down to hide them deep within you. That's not healthy. If you do it often enough, it can even make you ill.

But, that doesn't mean that you should respond to your anger by lashing out, shouting and screaming in a temper tantrum either. Neither extreme is good for you. Then there are people who swing from one to the other - they bottle up their feelings until they can't stand it any more and then, have an emotional outburst!

Think first!
What should you do when you have strong feelings such as anger?

Allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling but think before you do or say anything.

That takes self-control. With practice, most of us can pause long enough to think first. When we are able to do that, we can figure out whether our anger is justified. Then, we can use our emotions to energise us into fixing problems and improving situations.

When you get angry, ask yourself these questions before deciding what to do or say.
  1. What is making me angry?
  2. Why is it making me angry?
  3. Whom am I angry with?
  4. Is the anger justified?
  5. What do I feel like doing?
  6. Is there a better way to fix the problem?
  7. Can I do it myself or will I need help?
  8. Whom can I turn to?

You should also have some ways to make yourself feel better. Lynne Namka, an expert on anger, suggests these:
  • Draw pictures about what makes you angry. Put your pictures in the freezer to cool off those angry feelings.
  • Blow soap bubbles and imagine that you are putting your anger into the bubbles. Watch those feelings float away and poof!
  • Use dolls or stuffed animals to act out the story of what made you angry.

You know yourself. You may prefer to turn on the music and dance away your anger. Or take a long shower. Or go for a brisk walk. Experiment with different ideas and see what works for you.

Getting help
You may be able to work on managing your anger by yourself. Or you may do better with some help. Maybe you can sort out your feelings by sharing them with family members and trustworthy friends. There are also counselors and others who teach children how to manage anger.

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