Are you constantly biting off peoples’ heads? Is your loved one screaming and shouting all the time? Is aggressiveness becoming a problem for yourself or for other people in your life? Do you know yourself or remember yourself to be ‘an angry person’? Chances are you may not have even have noticed that you have problems controlling your anger and that other people have a problem with this. People may be avoiding you or walking on eggshells around you.
Different men have different underlying reasons for their lack of control of anger. In our society, men are encouraged to not express depression and often find a more suitable route for their depression through anger and aggression. For some men, the inappropriate expression of anger is a dysregulation (a big word that means he can’t control himself properly) of anger, often coming out as explosive, even violent at times. Usually, this anger is paired with other ‘problems’ like impulsivity, constant problems in relationships with partners, friends and colleagues (usually disruptive, short-lived, easily discarded relationships) and a history of being very difficult.
No matter what the reason for the problems with anger, there are no short-term easy answers on how to manage anger and therapy is usually needed to find more enduring solutions for the underlying reasons for it. Although anger is a natural response, it becomes dangerous and hurtful often in the name of expressing a feeling or being honest; appropriate anger is expressed as assertiveness or as irritation or as anger, but not as rage, violence, physical harm or self-harm. Oddly, aggressive people are not assertive and often confuse the two things: assertiveness is setting an appropriate boundary, it is not the transgression of someone else boundary.
Some things to try, if you feel your anger responses are not too extreme:
- Relaxation and meditation can be useful in stilling your mind; breathing exercise and yoga can be a compliment to this.
- Stop and recount your actions and thoughts, aim to rethink the situation logically, as logic is anger’s worst enemy. Pinpoint extremes in your thinking such as ‘always’, ‘never’ and ‘whenever’. Question the proof in front of you for why you are angry and think whether your anger is proportionate to the issue at hand.
- Solve problems, don’t make them worse. Although anger can be appropriate and even justified, it can be destructive and make things worse. Solving problems takes calmness and sensibility.
- Learn to express your feelings healthily through creativity, exercise and refine communication skills.
- Deflect your anger by finding the humour in situations, rather than taking the route of the victim or the aggressor (two states that often underscore aggressive responses).
- Balance your life with exercise, time management, stress-relief and self-care.
- Rid you world of unnecessary irritations such as dirty surroundings or messy desks or whatever else you feel bothers you and that you can control.
- Avoid things, people and places that fuel your anger, but remember that it is still YOUR anger and no-one causes it. Anger is an internal response that we can control if we try, no-one plants it in us.
Remember that anger is not aggression and if people are describing you as aggressive, they’re probably right.