Recognizing & Managing Anger

1. Know how Anger Evolves?

You may see a man at work having a bad day and being short with others. He may explain that he is upset because of an argument he had earlier with his wife. This is would be an example of displaced anger—anger demonstrated in one situation that originated from another. By letting your anger build up over time, without inventory and without processing it, you may lose sight of how your anger first evolved. And this is why you end up displacing your anger somewhere else later.

How do you inventory and process your anger? You need to:

  • Note people, places, and things
  • Determine what you are not getting
  • Decide if you fear losing something

Note People, Places, and Things

Be keenly aware and focus on your emotion of anger. Listen to what it is telling you. A short, angry reaction to someone in the car next to you probably has nothing to do with the person in that car. Rather than focusing on an object or innocent bystander, search inward.

Are you upset by something that someone else said or did? Does a particular place or location drum up negative feelings for you? Or is there one thing that always seems to set you off? Review your recent, and sometimes distant, past for where the focus of your anger lies.

Determine what you are not getting

Search for unfulfilled desires, expectations, wants, or needs. What has happened in work or in your family relationships where things didn’t go your way? What expectations were not met?

You can learn to determine what you are not getting if you can be quiet for a period and let your thoughts rise to your awareness. (Remember the old advice to count to ten?) Listen closely to your internal conversations and determine what you want but are not getting.

Decide if you fear losing something

Sometimes it is easy to recognize that you have a fear of losing something in your life—a car, a job, a relationship. Those are extreme losses, but what about smaller losses? Do you become angry if you’ve missed a deadline, missed a client’s call, or your child’s ball game? What could you lose by these scenarios? Identifying the loss is often easy, and connecting it with anger requires insight.