One strategy for controlling anger is finding agreement with another person rather than conflict. The use of deep breathing and meditation can be used as a means of relaxation. Other interventions include learning empathy, stress management skills, forgiveness, changing how you speak about yourself or others and improving optimism. Other approaches emphasize experiential exercises that enable changes in attitude reducing the tendency toward anger. As the issue of anger varies from person to person, solutions need to respect and build upon each individual's life experience.
Methods of anger management
Some Psychologists recommend a balanced approach to anger, which both controls the emotion and allows the emotion to express itself in a healthy way. Some descriptions of actions of anger management are:
- Direct This would include making behavior visible and making communication clear. The end result is to not become resentful, but rather, be honest about the feeling of anger and what is causing it.
- Honorable This includes identifying the moral basis for the anger, and being willing to dialog around the reason for the anger. In short, this includes taking responsibility for actions.
- Focused This means staying with the issue of concern, and not bringing up irrelevant material.
- Courageous This implies careful and thoughtful self-examination. Additionally, this means being willing to admit when one is wrong or when a reaction is inappropriate.
- Humility This means seeking the truth instead of merely being defensive, and self-justifying.
- Forgiveness This means acknowledging the wrong in someone else's behavior or words and then letting go of bitterness and resentment associated with that wrong.
- Listen This means hearing the other person out, asking questions around their feelings and their reasons for their action.
- Thankfulness This means finding elements related to the situation where one is genuinely appreciative and expressing that.
A common skill used in most anger management programs is learning assertive communication techniques. Assertive communication is the appropriate use of expressing feelings and needs without offending or taking away the rights of others. It is typically started with the use of "I" statements followed by a need statement. For example, "I feel upset when you don't take my feelings into consideration when you talk about your past relationships. I hope you can be more thoughtful and know what you should and should not say the next time."
Another approach is to enable a person to reduce his or her tendency to become angry. Experiential workshops such as those provided by the Alternatives to Violence Project can bring about changes in attitude and improve abilities to communicate and relate to others. Such workshops have been available in correctional settings for about 35 years.
With regard to interpersonal anger, Dr. Eva L. Feindler recommends that people try, in the heat of an angry moment, to see if they can understand where the alleged perpetrator is coming from. Empathy is very difficult when one is angry but it can make all the difference in the world. Taking the other person's point of view can be excruciating when in the throes of anger, but with practice it can become second nature. Of course, once the angry person is in conditions of considering the opposite position, then the anger based on righteous indignation tends to disappear.