We all get angry. It’s a normal emotion. However, some of us handle our anger better than others.
While one person might be a bit unhappy when someone cuts him off in traffic, another is so angry that he shouts and swears, and starts driving aggressively himself.
How can the same event cause such different reactions? And how can you make sure that your reaction is the calm one, instead of the wild one?
How Good Is Your Anger Management?
So how well do you manage your anger? Use the online test to find out how well you do.
For each statement, click the button in the column that best describes you. Please answer questions as you actually are (rather than how you think you should be), and don’t worry if some questions seem to score in the ‘wrong direction’. When you are finished, please click the ‘Calculate My Total’ button at the bottom of the test.
18 Statements to Answer
|Not at All||Rarely||Sometimes||Often||Very Often|
|1I seem to get angry unexpectedly, without really understanding why.|
|2When someone makes me angry, I try not to show my emotions, and pretend to tolerate it.|
|3When I encounter a problem, I identify the “right” solution myself and get it implemented as fast as possible.|
|4When I’m angry, I hit something (or I want to hit something).|
|5When something frustrating happens, I know it’s not the end of the world.|
|6When something really frustrates me, I can usually see the humor in the situation, and I laugh at myself and/or the others involved.|
|7When people make me angry, I try to understand why they did or said what they did.|
|8I feel that I’m able to control my anger.|
|9I can forgive people after they’ve hurt or angered me.|
|10When I feel angry, I give myself a “time out” (I walk away to calm down).|
|11I have an activity, hobby, or routine I use to release my feelings of anger.|
|12When I’m angry, I tend to focus on my feelings and how I’ve been wronged.|
|13After I’ve been angry, I think about what I could or should have done to control my anger better.|
|14When I’m angry, I find alternatives and give myself enough time to make a good choice to solve my problems.|
|15When I’m angry, I tend to yell, curse, and say things that I later regret.|
|16When someone asks me to do something I really don’t want to do, I agree – and then I’m angry at myself later.|
|17If I know a certain situation will make me angry, I avoid it.|
|18If another person damages something of mine due to carelessness, I confront the person and use the situation to talk about responsibility.|
|18-41||You seem to let your anger control you, which probably causes you all sorts of problems. In turn, this may make you more angry. Fortunately, you can learn how to break this cycle. Read the rest of the article for some great strategies for managing your anger. (Read below to start.)|
|42-66||You’re able to manage your anger in some situations and not others. You have a few strategies that work for you, however, you’ll benefit from a better understanding of what causes your anger, and what actions you can take to better manage your emotions. (Read below to start.)|
|67-90||Well done! You have a very good understanding of what makes you angry, and you know what to do when you start to feel signs of trouble. You’ve developed a wide range of anger management strategies, and you can be proud of these. (Read belowfor more.)|
The goal of anger management is not to eliminate anger completely: that isn’t possible, since it’s a natural human emotion. Rather, the objective is to control and direct your anger – so that it doesn’t control you, or damage an important relationship or situation.
In Anger Management: Channelling Anger into Performance , we discuss Redford Williams’ steps for controlling anger. There are three key elements to these:
- Understanding what causes your anger.
- Reducing your angry reactions.
- Controlling your anger when you experience it.
Understand What Causes Your Anger
(Questions 1, 8, 13)
One of the most effective approaches for managing anger is to identify the sources of the anger you experience. Once you know what makes you angry, you can develop strategies for dealing with it. When you’re in the middle of a bad situation, it’s hard to think logically and rationally, so understanding what causes your anger can help you plan how to deal with it.
- Use a diary or “anger log” to write down the times, people, and situations that make you angry.
- Look for trends, or things that make you angry often.
- Ask yourself why these things make you angry. Do you connect certain memories to these sources of anger? Do you feel that goals are being frustrated, or that something important to you is being threatened?
Reduce Your Angry Reactions
While you probably won’t eliminate anger completely, you can certainly reduce the frequency and scope of your anger. The less angry you are in general, the more control you’ll have over your emotions. Since much of our anger can come from frustration and stress, if you work on ways to ease and reduce these causes of frustration and stress, you’ll reduce the amount of anger in your life.
Use Problem Solving Skills
(Questions 3, 5, 14)
A great way to reduce stress is to improve your problem solving skills. We sometimes feel that everything we do needs to be correct and turn out well, and this can be frustrating when things don’t turn out as they should. Instead of expecting yourself always to be right, commit to doing your best. That way you can be proud of your effort even if the end result isn’t what you want.
Also, accept that when something doesn’t work out, the world usually won’t end. Sometimes you just need to relax and not let things bother you. We may think that we should have an answer for everything – but the truth is, we don’t!
Use Communication Skills
(Questions 7, 12, 15, 18)
You can also reduce anger by improving your communication skills. When you relate well to other people, express your needs, and talk about issues that bother you, you deal with potential anger proactively.
- Build empathy – When you understand another person’s perspective, it helps you analyze the situation objectively and understand your role in the conflict. Accept that you may not always know best!
- Learn to trust others – Assume the best in people, and don’t take their actions personally.
- Listen – Use active listening to consider what the other person has to say, and then think before you speak. In many situations, the best way to deal with anger is to accept it, and then find ways to move forward. This can protect your relationships with people, and it allows you to acknowledge your feelings.
- Be assertive, not aggressive – By improving your assertiveness skills , you can reduce the frustration that you feel when your needs aren’t being met. When you know how to ask for what you want, you’ll generally feel more in control, and less likely to say things that you’ll later regret.
Don’t try to communicate when you’re still upset. See the next section on controlling your anger for ideas on how to do this.
Release Your Anger
(Questions 2, 9, 11, 16)
You can reduce the likelihood of losing control by releasing the anger that you’ve built up. When you get rid of angry feelings on a regular basis, you’ll feel calmer and more even-tempered, and you’ll be more able to deal with the ups and downs of daily life. You can do a variety of things to release your anger, including the following:
- Take 10 deep breaths. It really does work!
- Do some physical activity – walk, run, swim, play golf, or do some other sport. This can be great for releasing the stress and frustration you’ve built up!
- Use a punching bag or a pillow to physically express your anger (in a way that’s not harmful).
- Do yoga, or another relaxing form of exercise.
- Participate in a fun activity or hobby.
- Use a journal and/or art to express your feelings.
- Forgive. At some point, it helps to let go and move on with a fresh attitude.
Some people believe that they have to hold their anger in to control it. This is not is an effective anger management strategy. Even if you don’t show anger to others, that emotion has to go somewhere: it can be stubborn, and it usually doesn’t go away on its own.
Control Your Anger When You Experience It
(Questions 4, 6, 10, 17)
When you start to feel angry, what do you do? Controlling yourself in a bad situation can be difficult, and your actions will have consequences.
External reactions – like kicking and screaming – don’t help. You may feel good for a little while, but later, you’ll surely feel foolish and sorry. Also, you may do permanent damage to relationships and your reputation.
When you feel that you can’t hold your anger in any longer, here are some great strategies to try:
Change Your Environment
- Take a break and physically remove yourself from the conflict. Go to another room, go for a walk, or count to 10. This may give you time to gain perspective and simply calm down.
- Learn to avoid situations that you know will cause your anger. If you don’t like your teammate’s messy desk, don’t go into her office.
- If you regularly do something that makes you angry, try to find something else to do in its place. For example, if the crowded elevator upsets you every morning, take the stairs.
- Think of something funny to say (but don’t be rude or sarcastic).
- Try to see the funny side of the situation.
- Imagine the other person in a silly situation.
- Learn to laugh at yourself.
- Smile. It’s hard to be angry with a smile on your face.
Calm Yourself Physically
- Use physical relaxation techniques. Take slow, deep breaths and concentrate on your breathing.
- Tighten and release small muscle groups. Focus on your hands, legs, back, and toes.
- Repeat a word or phrase that reminds you to stay in control and remain confident. For example, say, “You’ll get through this. Relax! You’re doing a great job!”
- Practice imagery techniques. Use your imagination or memory to visualize a calming place or situation.
It is natural to feel, express, and release anger. However, there are appropriate ways to do so – and that’s what anger management is all about.
You can get a strong insight into your anger issues by understanding what makes you angry. From there, you can create a plan to minimize frustration and anger in your life.
When you do get angry, there are many approaches you can try to calm down – including changing your environment, using humor, and practicing relaxation techniques. It’s also important to release your anger on a regular basis.
Don’t let your anger control you. Instead, face it – and take back control of anger – and of your life!