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How to Keep Yourself from Reacting to Others in Anger

Updated on November 10, 2012
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Sam leaves the boss's office with a burning sensation of anger in his chest. Standing over his desk, he throw's a folder down that explodes into pages of reports with numbers that didn't add up. Suddenly, his phone rings and a woman's voice answers, "Hello, baby." He quickly snaps back, "What do you want, now?" Shaking his head at the silence on the phone, he pushes a harsh whisper back to the receiver, "I told you not to call me at work!" Sam stuffs the phone back in his pocket with one hand and wipes the sweat from his head with the other.

Modern Ego and Anger

If anger is used in the response to a physical threat, it is a natural and healthy component of survival. However, in civilized society, "threats" have gained a new meaning and are now more part of protecting the ego than the person, property or family. The ego is the part of our personality that rates our value in two ways: the way we value ourselves, and the way others value us. In our modern world, an insult has become a devaluation of our self worth, and often, we respond with anger to the "perception" of the threat.

Misplaced Anger and The Consequences

Although Sam clearly misdirected his anger at his spouse, he was reacting to a perceived "threat" of devaluation by his boss. Perhaps his job was threatened, but his self-esteem was also wounded, and he directed his anger to a safer place, the voice on the phone. The breakdown of relationships, family and careers are often lost to angry individuals that consistently abuse those they love the most. Each individual is responsible for their decision to act out of anger and hurt others. Often, people who act out in anger will state that the "person made them angry."

No One Can Make You Act Out in Anger

When one reacts in anger to a stress, they chose or not chose to handle the situation with rage. Although the baseball that just went through the living room window can justify anger, reacting to the crisis with the belittlement of your child or spouse is not going to restore the window to a solid glass plane, but it will scar your child or spouse with a lifetime of emotional memories. As the emotional scars build in those you care for from your cross and hurtful words, resentment rears its ugly head. Anger creates resentment, and resentment is the ruination of most relationships.

Steps to Recognizing Your Anger

Most people gain insight when they evaluate and analyze their emotional reactions to stress. A good place to start is to take personal inventory and reflect on the reasons you respond negatively to stress, criticism or fear. Finding the causes for your rage can help you find a way to control your anger and understand it.

  • Traumatic and abusive childhood
  • Cultural aspects of anger in a family
  • Fear of loss or jealousy
  • Unhappy with your life or career
  • Depression or anxiety disorder
  • Poor coping mechanisms due to substance abuse
  • Personality disorder or mental illness
  • Rare: Tumors of the nervous system

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Battered Children become Angry Adults

Children who are battered by their parents are taught to respond to stress or solve problems with violence. Adult children who have experienced parental abuse or have witnessed the battering of a parent have a 70 percent chance of becoming a batterer themselves.The child sees the batterer as the person who has the power and is in control of the family. In the pursuit to feel safe and in control of their own world, children will mimic the abuser and find their own power as a batterer. Adults who have been traumatized frequently go through their lives with an angry wounded inner child that reacts to stress and criticism with anger and rage. Parents who teach and respond to their children with positive coping stress management skills truly raise powerful children. Studies have shown that the ability to handle stress is more valuable to a successful adult life than high intelligence or the possession of a brilliant talent.

Bullies are Angry and Afraid

Although the complex nature of the "bully" is contributed to biological, genetic and environmental factors, uninformed parents that inflict anger towards their children do induce fear and promote low self-esteem. In order to increase their own self worth, bullies seek to find and exploit the flaws in others by defining them as inferior, thereby, making the bully more superior. Adult bullies also use misplaced anger to improve their egos and restore their value by "taking it out" on their children, spouses or the family pet.

Control is an Illusion

Anger is usually a response to fear of losing control. People can only control how they react to others; they cannot control other people. In other words, the only power you possess is the power to control your own actions. Giving up the illusion of control is a major step forward in letting go of anger.

Be Assertive, Not Aggressive

Anger is a natural emotion that occurs in to every individual and is part of survival. However, the expression of anger can be dangerous and hurtful to those exposed to it. People use different methods of controlling their anger and aggression, and not all are healthy. Controlling your anger does not mean you have to accept the abuse of others, it means you have to be assertive--not aggressive, to successfully control your angry outbursts.

  • Unhealthy: Suppression of anger may cause hypertension, heart disease or other health conditions
  • Unhealthy: Anger is suppressed and turned inward and causes depression, anxiety and emotional disorders
  • Unhealthy: Unexpressed anger may lead to deviant behavior, fantasies of revenge or an unresolved hate turned on others.
  • Healthy: Expressing your anger in an assertive, but not an aggressive manner is the healthiest way to control your emotions. For instance, your child broke a neighbors window and now the neighbor is yelling at you in your front yard. You firmly assert yourself and demand that your neighbor "stop yelling and calms down so you can talk about the problem like two grownups." Being assertive, not aggressive,provides a powerful message to your child as well.

Practice Makes Perfect

Chances are, if you have a problem with anger, you were probably never taught how to deal with the stress of being human. As social creatures, it's hard to escape the chance interaction of a human being that will make you angry. Be assertive, not aggressive. Make your needs known in a diplomatic but firm manner. Practice makes perfect, and give yourself time to perfect your new way of looking at life. An expression of anger is a choice, just like any other decision we make as humans. You don't have to choose to be angry anymore.

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    • Saswati CM profile image

      Saswati Chakraborty Misra 3 years ago from Bangalore

      Nice Article, Indeed, In fact I was just reading your article and mine on the same topic and trying to find the similar facts. Well would like to ask one question???

      Do you think Anger is an obsession or a syndrome? How would you justify?

    • Mark Alaimo profile image

      Mark Alaimo 3 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      Thank you for your insightful Hub. My anger and PTSD are triggered by control issues. I enjoyed reading "Control is an Illusion", because that small paragraph contained so much substance. Thank you again.

    • profile image

      rj gore 4 years ago

      Good advice! Thanks!!

    • Gail Meyers profile image

      Gail Meyers 4 years ago from United States

      Another helpful, informative, well-written hub on an important topic. I have gotten to the point of knowing when I see one of your hubs it is going to fit that description. Voted up, useful, pinned, tweeted and shared on npd mother FB page.

    • eHealer profile image
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      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      ActionBronson, very cool name! If you are a fan of psychology, you will always be both wise and rarely deceived. Thank you for your kind comments, and I look forward to seeing more of your hubs! Welcome to the hubs, and I hope to see more of you!

    • eHealer profile image
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      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hi Epi, thank you for missing me! I am just kind of lying around and moving from the bed to the couch, I can't seem to wake up! I am so glad you found this hub helpful, I am honored that you read my hubs. Thank you so much and am awaiting your next masterpiece! I will be there! Your friend, Deborah

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 4 years ago

      ...you always speak words of wisdom Deborah and I learn so much from you. Your skill as a writer is in your wonderful ability to communicate your life affirming messages of hope and reassurance.

      Yes I have missed you -so thank you for letting me know that you're alright and I am so sorry that you have been sick for a few days.

      Please take special care of yourself in the meantime until you're 100% better though and sending you warm wishes and good energy from lake erie time canada 4:28pm

    • actionbronson profile image

      actionbronson 4 years ago

      I've only read about 5 of your hubs and can tell I will be a huge fan of your content! I've taken every psychology coarse offered at the community college level and "abnormal psychology" was definitely the most interesting class I've taken in the field of psychology. Your hubs discussing personality disorders are very interesting and your hubs helping others is very inspirational!

    • eHealer profile image
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      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hello Theresa, I am so honored that you found it helpful. We can always teach our adult children, as well as our parents! Knowledge is key to all things beautiful. Thanks for your supportive comments, it is so nice to see you as usual.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Excellent Hub. Well written and well explained. We have had some excessive anger issues in our family. Your essay will help me talk to my adult children about it. Thank you. Theresa

    • eHealer profile image
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      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Devsree, Great comment and so true!

    • devisree profile image

      devisree 4 years ago from India

      Hi eHealer,

      Very informative and thinkable hub.

      Truly our emotions guide us in leading a peaceful life.So we have to control our emotions especially anger.Voted up

    • eHealer profile image
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      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hey Spartucusjones, thanks for the support feedback. Most people struggle with anger issues, especially in their teens. Between powerful hormones and the struggles of growth and development phases, the world seems over powering to most of us for a period of time. I'm glad you got it under control and understand the causes. You are a smart dude!

    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 4 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Very practical info. As someone who has struggle with anger issues during my teenage years, I agree the first step to coming to grips is identifying the underlying reasons. Once you know the reason you can address the cause and not the symptoms. Thanks for providing an important public service with this info.

    • eHealer profile image
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      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Denise, we are all guilty of misplaced anger, but we have to remember how it affects our relationships. Thanks for the support, and I appreciate your comments so very much!

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      There is certainly a chain reaction when we have a difficult experience. We tend to pass our difficult feelings on to those we love, and that makes for relationships on the rocks at home. Thanks for the warning!

      PS. Awesome illustrations!

    • eHealer profile image
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      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hello viewfinder, nice to meet you. Thanks for the support!

    • viewfinders profile image

      viewfinders 4 years ago from God's own country(kerala)

      good information,,thank you for sharing .i think it will help to control the sudden anger.voted interesting

    • eHealer profile image
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      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Excellent Sue, I have known these people and they like it when they make you lose control! The button pushers. Thanks for your great comments~!

    • profile image

      Sueswan 4 years ago

      Hi eHealer,

      I know that a person chooses to be angry but there are those people who like to push others buttons. By getting angry we are giving them the control.

      Voted up and interesting

      Have a great week :)

    • eHealer profile image
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      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks LoveDoctor, always glad to see you!

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      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      This is very helpful. I found this information useful. thanks for sharing.

    • eHealer profile image
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      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hi Mhatter, I am glad you found it useful, I am always glad to see you at my hubs!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Good information. Thank you. It has come to my attention how forgiving we can be when we can't talk.