We all know what anger is. We've all felt it. When anger gets out of control and turns destructive, it causes stress at work, in personal relationships, and in the overall quality of our lives. Aside from the emotional ramifications like stress and depression, prolonged anger also harms your health. It puts your heart at great risk, increases the chances of stroke, and weakens your immune system.
It's important to understand the different manifestations of anger. An ancient ethical philosophical text, Pirkei Avot, or Chapters of the Fathers, explains that anger manifests in four different ways. These are the ways people experience and deal with anger.
Type 1: One who is quick to anger but easy to appease.
Type 2: One who is slow to anger but hard to appease.
Type 3: One who is quick to anger and also hard to appease. This is only negative.
Type 4: One who is slow to anger and also easily appeased. This is only positive.
Note the wording. Why are types 3 and 4 personalities called "positive" or "negative" even though these also seem to be natural behaviors?
This is a deep insight into the psyche. It turns out, types 1 and 2 are natural. The Type 1 personality is emotional and temperamental, so he is quick to anger but also easy to appease. As quickly as he gets angry, he gets over it. The Type 2 personality is not easily emotionally affected, so she is slow to anger but also more difficult to appease because emotional fluctuations don't come easily to her.
However, Types 3 and 4 are not, in fact, natural. The Type 3 personality is hard to appease, although naturally, he should be quick to appease, based upon his tendency to be quick to anger. The Type 4 personality is easily appeased, although her natural tendency is to be slow to anger. These people have worked against the grain of their natural tendencies and formed a habit. That is why they are viewed as negative or positive personality types.
The fourth personality is the one we should all aspire to be. Notice that even this optimal state allows for feelings of anger. People who experience anger this way are still experiencing anger. We are human. Most psychologists maintain that it is unhealthy to repress our feelings, as it requires a lot of energy and can lead to larger issues over time.
That said, The Type 4 personality's anger lasts only a moment. The anger persists only until the intellect awakens against it. We should never allow this initial feeling to affect our actions.
Now that we have a better understanding of anger and its expressions, here are five tips to help you keep yours under control:
1. Take a time out and identify the source.
When you get angry, give yourself a chance to calm down. Walk away for at least a few minutes. Healthy communication at this stage is highly unlikely, so don't try it. Instead of focusing on what made you angry, work on resolving the source of the issue. Remind yourself that anger won't fix anything. On the contrary, it will only make things worse. Realize that the anger will pass and you will only regret acting on that feeling.
2. Use "I" statements and be direct.
After you have calmed down, communicate your concerns clearly and directly, without hurting or trying to control others. To avoid criticizing, use "I" statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, "I'm upset that you didn't wish me happy birthday," instead of, "You never remember anything important."
3. Catch up on sleep.
Fatigue is one of the least recognized causes of stress, anger, and other overreactions. If you are exhausted, you're much more likely to blow things out of proportion.
When you start feeling angry, try breathing exercises or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as, "My anger will pass." Listen to music, write in a journal, or just close your eyes for a few minutes to center yourself.
5. Break a sweat.
Physical activity reduces stress and improves mood, in turn helping to manage feelings of anger. If you start to get angry, go for a brisk walk or jog around your block, or spend some time doing other enjoyable physical activities.
If you implement these strategies, before long, you'll be able to stay in that desirable Type 4 zone even without breaking a sweat.