Do you know what’s hard about being a hothead? Is that sometimes the outburst just creeps up on you when you least expect it. It becomes an out-of-body experience where your muscles get tense, you can feel your heartbeat get louder, and your body feels hot as if it burns to the touch. Then you’re raising your voice trying to get your point across, hitting the wall to let go of some tension, throwing things out of frustration, anything to deal with the madness.
Then suddenly, you stop seeing red. You’ve walked away or sat there alone, entire body shaking, thinking to yourself…
“What just happened?”
“How did it turn out this way?”
Whether it’s an argument with your mom, best friend, romantic partner, or even some random customer service rep, it makes you feel even worse than how you felt prior. Anger left unchecked is hard to cope with sometimes. Unlike depression or anxiety, which are said to be dysfunctional forms of sadness or worry, uncontrollable anger doesn’t have an official diagnosis.
Throughout my life, I have dealt with my temper getting the better of me. It has put me in situations I didn’t want; it has created glass-shattering moments for those getting to know me, and time and time again… it’s always a regretful experience or memory.
To better understand myself, and other hotheads out there, I’ve started to read and learn more about anger management. Here are some things I learned that really help me deal with my bad temper.
Licking Old Wounds
Have you ever experienced being in a conversation with someone then all of a sudden, they snap at you? Or when you’re at home working on a paper or playing a video game, your mom comes in and starts a fight? When anger is experienced and displayed inappropriately or disproportionately, it can tell us where we still need to heal. It shows we still have some events from the past that have left deep wounds and similar situations will make us react the same way every time. We must invest in sitting with our demons and find closure from those events so we can let go of what’s hurting us and move on.
Tip of the Iceberg
The Anger Iceberg speculates that although what we see is aggression, other emotions are hidden beneath the surface fueling the outburst. This shows that we are quick to anger because we may not have the skills to manage feelings that are uncomfortable or make us feel vulnerable effectively. We need always to look past the anger and see what’s really the issue in the situation. Ask ourselves what we are truly experiencing, open it up to the conversation, and create a safe space to express ourselves.
Respond vs React
Those who embrace uncomfortable emotions such as anger, rather than avoiding or repressing them, have greater emotional intelligence. You can gain wisdom from the livid experiences, create better emotional responses, and become adaptive and resilient. Finding the appropriate treatment avenue to manage anger takes a lot of reflection and practice, learn them not to repress it but to be able to express it in a better way.
Fight or Flight
Our emotions are a natural reaction to our environment, and anger is designed to keep us safe. When we feel threatened, anger serves as an automatic response to fight back to protect ourselves. If we learn to see a situation as non-threatening, we may tame our anger and handle what’s causing it carefully and rationally.
Crossed the Line
Sometimes people push our buttons, and we don’t exactly know why, or they’re committing our pet peeves without realizing it. Getting irritated or annoyed can tell us that our expectations are too high. Whether we have communicated them clearly or not, if we tell ourselves we are doing the best we can under stressful circumstances, we will react with less hostility and frustration.
Heated but Motivated
Being angry doesn’t always mean it’s bad. Sometimes it is a good indicator of what is truly important to us. When we experience injustice, anger not only lets us know but gives us the power to do something about it. Sometimes it is needed to create dramatic change because it naturally makes your mind focused and sharp.
There are healthy ways to express anger and not one fits all. From walking away to cool down, exercising to let off steam, or talking to someone you trust, every situation calls for a different way to cope or solve the issue. Honing proper self-care habits and communication skills are important treatment avenues everyone should have when dealing with anger, or any other uncomfortable or vulnerable feeling.