Grrr I’m so angry! How do I deal with this ANGER?
Everybody feels anger from time to time. Feeling angry is normal – it might be that you feel hurt, that something is unfair, someone is annoying you, or you’ve been let down. Anger can give you important messages about things you want to change, and it can help you stand up for yourself – but anger can come from many things and can be really confusing.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with such a powerful emotion. The trick is to learn how to manage and communicate feelings of anger in a way that is helpful and without 'losing it'.
REMEMBER: It’s okay to feel angry – everyone does from time to time. But don’t hurt yourself, don’t hurt others, don’t damage property – DO talk about it!
Anger and aggression – what’s the difference?
It’s important to know that anger isn’t the same as aggression – anger is a feeling, while aggression is behaviour. Aggression is usually used to hurt others or damage property. It gets you into trouble, pushes people away, and usually makes things worse. Feeling anger is OK, but acting aggressively towards others isn’t. There are good ways to express your anger without acting in hurtful or damaging ways.
Steps to help you manage anger
Step 1 – Notice when you first start to feel angry
Stop and take notice when you first start feeling anger. Don’t ignore these early signs – take action before it builds up into an explosion. Anger can be like a pot of boiling water with the lid left on – if the steam doesn’t escape and the water is left to boil, sooner or later it blows its top off! When this happens, things get out of control, and it’s not cool for anyone. You can learn to notice anger before it gets out of control, and let the steam out before it builds up and blows up.
There are different ways people feel anger:
- often your body will tell you when you’re angry – you might breathe differently, your eyes may squint (like giving the evils), your muscles may tense, or your fists may clench
- you might have a feeling of wanting to break something or hit someone
- you might get a sinking feeling in your stomach or you might feel like crying
- anger can make some people shut down and stop talking, while others snap and yell at those around them
What are your warning signs? How do you know when you start to feel angry?
Step 2 – Take time out and think it through
Many things can make you angry:
- you may get angry when something doesn’t go your way
- you might be frustrated when you don’t understand your homework or when your team loses an important game
- maybe there are kids at school teasing you
- you might get angry with your parents if their rules seem unfair, or if you get the blame for something you didn’t do
Sometimes people can feel a lot of anger and not understand why. Whatever’s making you angry, it can be helpful to first admit that you’re angry – it’s OK to feel this way. Take time out to think about it and where it comes from. Behind anger there are often feelings of hurt, disappointment, fear or powerlessness.
Stop and think about it:
- When did this feeling start?
- What was happening at that time?
- What do you think and how do you feel about what happened?
- How would you like things to be different?
- What would you like to see happen now?
Step 3 – Talk about it
Often when you start to talk about anger, you feel a lot better. Talking helps you:
- feel better because it releases the pressure that builds up inside you
- helps you come up with ideas to solve the problem or make things better, learn from what happened, and then move on
It’s best to talk about your anger with an adult who you trust and who will listen. This could be a parent, teacher, counsellor, social worker, or family member. Or you can always contact us at 0800 What’s Up – we’re here to help!
Step 4 – Do something to feel better
You might need an 'Anger Buster'! Here are some suggestions for you to try out:
- talk to a friend who cheers you up
- write down your thoughts and feelings – you could keep it or screw the paper up and throw it away
- draw a picture of your anger
- play a video game
- watch a funny movie or video
- sing along to your favourite music
- take a bike ride, go skateboarding, play basketball — do something fun!