Student Life

Counselling and Personal Development

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Managing your anger

Feeling angry is a normal and healthy emotion, but sometimes giving in to anger seems to make matters worse. Learn more about anger and how to express it usefully.

What is anger and why do you feel it?

There can be many frustrations and disappointments in life. Feeling angry in response to these frustrations is a normal, healthy emotion. Anger is a feeling that never travels alone; it is usually accompanied by another feeling e.g. sadness, fear, guilt, frustration or disappointment.

It is important that when you do feel angry, you stop to consider what else you are feeling about the situation. Many feelings of anger are well justified because there has been an injustice done to you or another person, however, other feelings of anger are not. Some anger occurs when unrealistic expectations of yourself and/or other people are not met.

It is important to resist getting angry at events for which nothing more can be done. At these times, identify what else you might be feeling. Your energy is best spent in dealing with that emotion and learning to come to terms with what has happened.

How to express anger constructively

Anger is best expressed in a way that doesn’t make the situation worse. Your anger will go away when you feel that the unjust situation has been acknowledged and addressed.

Quick tips

What to do when you feel angry.

  1. Stop!
  2. Consider what you are angry about
  3. Consider what else you might be feeling
  4. Consider what you want to be different
  5. Consider who, when, where and how you can best bring about these changes
  6. Act when you are calmer (monitor your breathing)
  7. Choose your battles (some things are not worth fighting about)

Two expressions of anger that can jeopardise relationships are ‘aggression’ and ‘passive-aggression.’

  • Aggression includes shouting, hitting, kicking, swearing, name calling, pushing and other behaviours that are designed to attack another person or their property.
  • Passive aggression behaviour includes sarcasm, making up stories about someone, gossiping, and stubbornness. They are designed to hurt another person indirectly.

Anger and the office

Organisations are large places with lots of different people, personalities, procedures and rules, and your time there may not always go smoothly. When you are angry about something related to your work, remember that you and your colleagues are the people who can make things better.

Stay calm and reasonable when dealing with other people. Seek advice about how to best manage the situation from your colleagues or friends, or from Student Life counsellors and then try to resolve the difficulty. Being aggressive could be counterproductive.

Taking it further

Deakin website

External websites

Getting help

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17th March 2011