Myths about anger
- Actively expressing your anger reduces it.
This myth involves two important errors: first that expressing your rage reduces its risks to your health, and second, that letting your resentment out will make you less angry. There is a good deal of evidence that chronic anger is a risk factor for heart disease. In addition, there have been numerous studies that conclude both verbal and physical expressions of anger lead to more, not less, anger and violence.
- Take time out when you feel angry.
This myth sounds like a good idea on the surface. The goal might be to take a break in order to calm down. However, there are some problems with this way of dealing with anger. First, avoidance behavior tends to backfire. When you run away from difficulties, they do not magically disappear. They tend to fester and grow into even bigger problems. Second, avoiding your feelings stops you from discovering how to manage them better. If you stay, calm yourself down, and seek to handle things differently, then you learn from your coping actions and are likely to be more effective in the future.
- Outside events make you angry.
This myth suggests that you have no control over your anger. When people get angry they often fail to take responsibility for their own feelings. If outside events really made us angry, we would all respond the same way to similar happenings. What accounts for different emotional reactions or responses? In most cases, your beliefs about the things that are happening determine your emotional responses.
- Anger cannot be prevented, only suppressed.
This myth instills the idea that anger is a force that, at best, can only be pushed down or minimized. However, it is possible not merely to hide your anger or pretend you are not angry, but to think your way out of having any anger at all. We can talk ourselves into being mad or talk ourselves out of being mad.
Truth about anger
As discussed in the books, How to Control Your Anger Before It Controls You, by Dr. Albert Ellis, and an updated version, Anger Management for Everyone: Seven Proven Ways to Control Anger and Live a Happier Life by Dr. Raymond Chip Tafrate, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is an effective treatment approach to address anger problems. The premise of REBT is that if you can change the manner in which you think about an event, you will feel differently about it, and alter the way you behaviorally react to it. There is a distinction between frustration, a healthy negative emotion, and anger, an unhealthy negative emotion. If you are frustrated, it motivates you to problem solve and find new solutions. If you are angry or enraged, you tend to not think and react impulsively leading often to destructive choices or consequences.
Damage to personal relationships is one of the most common costs of anger, and often one of the worst. We commonly make ourselves angry at individuals we know well. If you would like to take steps to break the cycle of anger that is causing pain in your life, consider giving Pike Creek Psychological Center a call. Taking some action may bring more happiness to your life.