Were you ever taught how to manage anger?

Anger is natural and it is a valid response to many situations, providing it does not hurt you or other people. In fact, it is one of the very first emotions we experience as young babies – yet, it is one of the last that we learn to handle effectively.

When we feel it, it is uncomfortable and it is generally accompanied by a surge of adrenaline. We can physically feel;

  • pressure building
  • tension in muscles and jaw
  • fists clenching
  • that prickly sensation of hackles rising
  • you can’t mistake it when you feel it

Why can anger create so many problems?

When anger begins to affect relationships, work, school and when it is too frequent, too intense, too long and leads to aggression – it’s time to get a handle on it.

As well as explosive outbursts, anger that is bottled up is equally important to get a handle on. When it is suppressed or ignored, anger can lead to a simmering resentment towards others and yourself. Allowing anger to fester can lead to long term consequences such as anxiety, depression and a range of physical complaints.

But why do so many of us experience it as something destructive or unwanted? It may be because we have never been told, or shown, how to express anger in a healthy or positive way. In Western society, we are generally told, when we are knee high, not to be angry. Around the age of two, when we naturally want to push boundaries and explore we are told ‘’No’’ by parents, this leads to our frustration and can regularly spiral to anger – a tantrum, the infamous Terrible Twos! Invariably, the ‘’No’’ gets louder and a punishment follows. We soon associate our own anger with being punished. As the years pass we are told to be nice, to share, to be happy. Expressing any type of anger is seen to be bad. We soon learn to suppress it…..or as we become older find it very difficult to control as we really do not know what to do with it, which can result in alienation, anti-social behaviour and in the extreme to criminal convictions.

So, how do we move forward? There is always going to be genuine occasions where we, quite rightly, feel angered by other people’s actions. In these situations, we need to have the awareness to respond to our anger, not react to it without thinking - exploding or suppressing. Anger is an emotion that tells us something is wrong, that something needs to change. It can be used as an energy for good – to motivate us into changing something in ourselves or in our lives. If we are able to distance ourselves from the initial surge of angry feelings, give ourselves time to think and then choose how to respond to the situation many good things can manifest. Read Managing Anger for further information.

If this means something to you, please reach out to someone you know you could trust.

I am Jo Tolley and I am a qualified and experienced Counsellor working in private practice near Wimborne and Blandford, Dorset.

For more information about help and support at Moving on Counselling please call me on 07484 184 256, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or complete an enquiry form on the Contact page.

I hope to speak with you soon.