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Increase Resilience: How to Manage Anger

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According to American Psychological Association: “resilience is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands”. In addition, we often need to be resilient even in the face of positive changes : increased responsibility, forward progress, and significant positive events can result in the need for adaptation and recovery (Youssef & Luthans 2007). In the book “The Resilience Factor”, Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte (2002) identify five typical emotions that are associated with lack of resilience: anger, sadness and depression, guilt, anxiety and fear, embarrassment.

How to Manage Anger?

Managing anger effectively is crucial for maintaining emotional health and resilience, both in personal and professional settings. Here are three strategies for managing anger to increase resilience, along with examples for each:

1.Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques help in recognizing the early signs of anger and in calming the mind and body before the anger escalates. These practices enhance self-awareness and emotional regulation, which are key components of resilience.

Examples:

  • Personal Life: When feeling anger rising during a heated argument with a family member, practice deep breathing (see breathing techniques article in our blog). For instance, take a moment to focus on your breath, inhaling deeply through the nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth. This can help you stay calm and respond more thoughtfully, rather than react impulsively.
  • Professional Life: If a colleague’s behavior irritates you, take a brief break and engage in a quick relaxation technique, such as progressive muscle relaxation. Sit quietly, tense and then relax each muscle group from head to toe. This can help dissipate the anger and allow you to address the issue with a clear mind.

2. Cognitive Reframing

Cognitive reframing involves changing the way you think about a situation to alter its emotional impact. By viewing a situation from a different, more positive perspective, you can reduce feelings of anger and build resilience against stressors.

Examples:

  • Personal Life: Suppose you’re angry because a friend canceled plans at the last minute. Instead of dwelling on the frustration, reframe the situation by considering that your friend might have had a genuine emergency. Use the unexpected free time for self-care or a hobby you enjoy, thus turning a negative experience into a positive one.
  • Professional Life: If a project at work isn’t progressing as planned and you’re feeling frustrated, reframe the situation by viewing it as a learning opportunity. Reflect on what isn’t working and how you can adapt your approach. This shift in perspective can reduce anger and increase your problem-solving resilience.

3. Effective Communication

 Communicating your feelings assertively, rather than aggressively, can help in managing anger constructively. By expressing your concerns calmly and clearly, you can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts, thereby fostering resilience in relationships.

Examples:

  • Personal Life: If you feel angry because your partner isn’t helping with household chores, address the issue with “I” statements to express your feelings without blaming. For example, say, “I feel overwhelmed when I have to handle all the chores alone. Can we come up with a fair division of tasks?” This approach can lead to a more cooperative and less confrontational conversation.
  • Professional Life: When a coworker repeatedly interrupts you during meetings, instead of reacting angrily, speak to them privately and assertively. You might say, “I notice that I often get interrupted during discussions. It’s important for me to complete my points. Can we work together to ensure everyone has a chance to speak?” This helps in maintaining professionalism and fostering a collaborative work environment.

By incorporating these strategies, individuals can manage their anger more effectively, which in turn strengthens their emotional resilience in both personal and professional aspects of life.

 

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