Did you know there are four different anger styles? Only one is constructive, while the others are destructive. Destructive to what you ask? Well, your WHOLE life! Outlook, health, relationships, you name it. Do you feel like you have a destructive style? I did. That all changed after my family started calling me out on it. Awkward… If you’re in the same boat I was in, the first thing you’ll need to do iiiiis:
The only way to make progress towards getting ahold of your anger is by figuring out which anger style you have and working from there. Below, we’ll take a look at the four styles and see which one you relate to most. Maybe you can relate a little to all of them–depending on the situation (like me).
The Four Anger Styles:
This anger style is completely impulsive and is based on the person reacting off of their emotions. Slamming doors, yelling, getting physical…basically all the things you’d see on reality TV.
Although this response seems totally valid when people or things make you THAT mad, this style NEVER has a good outcome. Even if breaking something in the heat of the moment is satisfying, it’ll only end up making you look foolish. Unfortunately, I’m speaking from experience. This style creates tension in relationships and makes the receiver of your anger feel like they’ve got to walk on eggshells even after things have cooled off.
A key to managing anger is to become self-aware. Pay attention to what happens to your body when someone annoys you and you feel your blood pressure rising. Being self-aware puts you in control. Nothing/no one can MAKE you mad. You have control over your anger and you’ve got to decide where you’re going to put the energy that comes from that emotion.
If the reactive style is your go-to, start practicing self-awareness throughout the day. I know it might sound weird, but if you make it a priority to be in tune with your emotions throughout the day every day, it’ll become natural and you’ll be far less likely to act impulsively. If you only practice self-awareness when you get angry, it’s not going to be AS effective because it won’t feel natural and you’ll probably end up feeling more frustrated.
When you recognize anger simmering inside you,
- Breathe Deeply
(Cliché, but it ACTUALLY HELPS) Even if you don’t count your breaths. Just close your eyes, if possible, and focus on breathing in through your nose and out of your mouth.
- Collect Your Thoughts
Take a minute to gather your thoughts, extinguish your emotions, and change your perspective to see the bigger picture. Does what you’re wigging out about really matter in the grand scheme of things? If so, think of how God may be using it to do something you may not see right now.
Could this situation actually be preparing you for something that is to come later in life? Or maybe something simple happened like, someone cut you off in traffic and now you’re steaming. Well, maybe God intervened and saved you from a car crash a mile down the road.
The more you intentionally try to improve your emotions and reactions, the easier it will become.
Gaaaaah. Sometimes I think I’d prefer for someone to have a full-blown Real Housewives-fit on me than be passive-aggressive. (Even though I’ve been guilty of it. Whoops).
So, the passive-aggressive style is basically acting like nothing is wrong, yet indirectly acting out towards the person you’re having an issue with.
This style includes behavior like:
- Throwing jabs or shade (usually through a sweet voice, surrounded by emojis, or saying, “It was just a joke! LOL” right after)
- The silent treatment
- A condescending tone
- Intentionally causing someone pain, stress, or discomfort
The games of going back and forth, giving hints, desiring attention etc. are exhausting for both parties and are a complete waste of time. Passive-aggressiveness just prolongs the issue at hand.
Side note: DO YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW MANY STEAK DINNERS I’VE MISSED OUT ON BECAUSE I DECIDED TO POUT FOR HOURS ABOUT SOMETHING AND RUIN DATE NIGHT?!
….Actually, you don’t want to know.
COMMUNICATE WITH THE PERSON YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH.
People that practice the passive-aggressive style don’t always have an issue communicating…usually, they just aren’t communicating with the right person.
Instead of venting about the problem to someone that’s not involved, talk to the person you have the problem with! It may be hard at first if you’re stubborn, like me, but how in the world is throwing shade or giving the silent treatment going to make the problem and the relationship any better?
If there’s truth behind that shade you so desperately you want to throw, you can share it in a gentle tone. IT IS POSSIBLE. Address the problem and let that person know how you feel so your relationship isn’t totally shaken.
Remember what I said about self-awareness in the reactive style? Yeah, it applies here, too.
Think before you speak. Are you trying to hurt the other person? Why?
This style is a little bit like the passive-aggressive style in the fact that they ACT like everything is fine. Instead of being subtly aggressive though, someone who practices this style can almost have you convinced that they are sincerely okay.
The avoidant style is particularly unhealthy because holding emotions inside is just building up resentment. This style can have serious effects on a person’s health, self-esteem, and can send their analyzing tendencies into overdrive; all of which can lead to depression, heart issues, and digestive problems.
Sometimes, people that practice this style NEVER get their feelings out in the open. How exhausting!
If this is you, (you already know what I’m about to say)…
That little phrase “communication is key” ain’t lyin’. You’ve got to talk about your feelings. Even if you didn’t grow up discussing your feelings, or it was modeled for you to sweep your emotions under the rug…break that unhealthy cycle and get it all out in the open.
If you have a history of being hurt by discussing your feelings and that’s why you bottle everything up, your health and relationships are suffering from it.
Have you ever seen the Mentos and Coke Challenge on YouTube? Okay, so imagine you’re the Coke bottle and the Mentos are the things/people causing you anger/grief/frustration. That’s what happens when you bottle your anger in. You keep holding it all in until you’ve finally exploded and now you’re leaning more towards the reactive/rage style. Yikes. AND, on top of that, everyone is confused because you had them convinced everything was fine.
How could all of this been avoided, I wonder.
COMMUNICATION. That’s how.
If you have this tendency to hold back and avoid confrontation, communicating like this might be a nightmarish thought for you, but it is so worth it! You’ll feel the weight lifted off of you once you talk about your emotions/anger/the issue at hand.
How can you expect to make progress or avoid running into the same problem down the road unless you TALK ABOUT IT?
The final and best style. Ahhh..finally, THE BIG FIX.
Being upfront about the issue that’s angered you is the healthiest way to go about dealing with your anger. No real shock there, right?
Technically, the reactive and passive-aggressive styles ~deal~ with anger, but in an unhealthy, aggressive way…while the avoidant style doesn’t deal with it at all.
Being direct doesn’t mean pouncing or firing off. It simply means being honest with your emotions. Sure, you may need a minute to cool off and get your thoughts in order (ahem, that self-awareness we talked about), but ultimately it means laying everything out on the table.
Have a reoccurring problem with someone? Address it.
Something is irritating you and you can feel your blood pressure rising? Figure out a reasonable solution.
Someone just smarted off to you? Think about how your reaction can be Christ-like.
Maybe someone displays an unhealthy anger style towards you and that’s why you’re angry. HOW IRONIC.
Instead of flying off the handle, spewing rude comments, or harboring resentment towards someone, this style is based on the one thing that all the other styles lack— self-awareness and effective communication.
You can’t always control how someone else will react or even if they’ll listen. The one thing you can control is your reaction to the situation that the anger stems from.
Make a commitment to yourself to start practicing the Directive Anger Style. (Emphasis on the word PRACTICE because it does take practice). You can do it, though. You’ll slip up no doubt because we’re imperfect, BUT apologize and keep moving forward. We all want our relationships to grow and get stronger, so we’ve got to do our part and put forth effort wholeheartedly.
How we express our anger and how we react to the situations that ignite it are the key factors in managing it.
What do you think?