How many times do you feel angry but don't know why? How often do you become aggressive and say things you don't really mean, and then feel upset and guilty afterwards? Similar events happen to most of us, at some time, and we fail to understand the reasons.
Very often, the answer has to do with excessive pressure that has caused you stress, which has turned to anger as you realise that you appear to have lost control of the situation. Then you take that anger and frustration out on others around you. Sometimes that may be your family, or if at work, your colleagues.
Low self-esteem, in addition to stress, can also be at the heart of an angry outburst. You may not identify this factor and it is only when you start to suffer the consequences of that low self-worth that you may start to take a close look at the root cause within yourself.
Becoming angry is just one way that low self-esteem manifests itself in your behaviour. "Why me? It's not fair!" is a common angry outburst for those suffering from low self-esteem and a feeling of often being the victim in certain circumstances.
When we become angry, we become consumed with perceived injustice, and then we lose our focus on what really matters. At work, we may feel as if we are being picked-upon, and in our personal relationships we may see fault in others where none really exist. It is as if we are seeing life through a red haze — a haze that is, in fact, anger.
Defusing personal anger may need the help of a professional counsellor but, as it may not always be possible to have access to one, you can call upon a valued friend who is a good listener and who will enable you to talk through your anger, even if it entails some shouting or crying in frustration. Bringing out that which you feel into the open, is a powerful method of examining your mindset and your frustration.
Sometimes, of course, getting to the root cause of anger and exploring low self-esteem issues, requires time and patience. Low self-esteem often stems from childhood events at home or at school. Lack of praise and ridicule are common sources of low self-esteem, in childhood. Being able to put them into context and dealing with the anger that has built up over many years is essential.
Anger can be a dangerous and unacceptable emotion, especially in the workplace. It can lead to outbursts of rage that could end in violence, and if your behaviour really becomes disruptive and unacceptable, you can end up losing your job.
These are my favourite anger management tips:
- If you feel yourself starting to become angry and you want to shout at someone, make a conscious effort to walk away from the situation. If you then do some deep breathing exercises for at least five minutes, in a quiet place, you will feel your anger start to dissipate. You must then try to rationalise why you were so angry and then return to what you were doing beforehand.
- We all tend to think we are always right, even when we are demonstrably wrong! The solution is to give others a chance to express their opinions: to actively listen to what is being said and then to use rational discussion to examine the argument rather than becoming angry and shouting. I know that this is often easier said then done. It takes practice, but it works.
- In meetings, be conscious that raised voices can quickly lead to conflict. Keep your personal feelings under control — be aware of your body language — anger is easily transmitted through actions and facial expression, as well as actual words.
- Before any emotional outburst, count to ten and by the time you get there, you may have diffused the anger inside of yourself.
However, if there is a pattern of angry outbursts, for instance on a daily basis, then this may well be the time to seek professional medical advice as your body may have an imbalance that require tests to ascertain the cause. But do not ignore it.
The author is a BBC guest-broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee wellbeing consultancy based in London.
- Anger can derive from low self-esteem
- Diffusing anger may need a third party
- Our body language can be threatening