Anger becomes a problem when it is felt too intensely, too frequently, or is expressed inappropriately. Feeling anger too intensely or frequently places extreme physical strain on the body. The inappropriate expression of anger initially has apparent payoffs (e.g., releasing tension, controlling people). In the long-term, however, these payoffs lead to negative consequences.
Myths about anger
The way people express anger is inherited and cannot be changed. Evidence from research studies, however, indicates that people are not born with set and specific ways of expressing anger. Studies show that the expression of anger islearned behavior and that more appropriate ways of expressing anger can be learned.
Anger automatically leads to aggression. There is a misconception that the only effective way to express anger is through aggression. There are more constructive and assertive ways to express anger. Effective anger management involves controlling the escalation of anger by learning assertiveness skills, changing negative and hostile "self-talk," challenging irrational beliefs, and employing a variety of behavioral strategies.
You must be aggressive to get what you want. Many people confuse assertiveness with aggression. The goal of aggression is to dominate, intimidate, harm, or injure another per-son—to win at any cost. Conversely, the goal of assertiveness is to express feelings of anger in a way that is respectful of other people. Expressing yourself in an assertive manner does not blame or threaten other people and minimizes the chance of emotional harm.
Venting anger is always desirable. There is a popular belief that the aggressive expression of anger, such as screaming or beating on pillows, was healthy. Research shows that people who vent their anger aggressively simply get better at being angry. In other words, venting anger in an aggressive manner reinforces aggressive behavior.
Anger is a habit
Anger can become a routine, familiar, and predictable response to a variety of situations. When anger is displayed frequently and aggressively, it can become a maladaptive habit. A habit, by definition, means performing behaviors automatically, over and over again, without thinking - it results in negative consequences.
Breaking the Anger Habit
To break the anger habit, you must develop an awareness of the events, circumstances, and behaviors of others that "trigger" your anger. This awareness also involves understanding the negative consequences that result from your anger. You need to develop strategies to effectively manage it. These strategies can be used to stop the escalation of anger before you lose control and experience negative consequences.
Source: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration