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What Is Anger? Everyone has been angry and knows what anger is.

Anger can vary widely (from mil d irritation to intense fury) and can be sparked by a variety of things (specifi c people, events, memories, or personal problems). Anger is a natural and potent ially productive emotion. However, anger can get out of control and become destr uctive and problematic.[1] So why do we get angry? People get angry when their expectations are not met -whether those expectations are about the future, about themselves, or about othe rs. When our expectations are unmet, we revert to illusions of control, "unreali stically expecting all people to behave and all situations to turn out as we thi nk they should."[2] Anger over these unmet expectations often leads us to blame others and shift aggression towards them. Gary Ginter, a psychologist who specializes in anger management explains that th ere are several sources of anger: physiological, cognitive, and behavioral.[3] P hysiological anger is natural anger. In certain threatening situations, for inst ance when we are attacked physically, our bodies respond by making us physically angry. Cognitive sources of anger are based on how we perceive things. These pe rceptions may be accurate...a situation may, indeed, be threatening, or they may not be. Sometimes we will perceive a threat, even th ough the external situation is not actually as dangerous as we think it is. In o ther words, there may be no real reason for anger, but our personal biases and e motions take over, leading to aggression. Finally, behavioral sources of anger c ome from the environment we create for ourselves. Chronically angry people creat e an atmosphere in which others are aggressive in return, creating a cycle of anger. Expressing Anger Additional insights into anger are offered by Beyond Intractability project part icipants. Anger is a natural response to certain threats. As a result, aggression is somet imes the appropriate response to anger, as it allows us to defend ourselves. The refore, a certain amount of anger is necessary. In addition, anger can be useful in expressing how we feel to others. However, we cannot get angry with everyone and everything we encounter. As a result, we must learn to express our anger ap propriately.[4] There are three main approaches to expressing anger -- expression, suppression, and calming. Expression involves conveying your feelings in an assertive, but no t aggressive, manner. This is the best way to handle your anger. However, you mu st make sure that you are respectful of others and are not being overly demandin g or pushy, as this will likely only produce aggression in return. Anger can also be repressed and redirected. Essentially, you want to stop thinki ng about the source of your anger and focus on something else that can be approa ched constructively. However, you must be careful when repressing angry feelings . Repressing anger with no constructive outlet can be dangerous and damaging, bo th physically and mentally. On the other hand, the old idea that you should simp ly "vent" or "let it all out" is discouraged by conflict experts, who claim that doing so is actually counterproductive, "an exercise in rehearsing the very att ributions that arouse anger in the first place."[5] Finally, one can respond to anger by focusing on calming down -- controlling you r external and internal responses (heart rate, blood pressure, etc.) to anger. T ake deep breaths and relax. Several of these techniques are covered later in thi s article.

Social Rage[6]

The same issues that can arouse anger in individuals can also arouse anger in la rge groups. This concept of social rage, or social anger, is an important one fo r understanding conflict. Social rage is similar to personal rage, but it is gen erated by social issues and expressed by social groups. Examples of social rage are abundant: anger at immigrants over unemployment, hate crimes, homophobia, et c. Many of the factors at play in personal rage are also important in social rag e, including humiliation and a sense of violation of expectations. When Is Anger Good? Anger can serve very positive functions when expressed properly. Studies continu e to show that anger can have beneficial effects on individuals' health, their r elationships and their work. Socially, very positive changes can come from anger -- for instance, the civil rights movement of the 1960s or the women's suffrage movement in the early 20th century. On an individual level, scientists have sho wn angry episodes actually strengthen personal relationships more than half of t he time. Social scientists agree that anger can be beneficial when it is expressed constr uctively. One way to ensure this is through the use of feedback loops. Construct ive anger expression involves both parties, not just the angry person. Ideally, the angry person expresses his or her anger and the target has a chance to respo nd. Oftentimes, simple expression helps to ease the situation, particularly if t he anger is justified. Remember that this is not simply an opportunity for someo ne to "vent." It must be approached with the attitude of solving a problem. Dealing with Anger/Anger Management As discussed, anger is not necessarily bad. Anger becomes problematic when it is expressed in improper or damaging ways. However, there are many things that can be done to help promote the constructive use of angry feelings. What Individuals Can Do: The first step in dealing with anger is to become aware of it. Learn how anger a ffects you, how you deal with it, and what triggers it in you. There are many wa ys to handle anger once you learn to recognize it and catch it early on. The Ame rican Psychological Association suggests the following:[7] Relaxation -- As simple as it sounds, basic relaxation exercises can be powerful tools in overcoming one's anger. Among these simple techniques are deep breathi ng; slowly repeating a relaxing phrase, such as "relax" or "take it easy"; using peaceful imagery to imagine a relaxing situation; and relaxing exercise, like y oga or tai-chi. Cognitive Restructuring -- Cognitive restructuring is basically changing the way you think about things. This involves thinking more positively about a situatio n; avoiding terms like "always" and "never," which can be used to justify your a nger; using logic on yourself to prevent irrational behavior; and learning to ch ange your approach -- requesting rather than demanding, for example. Problem Solving -- Not all anger is inappropriate. When there is a very real roo t to your anger, approaching the situation from the perspective of a problem sol ver can help to diffuse your strong feelings. Make a plan for how you can fix th e situation and approach it with good intentions. Better Communication -- Angry people tend to jump to conclusions and overreact. By slowing down and thinking about what you say, this problem can be avoided. Al so, make sure you understand what other people are saying before responding to t

hem. Listen to the reasons for others' anger and try not to be overly critical. Listening is as important to communication as speaking is. Using Humor -- By refusing to take yourself too seriously, you can defuse your a nger. Try using humorous imagery to lighten your mood or to make fun of yourself . However, you should avoid using sarcastic and harsh humor, which is simply ano ther expression of anger. You should also avoid simply "laughing off" your probl ems, which ignores the issue at hand. Instead use humor to approach the problem more constructively. Change Your Environment -- Oftentimes our environment contributes to our anger b y causing irritation and fury. Make a point to take a break. Schedule personal t ime. When stress becomes too intense, simply get away for 15 minutes to regroup and refresh.