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Managing anger

Anger is a basic human emotion and feeling angry is OK. It is how we respond to and express that anger that can cause problems.

Expressing anger in an abusive, violent or negative way is unacceptable. Rather than trying to suppress the anger, we need to learn how to manage it in a way that acknowledges the feeling while not harming anyone else.

  1. Do you sometimes have trouble controlling your temper?
  2. Have you ever become angry and regretted it later?
  3. Have you ever lost control of your anger to the point where you became violent or abusive?
  4. Has anyone ever commented on your anger? 

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions, here are some initial ideas to help take the strength out of anger.

Calling MensLine Australia to talk can be good place to start. We can provide you with specialised tools and information for you and your situation.

Recognising the warning signs

In order to control your anger, you first need to be able to recognise the signs that you are getting angry:

  • Muscular tightening, especially around the jaw and arms
  • A sensation of building pressure in the head
  • Sensations of heat and flushing in the face
  • Elevated heart rate, breathing or sweating 

These physical signs are all indications that your body is preparing for ‘fight or flight’, our primitive response to threat. Once you recognise that you are getting angry, you have the opportunity to do something to diffuse the situation before it gets out of control. Here are some techniques you can try.

Time Out

Stepping away from a situation when you are starting to feel angry gives you space to think clearly and calm down. If things are starting to get heated, try saying to the other person something like, ‘Listen, I think I need to take a break for a bit. I’ll come back and we can sort this out in half an hour’.

Controlled breathing

Slowing and deepening your breath can help diffuse the anger. Try taking five long, slow breaths. Focus on relaxing the muscles in your arms and face.

Talk yourself down not up

Self-talk has the ability to influence whether you get more or less angry in an exchange.

Saying things to yourself like, ‘This person is an idiot!’ or ‘How dare she talk to me like that?’ is likely to increase your feelings of anger. Instead, try calming self-statements such as: 
  • ‘Cool it. You can handle this.’
  • ‘No point flying off the handle. Let’s just take a few breaths.’
  • ‘I’m not going to let this get to me.’
  • ‘Relax…’ 

Skills to avoid getting angry in the first place 

While these anger management techniques can help you calm down in a crisis, they don’t address the causes of excessive anger. Conflict is inevitable in relationships, but this doesn’t mean that every disagreement needs to lead to an angry fight.


Anger can be the result of built up, unresolved distress, or it may be masking underlying emotions such as sadness. Learning relaxation skills can help you release the physical tension in the body which can contribute to anger problems.

Changing beliefs that contribute to anger

Some anger problems are related to underlying belief systems about how the world ‘should’ be. If you have a belief that the world should conform to your expectations, you may experience a lot of frustration and anger when it doesn’t.

Seek help if you need it

MensLine Australia offers a range of free, professional counselling services for men. Give us a call today, or register for free online or video counselling.

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Copyright © MensLine Australia 2011 

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Comment bubbleUser comments

08-Jan-14 03:50 PM
Comment posted by: Suzanne Higgins
Great information. I was looking for information for a male partner of a woman I am working with (Perinatal Mental Health Service). Will try to get her partner to access Mensline Help. Thank you
07-Jan-14 09:26 AM
Comment posted by: Dan
One of my clients used your service before reaching out to seek face to face counselling. At a turning point in their life, a time where they found themselves in crisis, they found great comfort and support from you. Thank you for making your important service available.

Dan -
15-Apr-13 07:32 PM
Comment posted by: Brett
I've been very abusive lately I really hope this helps
06-Apr-13 08:35 PM
Comment posted by: Amanda
My dad has an anger problem. But won't listen when we try to encourage him to get help. It just enrages him more.
04-Apr-13 11:20 AM
Comment posted by: Jason Kay
I found this very helpful. I'm currently in crisis at the moment and it was great to look online and find helpful advice, IMMEDIATELY!!! Thanks so much. i've booked a call to be made to me.
13-Feb-13 09:07 AM
Comment posted by: Rai
This helped me sooooooooooooo much. It's helped me to be a better person
01-Feb-13 12:28 PM
Comment posted by: Yankee Bob
For some of us who come from families where alcohol / addiction anger is a major challenge.

You may benefit by going to Al Anon, and learn the tools they teach on anger.
11-Jan-13 11:56 PM
Comment posted by: Anita
Please please- help. My husband- I know beneath the anger and emotional abuse is the beautiful man I married but he has never had any male role models in his life(his parents divorced)-and sadly he always turns 2 advice with his mother who has failed at 2 marriages and has a lot of problems herself.-I have been told I am passive aggressive and am working on my probs_which I admit affects his anger and I am working on this but the only hope left is for the Anger to stop- I have bent every way I know how to help this man and now after 16yrs I am broken.....if it can't be fixed I am ready to walk
08-Jan-13 08:28 PM
Comment posted by: Joe
Liked what I have read so far.will now write down my areas I want to better understand and manage,then to to one of your people.
Thank you
05-Jan-13 11:50 PM
Comment posted by: Dom
Thankyou I found this useful
29-Dec-12 08:03 PM
Comment posted by: Jack
I wish I could control it, but I don't think it's possible..
27-Dec-12 11:26 AM
Comment posted by: Trask
this was interesting i have downloaded ur PDF file and will read it and may calll you
25-Nov-12 04:41 PM
Comment posted by: Derek. C
Step away the situation whenever the anger came from you or the others. Concentrate on how to solve the problem not the anger.
25-Oct-12 04:19 PM
Comment posted by: Steve
I have significant issues with controling my anger which manifests in shouting and becoming verablly abusive, generally towards my wife. It is/has destroyed my relationship and I feel in an almost constant aggressive state. I never was like this but after 10 + years in the middle of my wife and ex-wife and now with my 17yo son living with us for the past year, causing further blended family issues, here I am.
18-Oct-12 01:27 AM
Comment posted by: Brent
Thanks for the info I wish I read it before I left for work today I shouldn't let customers anger me so much but it's hard when there yelling 2 cm away from my face
14-Oct-12 07:31 AM
Comment posted by: Jay
I wish i did something about my anger before my family breakdown this info will help me manage my anger for the future.
05-Oct-12 12:07 AM
Comment posted by: joel
I was amazed upon visiting here as the articles are all very informative.
My congratulations to the people behind the success of this website.
You really rock guys! Keep up the good works!
04-Oct-12 10:56 AM
Comment posted by: Jack
As a crisis worker, i am often under pressure to perform. I know all of this common sense advice - but i have begun to forget to follow it myself! Thankyou for these tips. And reiterating to me what it is i am at pains to instill in others.
30-Jan-12 04:43 PM
Comment posted by: derek
a door closed,now i am trapped and see the pain everyday
30-Dec-11 12:54 AM
Comment posted by: aaron
I have an anger problem but I found good tips on here
04-Nov-11 04:05 PM
Comment posted by: Roll
I have this problem
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