Is An Angry Reaction A Choice?

by Dr. Karen Ruskin on August 30, 2013

Can a person choose to not have an angry reaction although experiencing the feeling of anger? Yes. Is an angry reaction a choice? Yes. Is anger bad? No, anger in and of itself is not bad. It is how we respond and react to our feelings of anger in terms of our own self talk and in our interactions with others that offers a good or bad outcome. Specifically, it is the mismanagement of anger and rage that is a major cause of conflict in one’s professional and personal relationships, not the actual feeling of anger.

When working with clients with anger issues one key theme I explain to them is that although they may be feeling an anger level of ’10’ (on a scale of 0-10), they can choose to have an angry reaction of ‘0’. It is that choice in and of itself that is a significant piece of the puzzle in anger management, it is that very decision to be in control of one’s reactive impulse that is of great importance if you desire to manage your anger effectively.

There is a fine line between violent words and the crossing over that very line to violent physical actions. Emotional hurt of another with one’s anger response painfully too often escalates to physical hurt of another with one’s anger. The choice to be mindful of one’s anger triggers, the choice to be mindful of one’s reaction to those triggers (i.e., with one’s words, one’s body language, one’s physicality) – it is just that – a choice. Each moment of each day we have a choice for how we choose to react to our life’s frustrations. What’s it going to be for you?

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