Of all personality factors, hostility and anger have been most highly correlated with coronary heart disease and other physical and behavioral stress problems. In fact, a medium to high level of anger is the strongest behavioral predictor of early illness and death.

Anger is typically an attempt to control others to meet your needs. It often results from frustration, particularly when you do not get what you want or expect from life or others.

People can express anger either directly through “lashing out,” or indirectly through passive-aggressive behavior. People who are passive aggressive block and thwart others by such techniques as acting belligerent, pouting, not responding, or simply disappearing for periods of time when others need them. Both types of anger can have serious negative effects on one’s health and social relations.

6 Ways to Better Help With Anger

Flow With Fear Fear lurks behind anger. Most often, the fear stems from a feeling of lack of control of oneself or others. Conquering this fear begins with the process of learning how to flow with your fears.

When you feel that you are losing control of a situation, consciously recognize what your fear is and, if possible, allow yourself to flow with it. To flow means to accept your fear instead of fighting it. By acknowledging what you are afraid of, you’ll be able to reduce your anxiety.

Work on self-esteem Positive and healthy self-esteem is vital to controlling anger. You can improve your self-esteem by looking at your positive attributes rather than dwelling on your flaws.

Practice “letting go” A “letting go” attitude is the key to freeing yourself from excessive anger. Not always having to be in control is a valuable skill that our culture does not teach. Being able to “let go” is the best buffer against excessive anger. For example, when you become aware of your anger, say to yourself:

“I can let go and it’s okay. Letting go does not mean I’m out of control.”

“I can let go and still feel in control. Letting go makes me feel better, and that will make the situation better.”

“I don’t need anger to change this person or situation.”

“I am not an angry person.”

Remember, angry words or acts can never be taken back. Any harm that was done is not readily reversible; the effects may linger for years. By letting go, you will actually gain control — over yourself.

Be prepared Each time you show excessive anger, either outwardly toward others or inwardly toward yourself, write it down or make a mental note. Become aware of these circumstances and prepare yourself for future situations.

Avoid “should’s” If you set overly tight boundaries for yourself and others by constantly saying people or things “should” be something other than what they are, then you can expect more frustration and anger in your life. Engaging in what is called “shouldisms” is self-destructive and potentially harmful to your relationship with others. Here are some should’s to avoid:

“She should be more loving.”

“When I walk into a room office, people should immediately say hello to me.”

“When I assign jobs, she should complete it right away.”

“He should love his parents more. He should visit them more often.”

“He should show me more respect. After all, I’m his superior. I deserve it.”

Set realistic goals Promises and hopes rarely change behavior. If you do not succeed at reaching your goals, you can become frustrated and angry. Set realistic goals. Even if you are making only occasional or small strides, reassure yourself that you are making progress.