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Anger is a basic human emotion that serves an important survival function by communicating to ourselves and to others that something is wrong.

Because we learn how to express anger, we also can learn how to manage it. This is particularly important for anyone who handles anger inappropriately – by hurting others or themselves or by making poor decisions in fits of rage.

Instead of expressing your anger in either of these ways, try this four-step approach to handle anger:

Admit it.
The next time you feel angry, admit it to yourself. Don’t deny feeling angry or try to cover it up.

Explore it.
Get to the source of the emotion. If it’s something someone said to you, ask yourself why it made you angry. If it’s something someone did, or didn’t do, search for the reason you’re angry.

Express it.
If you believe you might express yourself in a hostile rage, find a way to calm yourself down first; take a few deep breaths or go for a walk. When you feel you can discuss the issue without exploding, do so. If your anger begins to build while you’re expressing yourself, calm yourself down again.

Drop it.
The final step may be the hardest. It’s also the most important. Once you’ve let the object of your anger know how you feel, drop it. Whether the object of your anger changes or not, you’ve done all you could by expressing your anger in a healthy way.