Anger is a normal, healthy emotion that every human experiences.
But sometimes, anger begins to dominate every experience and we begin to lash out at others–and that’s when it’s time to get help.
When anger reaches a dangerous extreme, we refer to it as rage.
Extreme anger or rage becomes difficult to control and it can be very destructive, often affecting your relationships, work, and state of mind.
When dealing with anger issues, it’s important to understand what you are trying to communicate and how you want to say it in a way that doesn’t hurt others.
Often, anger can be a cover for what we’re really feeling, such as deep hurt, sadness, or shame.
It can also be a symptom of underlying mental health problems, such as depression, trauma, or chronic stress.
In some families, expressing emotions is frowned upon, even healthy anger.
For people who grew up in that kind of environment, it’s crucial to learn how to express anger in a healthy way, instead of suppressing it.
Learning to control your anger and express it appropriately will help you maintain healthy relationships, achieve your goals, and lead a more satisfying and healthy life.
SIGNS OF ANGER MANAGEMENT PROBLEMS
Here are some telltale signs that your anger has reached an unhealthy level.
- If you have a hard time compromising or understanding how to get your point of view across.
- If you have trouble expressing emotions other than anger, or if you pride yourself on being “tough.”
- If you view different opinions as a personal challenge: For example, getting angry when you’re not right or when you feel like your values are under question.
BODILY SIGNS OF ANGER
- Knots in your stomach
- Clenching your hands or jaw
- Feeling clammy or flushed
- Shallow or fast breathing
- Heat in your belly, chest, or face
ANGER TRIGGERS AND NEGATIVE THOUGHT PATTERNS
- Overgeneralizing with words like “always,” “never,” and “everyone”
- Having rigid views and obsessing over how things “should” or “must” be when things don’t line up with your vision
- Mindreading and jumping to conclusions about what others are thinking and feeling
- Keeping a tally of wrongdoing and reaching the “final straw” after looking for little things to get upset about
- Letting small things build up without communicating and then exploding
- Overlooking anything positive and just focusing on all the negative things that have happened
- Blaming someone else when something happens rather than taking responsibility
ANGER MANAGEMENT TOOLS
Anger management takes time and practice. Some ways you can cool down include the following.
- Focusing on the physical sensations of anger and understanding where you feel it in your body
- Taking some deep, slow breaths to help counteract rising tension
- Exercising to release anger and rage
- Changing your focus to other senses like sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. For example, listening to music or picturing yourself in a favorite place.
- Stretching or massaging areas of tension
- Counting to ten slowly to let your rational mind focus on catching up with your feelings
- Giving yourself a reality check with questions such as:
- How important is it in the grand scheme of things?
- Is it really worth getting angry about it?
- Is it worth ruining the rest of your day?
- Is your response appropriate to the situation?
- Is there anything you can do about it?
- Is taking action worth your time?
HEALTHY WAYS TO EXPRESS YOUR ANGER
- Pinpoint what you’re really angry about rather than focusing on the superficial situation.
- Take a breather or “timeout” if things get too heated.
- Always fight fair by taking ownership of your feelings and interpretations without attacking others.
- Make the relationship your priority.
- Focus on the present.
- Use “I statements” and non-violent communication skills
- Choose your battles.
- Be willing to forgive.
The first step towards anger management is to recognize that you are getting angry.
You can do this by becoming aware of the physical effects that anger might have on your body, such as clenching your hands or rapid breathing.
After you recognize your anger, take a step back so that you are able to distinguish exactly what is making you fired up.
Use a “cooling” technique such as counting to ten, perhaps going for a walk, or even distracting yourself by doing another activity.
This will give you time to calm down and get your system out of fight or flight so you can begin to think about things in a more balanced and realistic way.
OUR ANGER MANAGEMENT THERAPY METHODS
If you feel like you’re not in control of your anger, and anger is controlling you, we encourage you to seek help.
Individual therapy provides a safe place to process real reasons and triggers behind your anger.
Often, our caregivers model expressing and processing all feelings through anger, and we’re not even aware of our deeper feelings.
Sometimes they taught us it wasn’t okay to feel angry at all–and that’s when we tend to suppress our anger until it explodes.
Still other times, we may find ourselves holding onto past resentments that we haven’t learned to heal and let go.
At My LA Therapy, we incorporate a variety of research-proven techniques to help you heal and gain control of your anger.
We’ll use CBT to challenge your irrational beliefs, somatic and experiential techniques to get in touch with and release anger in your body, and psychodynamic methods to get to the root causes and past experiences that may have contributed to latent anger.
Therapy can successfully improve your life by helping you identify and change underlying thought and behavioral patterns that contribute to your struggles, and provide you with strategies to decrease discomfort while restoring an overall sense of peace.
To experience true and lasting joy in our life, we must face and conquer our pain by healing our underlying trauma and confronting our fears.
WANT TO TALK? SPEAK WITH AN ANGER MANAGEMENT EXPERT NOW
If you have any questions, contact one of our anger management specialists for a free consultation any time.