Anger is a normal human emotion, and anger management isn’t about getting rid of anger. It’s about expressing it a healthy and effective manner. If you have problems controlling your temper, are told that you are a hothead, or have lost jobs or relationships due to your anger, this blog is for you.
Anger can also take on various forms. Some people are irritable and angry most of the time. Others stuff things down for a long time and then eventually explode. Often times what that person explodes over is minor, yet it is the straw that broke the camels back. Some get angry when they drink. Others explode, get over it quickly and don’t understand why others are still upset.
There are people who will say that they don’t get angry very often, but when they do, watch out. Some may minimize this type of anger, yet this is even more destructive. The reason being is that the other person or people don’t know when the next episode of anger will be, so they walk on eggshells. At least others know what to expect if someone is always angry.
According to the American Psychological Association, in addition to harming the relationships of those you love; anger can also have adverse effects on your physical health, such as an increased risk of heart disease, insomnia, digestive issues and headaches.
Tips to keep your anger under control
Be aware of how your body responds to anger
When we get angry our body gives us some warning signs. The next time you get angry, just sit with it. Notice where you feel the anger in your body. What thoughts are going through your head? Are you doing anything when you start getting angry? Perhaps you start pacing, tell yourself things to justify your anger, make assumptions that may not be true, clench your fists, or feel tension in some part of your body. Becoming aware of these cues can help you nip your anger in the bud. Many people say that when it comes to their anger that they go from 0-60 mph in no time flat. Paying attention to your cues can help you slow that down, so you can have a better chance of responding appropriately. ‘
Be aware of situations that make you angry
The obvious response is to try to avoid those situations. Does driving in traffic get your goat? If so, what can you do? You can’t make traffic move, you can only change how you respond to it. Perhaps this is a time to do some deep breathing, or listen to audio books. Maybe you can catch up with a friend or family member on the phone. If being around certain people riles you up, perhaps you can avoid them. If you will be at a family gathering with someone you don’t care for, try to stick around those you like and minimize the interactions with people you don’t.
Don’t respond when you are angry
Never respond to an e-mail or text when you are angry. Nine times out of 10 you will regret what you said. It’s also so easy to misinterpret a text or an email as there is no tone attached to it. Don’t rehash the same situation over and over again. This will only feed your anger. Remember, whatever you feed is what you grow. If you feed anger and resentment that is what you will be left with. If you feed yourself with gratitude, remind yourself the good things about the other person, and recognize they have a valid point of view too, you will begin to move past your anger.
Restructure your thoughts
Its easy to tell yourself whatever it is you believe to justify your anger. Remember there are many ways to view a situation. If you make assumptions, you may be wrong. Try not to blow things out of proportions and catastrophize. Things usually work out. Have faith that this situation will too. Don’t use the words never or always when you are upset. They are rarely true.
What will help you calm down when you are angry? Everyone is different. Would it help to go for a run, call a friend, exercise, take a hot/cold shower, read, listen to calming music, meditate, or do yoga? It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it works for you. Come up with a game plan, so you will know what to do when the time comes.
Template to express your feelings
You always want to start with an ‘I’ statement, and express your feelings. When you start with the word ‘I’, you are taking ownership of your feelings. If you start with ‘you’, you automatically put the other person on the defensive. If you start with ‘I’, it disarms the other person and they will be in a better place emotionally to hear you. Then state what you wish to happen. The template looks like this: I feel _______, when you _______. Then ask for what you’d like. Behind every complaint is a need that is not met. Here is an example: I felt worried, when you said you’d be home at 8:00 and didn’t get home until 10:00. I just needed to know that you were safe.
If anger is something you struggle with and need a little extra help, give me a call at 713-304-6554.
Debbie Grammas, PhD