Anger is often very prevalent in our lives, even though we may not initially recognize anger’s emotional patterns and how they exist in our daily activities. It’s helpful to identify what may precipitate anger, in order to help manage its strength.
Things that may contribute to feeling angry:
You may have had very little sleep, or no restful sleep.
Feelings of sadness, frustration, and/or overwhelming thoughts.
Trying to care for children, coupled with thoughts of failing as a parent, i.e. Will my child continue to disagree with me forever, how will they follow rules, hold a job, not live with me forever?!
Unanticipated changes in your daily routine.
The increasing price of everything on the planet.
Comparing yourself to others.
Baggage from the past that mixes with new baggage.
And a plethora of other things.
Thing is, life can get pretty frustrating at times and that’s certainly not going to change. Think of anger as a natural and healthy part of life. It holds the same value, as say happiness or joy and it’s temporary, just like fleeting moments of embarrassment. I think the key to understanding anger and gaining control over it, is to recognize that it’s not some kind of beast that swoops down and steals you from yourself, although that certainly may be what it feels like at times. Maybe it’s easier to think about what is making you happy than what’s upsetting you, but they are both important discoveries.
What to do with your anger:
One way to develop more structure and control over anger is to recognize that you don’t have to take orders from it. One of the things that separates this emotion from several other feelings is often times it doesn’t feel good to be angry. Your body, mind, and spirit are all effected in ways that feel disrupted. Like something hijacked your whole system. A tactic to help regulate this disruption is to remember the phrase, “Stop, think, and choose.”
Literally stop yourself in your tracks when you’re starting to feel a bit agitated. Why? Because have you ever tried to distract yourself by listening to music, paging through a magazine, or playing cards, when you’ve reached a “10” on the anger scale? For the most part your out of luck and will run the course of a tantrum of sorts. The idea is to catch yourself before the explosion happens. Stop, breath, Evaluate. Pay attention to what’s happening to your thoughts and your bodily physical reactions.
Side Note: Thoughts that can contribute to anger.
Nobody likes me.
People are trying to take advantage of me.
Life is always unfair, I’ll never catch a break.
Nobody wants to hear what I have to say.
Often times when we’re angry we can find ANYTHING to reinforce our angry thoughts further.
What are the consequences of my actions? Take time to breathe to help slow down your brain so you can actually think. Acknowledge what’s happening, so you’re not stuffing and avoiding feelings. Think about how you can shift gears. Maybe a change in environment is needed. The key here is to make every effort to slow down, so you can think and make positive choices.
Will my actions make the situation better or worse? What will make the situation better? When you choose a new approach, you are practicing and rewiring your brain to respond differently to anger. Focus on making non-reactive choices. Remember, the goal is to acknowledge anger and identify the thoughts and feelings that precede the anger to reduce its strength and intensity. Talking it out, obtaining some personal space, forgiveness, doing jumping jacks are all ways to express anger in a healthy way.
Additional important ways that can help you navigate and develop healthy anger:
Take care of yourself.
Remember that you can start your day over at any time, and as many times as needed.
Be kind to others.
Try and stay somewhat organized.
Ask for help.
Practice, practice, practice. It takes time and patience.
Andrea Picard, LCPC, ATR is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Andrea works with adults, families, teens, children, and moms/caregivers. Andrea’s specialties include art therapy, parent + child relationships, anger, addiction, and anxiety. If you’re interested in working with Andrea, send an email today!