Do you tend to overreact when you are angry?
Do you often regret what you say in the heat of the moment and find you’re constantly apologizing or defending your actions?
Are others around you often walking on eggshells due to your anger and behaviors when angry?
Do you tend to hold on to resentment? Can’t let go of a grudge?
Visible or invisible—you may have problems with anger management.
The Problem with Anger
Anger is a normal, human emotion. You’re allowed to be angry at times. But, behaviors that are displayed when you’re angry can complicate a lot of things—your relationships, your career, your physical and mental health.
Often, it’s the overwhelming demands and stressors of daily life, the pressure to succeed, a lack of support, and emotional needs that have not been satisfied that rob you of your sense of calm and peace. Rather, you’re led to a place of unrest, frustration, and resentment. And with every step, you’re slipping down the slippery slope toward losing control.
How do you regain your emotional regulation when you feel anger rising inside of you?
It isn’t always as simple as just taking a deep breath, or as easy as just ignoring the things that make you angry. It takes a lot of focus and skill to manage your anger. Trying to manage your anger by yourself, you may give up too soon and become even more frustrated and down on yourself.
However, anger doesn’t have to be your enemy. With the help of an experienced therapist, you can learn to recognize and express angry feelings in an appropriate way. You will be helped to peacefully deal with difficult people, observe and manage your own emotional triggers, calmly handle life’s adversities and emergencies, face and solve problems, and nourish meaningful relationships.
To some, anger management therapy may sound like overkill, but the skills you’ll acquire can improve your relationships with others, and help you flourish and live in peace and satisfaction.
How Anger Management Therapy Can Help You
1. Explore and understand your problems with anger
Basically, anger is supposed to function as a protection. Anger is often a secondary emotion to another primary emotion, such as fear or anxiety. Anger signals when you need to correct a situation and gives you the courage and strength to stand up for yourself and others. It tells you to say “enough” or “no” when your needs are not met or someone treats you badly. And it helps you understand your underlying needs and how to attend to them. Anger management therapy can help you see that you may be afraid of feeling weak if you let go of the power anger holds.
2. Recognize and identify external triggers
A therapist can help you become aware of your thoughts and feelings in the moment. You will learn to see what’s actually happening when you become angry, recognize the situation that triggers it, and identify the true issue. This can serve as your warning system for any future anger outbursts. It will also help you to be proactive in reducing stress, thus preventing problems with anger from spiraling out of control in the first place.
3. Learn self-soothing skills
As mentioned before, it’s not as simple as just taking a deep breath. However, deep breathing exercises are a start. There are many more things that can help you calm down when you feel your anger surfacing. You can listen to soothing music, write in a journal, go for a brisk walk, dance, or jump rope—anything that helps you burn off your frustration so that it doesn’t burn you up. Find support and talk to someone. Sharing your frustration and having someone validate the emotions you feel can be cleansing. But, not everybody is prepared to hear difficult feelings in a helpful way. That’s why a therapist is the ideal, objective person to help you find insight and develop skills to manage anger. They can also teach you other self-help techniques to soothe your emotions, like relaxation skills and positive self-talk.
4. Become aware of your thinking patterns
Problems with anger usually arise when you’re focusing on what another person should or shouldn’t be saying or doing and judging their behavior as bad. Anger can also come from incorrectly assigning meaning to and event, or what someone has said. Therapy can help you learn to collect your thoughts and pause before you react to any perceived wrong situation. By admitting that you are angry, you validate your feelings and that can help you feel more empowered to look for a better solution than venting them in unhelpful way.
5. Challenge negative or unrealistic thoughts
Remember, anger doesn’t fix anything, it usually just makes things worse. A therapist can help you look at your angry thoughts and resulting behaviors, sort out why you’re upset, and determine what you can do to change that. When you challenge your negative thoughts, you can begin seeing the lighter side of matters. It’s not always as bleak and dreadful as it may seem at first glance. Seeing the humor in situations and learning to laugh at yourself can give you a brighter outlook.
6. Find positive and achievable solutions
Anger management therapy can help you start looking at situations with much more balance. You’ll soon see that not everyone behaves exactly the way you want them to all the time. Instead of focusing on what made you angry, you will work to find resolutions in your relationships with others, and with yourself. You can learn to take up a different perspective and with empathy, put yourself in the other person’s place. See them for what they are—human—and understand the unique challenges they may be facing. Empathy can do much to neutralize problems with anger.
7. Gain confidence and communication skills
Most of all, therapy can help you to communicate your feelings in an assertive way without becoming defensive or hostile. That’s not always easy when you’re angry, but you can learn it. Expressing yourself clearly, calmly, and respectfully is a valuable skill for any situation. So is active listening and building trust. All skills your therapist can help you learn.
In general, anger management therapy can help you feel confident, connected, and calm instead of frustrated, agitated, and angry. Why not consider entering therapy today?
Janie McMahan, MA, LMFT, is a therapist in Austin, Texas. She works with individuals and couples on a variety of issues including managing and regulating strong emotions. Call her at 512-739-2494 for scheduling.