Chapter 5 – How to Take Control of Your Emotion and Deal with Anger
To take control of your anger, you need to understand the cause and result of anger. People, situations (such as missing a promotion or getting cut off in traffic jam ) and circumstances ( such as marriage separation or struggling with finances) are the most typical causes of anger. Of the three main causes, people are the main culprits. Family members, partners, children, and other intimate relationships are the main sources of anger. Considering that the people involved in these relationships are very close to a person, it is easy to question why rage gets vented at them. Basically, it is because these relationships are permanent and secure therefore we feel safe to expose our real feelings and emotions.
Steps to take
If you feel that your anger is starting to take a grip on you, there are some steps you can take.
First, your chances of controlling anger are higher if you catch it early enough. When you find yourself in a potential anger triggering situation, emotionally distance yourself from it for a while. Concentrate on the deep breathing exercise. Practice other anger management techniques that might help you handle the situation soberly. Once the anger has subdued, you may continue with the conversation or handling the situation. If the anger keeps getting out of control, give yourself more time – walk away and calm down.
Secondly, look within your heart.
As mentioned earlier, anger tends to stem from deeply rooted things. Sometimes our anger is not caused by the current situation, rather, it stems from other things of the past such as childhood abuse. For men, anger may arise from feeling like a failure. If you are unable to deal with feelings of loss, inadequacy, and insecurity in a productive and positive way, y0ou may release these emotions in the best way you know-how. Basically, this release involves unleashing anger on someone else and blaming them for the current situation. Typically, a loved one is the victim. This expression of feelings may come off as controlling. To deal with such feelings, tell yourself that dominating others doesn’t amount to power rather, acknowledging difficult emotions and dealing with them in a respectful way. Remember that regardless of how a person is winding you up, the choice of how you react Is absolutely yours.
Thirdly, switch your focus
When you concentrate on the situation that is angering you, it becomes harder to stay in control. Instead of focusing on the situation, pay attention to the physical sensations occurring in your body. The most common responses to feelings of anger include headaches, rapid breathing, clenched jaws or fists, and tensed muscles. According to psychotherapists, concentrating on physical sensations rather than the emotional pressure will help you to control your anger. Once you have taken note of these physical sensations, focus on easing them. Go for a walk or do some physical exercise which will help you get rid of the pent up energy. Relax the tensed muscles by gently massaging the affected areas such as the neck or shoulders. Visualization can also help you switch your focus – imagine yourself in a calm and happy place.
Fourthly, lighten the mood.
When you use humor appropriately, it will help to diffuse anger. A lighter mood will help you deal with issues more constructively. For instance, if your boss is yelling at you because of a particular thing, imagine him/her as a funny cartoon character dancing. Draw a picture of him/her if it helps. If this practice can help you diffuse anger and think more constructively, then use it often. However, ensure that you do not use the humor in a sadistic way – Mood lightening should not be used to bring other people down. The reason for using humor as an anger management technique is to stop taking yourself and others too seriously.
Anger is a most present pressing and somehow painful force in our lives. Even though we as men are not allowed to display our emotions every now and then, they drive us day today. Emotions make us take new chances. We are excited because of the new and possible prospects. We make sacrifices for love and cry when we are hurt. Without a doubt, our thoughts, emotions, intentions, and actions are interconnected and with the authority of rational minds, we are able to make valid choices. However, when we act on negative emotions too quickly, we often make decisions which we later regret.
Our emotions and feelings can switch between dangerous extremities. Stagger too far on one side and you are on the verge of rage. Steer too far in the other direction and you will border the state of euphoria. As with many other things in life, emotions are best dealt with logically and moderately. Everything in excess is poisonous. Honestly speaking, it can be hard to control feelings of joy. After receiving great news, it can be hard to not feel too joyous and jump of joy. It is also okay to fall in love. These are the good things in life and we can celebrate them. What we should really aim to control our negative emotions. These must be handled with extra care.
Negative emotions like anger and rage tend to spin out of control very fast especially immediately after they have been activated. Gradually, these emotions can grow like undesirable weeds and gradually condition the mind function on them. Anger and other negative feelings can dominate daily life and become detrimental. The worst part is that these feelings feed on themselves. One angry thought normally leads to another. Ever realized that a hostile person seems to be in an angry trigger happy state at all times? Well, they were not born like that. This anger is just a habit they took up and allowed to grow. When negative emotions stir in us for too long, they become inbred, rising all too often.
So, how can we master anger when it arises in the harshest of circumstances? How can we avoid operating on the negative types of feelings? Below are some steps you may follow to control anger and reestablish rationality in a challenging situation.
a. Do not react right away.
In a challenging moment (for instance when a situation is triggering anger) our first thought is to act immediately. In fact, emotions are so fast that they hinder us from having rational thoughts before acting. It is guaranteed that a moment of anger can make you say or do things you will later regret. To avoid reacting an a regrettable way, it is important to not react immediately. Before countering the trigger, with an argument based only on emotions and irrational thoughts, take a deep breath, relax and stabilize the impulse. Continue to take deep breaths for a while, and use the muscle relaxation techniques to release some of the tension clouding your judgment. Feel your heart rate as it goes back to normal. As you become calmer, remind yourself that the situation is only temporally, think clearly, then speak up.
b. Ask for divine intervention.
Regardless of the creed, we believe in, faith is our saving grace. It helps us in the darkest moments. As such, developing a healthy and strong relationship with a divine world of your choice can help you overcome obstacles more easily. This is because; having a divine connection will help you to stay in control. Believing in a bigger power will help you to seek for guidance. Divine intervention will show you what to do in moments of anger. When burdened with a hard situation, close your eyes and envision a positive solution given to you through divine intervention. Ask the divine power to show you how to go about your problem.
c. Find a healthy outlet
Once you have gotten control of your anger, – you no longer act out thoughtlessly, you will need to identify a healthy way of letting it go. Emotions and more so anger should never be suppressed. Bottling anger up only builds on the pressure in our lives and might lead us into depression. So, to deal with this anger, share what happened with someone you trust. Ensure that the person you are telling will not rub salt to the injury. Having an opinion from another person can help you to look at things more clearly. Your awareness becomes more broadened.
You may also keep a journal where you express your feelings. Some people find it helpful to engage in aggressive exercises, for instance, martial arts and kickboxing. Although it is not always advisable to use aggression to let go of anger, sometimes this form of expression may help. However, one has t do it with moderation. Other people find it more helpful to engage in chanting and meditation to return to a state of tranquility. Do whatever exercise that takes your mind off the anger and any other pent up sentiments. Everything you do needs moderation.
d. See the bigger picture
Everything that happens in our lives serves a higher purpose. It does not matter whether the situation is good or bad, there is a reason. Wisdom is the ability to see beyond the current situation. It is the ability to get a greater meaning in any given situation. Sometimes you may just imagine a positive result. For instance, you may imagine that the driver who cut you off o the freeway just protected you from an accident that was brewing ahead. You may not really understand what is happening at the beginning of the situation but as time goes by, everything will fit perfectly in the bigger picture. It can be hard to see a bigger picture in the midst of intense emotions but trust that there is an ultimate purpose which will be revealed in time.
e. Replace your thoughts
Our thoughts determine our actions. Negative emotions will lead us to more negative thoughts and actions. This creates a cycle of downright negative thoughts patterns. Whenever a negative thought seems to consume your brain, push it out and select another positive thing to think about. Imagine the best-fitted solution to your problem playing out perfectly in your head. Think about a thing or person that makes you happy and inspired and let it overrun the negative thought.
f. Forgive your triggers.
There are people or events that trigger your emotions. A trigger of your anger may be a parent, best friend, work colleague, spouse, yourself, or a group of people. You may feel a strong wave of anger when a person does ‘that thing’ you hate so much. Forgive him or her. You may feel angry when you remember something that you did, probably costing you an opportunity – forgive yourself. This forgiveness should come with a detachment. Detach yourself from the fury, jealousy or resentment receding within you. Negative emotions cohabit. You will find that anger goes hand in hand with resentment and anxiety. Letting go of one negative emotion will help you to release the others. Allow people to be themselves without getting emotional. If someone behaves like a pain, let them be, without allowing their behavior to disturb your peace. You do not have to have escalated negative emotions every time. As you forgive, it becomes easier to disassociate from harsh feelings.
A constant reminder of our nature, emotions surge through our bodies every second of the day. Sadly, we often take negative actions when experiencing anger. It is time we restrain wrong feelings from filtering through our minds. To avoid the pain of acting out during an emotional uproar, take some simple steps to tame your heightened anger and calm your uneasy mind. Once you look at the moment after it has passed, you will be more grateful that you can master your emotions.
Chapter 6 – Don’t Hold Grudges
Being hurt by someone can cause sadness, confusion, and anger. These feelings are more intense If the person who hurt us is a loved one. Relationships can suffer when a person has trouble forgiving the other, especially in close relationships. Dwelling on the thing that causes you to hurt will only lead to anger. Holding a grudge and being unable to solve the problem causes anger and many angry people have trouble forging those who wronged them. They use the grudge to justify their anger feelings and unfair behavior. Instead of letting go, they continue to re-experience the pain, frustration, and resentment.
Human beings are a very unique and self-preserving species whereby, once a person has been wronged, he/she wants the offender to acknowledge the deed. If the offender fails to own the mistake, we tend to get angry and want the world to know. In fact, we want the party to pay for their wrong actions. This continuous dwelling on the wrong deeds done against us fuels anger. So, is wanting to make other people accountable for their actions a bad thing? Partially, yes. To put it simply, the need to make a person pay for his/her mistakes leads to a grudge. And the more you want revenge, the more the anger arises.
The reason for holding a grudge may seem worth and valid to you. Truthfully, you were extremely upset and the offensive person deserves to feel some wrath. How could that person make you feel so bad? It is in our nature to want revenge. But is the wrongdoer or his/her actions really worth destroying your own health? Mahatma Gandhi once said that forgiveness is a character for the strong. Everyone needs a lot of courage to move on from a hurtful experience inflicted on you by another person. But if you let go of all that grudge and anger, you will be bettering your life and health. Forgiveness will make your life happier in many ways. Some of the reasons why it is better to let go of grudges include:
1. Holding onto grudges could harm your heart
According to research conducted and published by the American Heart Association, high levels of anger may increase your risk of getting coronary heart disease, more so in older men. Even after adjusting for other risky behaviors such as cigarette smoking, anger increases the risk of heart diseases. Bottling up anger due to grudges will take a serious till on the physical health. Another report conducted by Men’s Health in 2013 SUGGESTS That repressing feelings of anger can lead to high blood pressure.
2. Showing rage will make an impression on children
Young children normally mold their behavior according to their environment, and this is more evident when it comes to anger and hostility. Now, unless you want to raise angry children, it is better for you to keep off anger. According to research published in the Cognitive Development Journal, babies can not only sense danger in their environment, but they also learn to adjust to it very fast. What makes the matter more interesting is that children have a long memory yet their brains cannot rationalize emotions. The study found that toddlers had the ability to classify people prone to anger according to previous anger outbursts.
3. Even a short episode of anger can cause negative health implications.
Holding onto anger can easily threaten your wellbeing but we should also note that short term anger could also anger you. According to a research conducted by Harvard School of Public Health, a subject is five times more likely to have a heart attack and three times the risk of a stroke in the two hours following an outburst of anger.
4. It messes with your mental health.
Situations leading to an upset have a way of putting the real state of our minds at stake. This stalling leads us into a spiral of thoughts that affect our mental health. Anger has a strange way of increasing stress and anxiety. According to psychologists, holding onto these negative emotions can turn into something more dangerous.
In the times of our ancestors, anger helped people to stand their ground and fight. However, in today’s technologically complex world, anger more of a hindrance than a help. The level of anger affects the clarity of thought. The angrier you are, the less likely you are to think. Consequently, your negotiation skills lower, your ability to take a different perspective is affected thus you have a harder time handling a provocation.
5. Anger has been linked to type 2 diabetes
According to information published by the National Institute of Health, anger potentially leads to diabetes through unhealthy practices. While there is no direct connection between temperament and immediate diabetes risk, there are some studies and findings worth noting. In the study conducted by the National Institute of health, the people with the highest levels of anger also had 34 percent increased of getting diabetes 2 unlike those with lower anger levels. Basically, people with chronic anger are more likely to take higher levels of calories and to smoke and these two factors could lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.
6. Holding onto grudges can cause stress
It is already very difficult to actually live through a hard time/ trying situation but letting go of the difficult things maybe even leading to further damage. Anger and bitterness can lead to increased heart rate and higher levels of stress. The cure – forgiveness. Researches have revealed that pardoning others can create lower physiological stress responses. It is also important to forgive yourself.
7. Letting go of a grudge will help you to rise
Turns out, holding onto grudges and anger will continuously weigh you down emotionally, mentally as well as physically. In an experiment conducted and published in the journal of social psychosocial and personality science, people who choose to forgive tend to jump higher than those who held grudges. The burden of anger is normally more than just a physical thing.
8. It will help you to sleep better
Everyone wants to get more restful sleep rather than tossing and turning around in bed for seemingly endless hours. According to a study conducted in 205 on better sleep, subjects were found to have better sleep and quality rest when they let go of the resentment.
9. Forgiveness will help you strengthen your social bonds
Letting go of anger and resentment will also improve your relationships. As we all know, having healthy relationships is very important for a good life. Having this in mind, part of forgiveness is asking for it and also letting go. Asking for forgiveness normally requires a degree of modesty. That sense of humility will without a doubt make your relationships stronger. Researches also indicate that forgiveness will help the two parties to refocus on their goals and create a deeper bond of love.
The way to freedom from anger or grudges is not only through the forgiveness of the other person but also through loving your own self. We need to bring our own caring and loving self to the situation that crystalized into a grudge and anger. The pain caused by others will only be melted by our own decision to stay positive. That is the only way we can move forward. Sometimes it can be hard to move from our current state of holding grudges, therefore, we need to ask for help from our loved ones. The idea of letting go off the grudge is to deal with the pain without re-traumatizing self. We need to give ourselves the compassion we are looking for through holding grudges. Bring your own self-love to the center of the storm. Our hearts hold pain, but they also hold the cure to the pain.
To let go of the grudge, you need to move your focus from the wrongdoer, away from the sad story and suffering and into the fact that we lived through it. When you shift your attention from the pain in your heart to the lesson learned and the strength acquired from living through the storm, it becomes easier to look at the wrongdoing as a story. It stops being too personal – you learn how to let go.
In changing our attention span from the wrongdoing, we find that soothing compassion that the grudge needed to heal. Additionally, we should take responsibility for caring and healing our own sufferings, and for understanding that our happiness matters more than our sufferings. Happiness can never be achieved through holding grudges and losing tempers no matter how fiercely we believe in revenge. Forgiveness is the only way to right the wrong we feel so strongly. Once we let go of the need to hold grudges, it becomes easy to drop away anger even without realizing it. What becomes clearer is, we are complete in our own hearts.
How to let go
One interesting thing that makes us want to hold grudges is that it feels like a sweater or blanket – covering our weaknesses and keeping us warm. And getting rid of it leaves us feeling naked. We can all agree that forgiveness sometimes feels like a weakness. The challenge is, that grudge is more of a worn-out piece of cloth which only irritates us. In fact, a grudge becomes so strong that it develops a life of its own. However, the lightness and relief accompanying forgiveness are amazing.
It could be the uncaring Parent, the unfaithful partner, the ex-best friend who hurt you, the criminal who abused you, the workplace bully or any other person. You have every reason to hold grudges against the person but now what?
After betrayals like infidelity, or physical abuse by a bully, the urge to protect oneself from further pain or hurt becomes basic. That kind of hurt makes us recognize that we are vulnerable, hurt and most probably out of power. That vulnerability is what we try to avoid from that moment onwards. It is okay to avoid that position where we got hurt. Consequently, we hang onto that hurt and keep it as a bargaining chip. For instance, you may tell your spouse “Do not even try to complain about me yet you can remember —”
Continuing to keep your loved ones at a distance just because of suspicions and mistrust will prevent you from achieving a deeper and more satisfying relationship. Holding a grudge will make you not to forgive even when the wrongdoer apologizes and changes his/her behaviors actively.
Sometimes, we never get to receive the apology we expected from the wrongdoer. In fact, the person who wronged us might never show even a drop of remorse for what they did. This forms scar tissue in us. We eventually want to hold out the fact that someone offended us so that the world can see and sympathize with our aches. We seek understanding and caring from others in an effort to heal from what we did not get an apology for. Instead of becoming stronger, we become sentimental- more about “I was wronged therefore I deserve to be pitied.”
Grudges and anger have a corrosive effect on your physical and emotional health. Being angry all the time keeps you stuck in the fight or flight mode. Lack of forgiveness keeps you in the same anger position for a long time. The hormones released in the body during this state can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure. And all the other untrusting and negative mentality will spill into and affect other relationships.
The basic steps for letting a grudge go
Grudges take time to root and grow therefore letting go is also a process. Some of the steps one may follow to let go of grudges include;
– Acknowledge the hurt- It is true that you were wronged. In fact, you have every right to feel hurt. Describing the events that lead to your hurt and how you actually felt can help you get a better understanding of your situation. You may write it in a journal or a letter to yourself. Tell the truth in that writing will help you to heal. You may also imagine the wrongdoer seated in a chair and tell them exactly how you feel. Also, give yourself credit for all the steps you took to get where you have gotten.
– Decide to forgive – Forgiving a person who has hurt you is a reward to yourself. Notre that forgiving the offender does not mean that you have forgotten the deed. In fact, it does not mean that you should entertain further offenses from people. Forgive the wrongdoers and take the necessary steps to protect yourself. Deciding to forgive does not mean that the offender will start acting differently. It does not mean that the person who wronged you will actually admit to the wrong did. It is not your business to make the person sorry. Forgiveness means letting the matter go. It might even need you to forgive yourself first before getting a way of forgiving others.
– Realize that forgiving does not mean condoning more wrong deeds
Accepting does not mean agreeing. Sometimes you may accept the opinion of another person even if you do not agree with him/her. In cases of grudges, we are afraid of letting go because of the assumption that the offender will feel that he/she has won. Note that acceptance only means that you have forgiven the person. After all, you cannot go back and change the past.
– Ask yourself: Why?
Basically, people feel that anger and grudges are a burden when they realize that their own development is being stalled. It becomes boring to keep talking about an old event that happened to you yet the wrongdoer does not even care. It feels bad to keep rewinding the same scenes in your head and turning the hurt in your heart. The grievance begins to feel old and even the people around you no longer pay attention to your complaining. It does not matter anymore. Yet strangely enough, letting go feels like a threat. You have already taken the default stand of a victim- “This happened to me and I’m still hurting.” You may also fear that letting go will make you feel empty. Why then is it so important to let go of the anger and grudge? To create room for good things and have healthier and more positive feelings in your life.
– Consider a positive trade-off
In order to let go easily, take stock of the benefits that will accrue to you after forgiveness. Know that letting go of the anger will give you peace and extra personal energy. All the time you spent turning over the pain in your heart will be used for positive gains. Forgiving will give you a sense of freedom and an ability to trust and rebuild a more genuine relationship.
– Do not allow anger to define you
Anger can block your progress. You can actually be defined by the grudges you hold. These feelings will keep you stuck in the same location. Even if you feel that the offender must be punished. It is important to forgive him/her for the wrong deed for your own freedom. For instance, the people in the South Carolina shoot out chose to forgive the shooter even if they still wanted him to face the law. Do not let the offenses define your life, there are so many good things waiting for you ahead.
– Pay attention to the feedback you are getting
Firstly, if the people around you suggest that you are getting stuck, it is time to start a new narrative. Even the most patient and compassionate listeners get weary of complaints. When you hold onto a grudge, there are high chances that you will keep repeating your grievance story. Once you hear your friends or relatives complain about your behavior or narratives, you need to find a new line.
– Change the conversation
If you are the confidant of a person who is holding a grudge, it is upon you to help him move on. For instance, instead of concentrating only on the situation leading to the grudge and the details of the offense, deepen your curiosity and assess why the person needs to stay stuck on the past yet we are in the present moment. If you have listened to the complainer enough, it is okay to tell him/her with compassion and kindness that you cannot keep hearing the same sad story and that he/she needs to change.
– Practice letting go
Empathy enables one to forgive. Recognize the perspective of the other person. Understand that everyone has some unresolved pain or issue. Note that when a person acts in his/her self-interest, there are high chances of conflicting with your interests. Such knowledge can help you deal with anger and grudges. You know that it is not every action hurting you that is deliberately designed to make you feel bad. Some of the practices you can use to let go include visualization, daily affirmation meditation, journal writing and monitoring your attitude and thoughts will help. Try picturing a rope that is connecting you to the wrongdoer then let it go. Imagine yourself carrying a big unnecessary stone in your heart then drop it in a dark hole.
– Let go of the victimhood state
You can spend years ranting and raving about an event that took place a long time ago but the truth is, it will not make your life better. If you keep complaining about your childhood, then you will not be able to move on to better things in adulthood. At least you will not achieve your full potential. You will find that everything that happens to you leads back to one issue … the person that hurt you. Feeling like you are always hurt and pissed off will not serve any positive purpose. If anything, you will always be vulnerable. Everything happening in your life will feel personal and forgiveness will be very hard. It is therefore very important to let go of the role of the victim and be in charge of your own life.
– Embrace yourself
Having the power to let go of grudge results in transformation and elevation. Once you drop the victimhood role, you discover a different person in you. Beneath that anger is a person who is capable of love, someone who is textured and layered with positive energy. Love and appreciate the person you have become after letting the grudges go.
– Build on grace
There is an advanced form of forgiveness referred to as grace. It is the ability to have prepackaged forgiveness. In simple terms, grace is having the ability to pull out forgiveness from a shelf even when it is least deserved. Such strength will help you to keep close relations with people even when they wrong you. In fact, you will be able to influence other people with your positive energy. Grace will help you to bypass grudges all together.
Chapter 7 – Identifying What Causes Your Anger
When dealing with anger, it is important to understand the things that trigger this emotion. At the most basic level, anger can be used to help protect family members, loved ones and territories from harm. It can also be used to respond to perceived and real threats and protect against losses.
Other causes of anger can be very diverse depending on the people involved and while some of them are rational and justifiable, others are completely irrational. Simply put, irrational anger might indicate that you have a problem with anger management and even accepting that you need help.
Some of the questions you can answer to help you recognize your anger include;
How do I recognize that I am angry?
What are my reactions when I am upset?
Which places, people or events make me angry?
How does my anger affect other people and my relationships?
Some of the common triggers of anger include;
1. Loss, grief, sadness, death of a loved one,
2. Tiredness, – people with short tempers are more likely to lose their temper when tired or irritable
3. Rudeness, poor services, and interpersonal skills
6. Sexual frustration
7. A feeling of disappointment or failure
8. Some forms of stress, loss of control, unrealistic deadlines
9. Becoming angry because of drug abuse and also withdraw symptoms
10. Being physically or mentally unwell especially when suffering from a serious chronic illness.
11. Crimes committed against you or your loved ones.
Considering that there are many reasons why one can get angry or have anger management issues, It is important to have an anger plan.
An anger plan involves tools that can help you keep track of the causes and rating of your anger. This plan helps a person to identify and diffuse anger in a timely manner before it gets out of control. In order to take control of your anger, you will want to list out things you can participate in to calm down.
For instance, part of an anger plan may involve taking time out once you start feeling upset, to remove yourself from the anger-provoking situation. Another tool that you may use to shift from anger is to change the conversation to a more neutral topic. An anger plan ensures that you have an understanding of your situation and a way of escaping.
There are a lot of things which one can do to deal with an anger situation once he is willing to take control. The best of these techniques will help a person to deal with the anger and stay calm without damaging his/ her pride. Because each person has unique strengths and weaknesses, the anger plan will differ for different individuals.
Point to note: Anger rating will help you to understand the intensity of anger at different times. However, they do not help you to predict the situations that will cause you anger in the first place. That is why an anger diary is important.
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. In order to prevent a certain thing from occurring, you need to understand what causes it in the first place. Being able to predict the specific situations that might bring about upsets can help you to keep your temper under control. When you identify these situations, you have a choice to avoid them completely, or, gather the best tools for handling the unavoidable ones. Knowing that a particular situation will trigger anger helps you to prepare with ways of minimizing risk.
An anger diary is very useful when you want to keep track of your anger experiences. You will need to make daily entries of situations that provoked your ANGER. Documenting these situations will help you to make comparisons and keep track of your progress. In order to have a useful diary, there is some information you need to record for each situation.
First, what exactly happened that lead you to feel stressed and pained? What exactly made you angry?
Secondly, what part of the situation was provocative? Which parts were not provocative?
Thirdly, what were you thinking at that point? What was taking place in your brain?
How angry did you feel? Rate your rage between 1and 100.
What was the effect of your actions and reactions at this point?
Was there another thing making you nervous, tensed or pressured at this point? If so, what was it?
Was the reaction really warranted at this point?
What were your physical reactions? Did your heart rate increase? Did your muscles become tense? Were your palms sweating?
Did you want to fight or flight?
Did you throw things around, become verbally abusive? Slam the doors?
Did you scream or turn the anger on another person?
How did you feel during and after the anger episode?
Did you feel different later after losing your temper?
What were the consequences of this incident?
Are the consequences justifiable?
After keeping track of this information for a period of time, say, a week or two, review it and look for the reoccurring themes. What triggers consistently made you mad? All triggers fall into one of these several categories
– Other people doing or failing to do what is expected of them
– People taking advantage of you
– Situations and people that are getting in your way,
– Being disappointed and angry with yourself
– A combination of these categories.
Also, look for those reoccurring thoughts that trigger your anger again and again. You can identify these thoughts particularly because they involve one or two of these lines;
– The belief that a person was trying to provoke you
– A person intentionally wronged you.
– The perception that you have been harmed or victimized.
– The belief that the other person was on the wrong yet he/she failed to admit.
– The belief that a person should have behaved differently in order to achieve success in a particular thing.
Use the anger diary to track instances where you felt angered or harmed, why you felt harmed, if and why you think the act was deliberate and why it was wrong. Identifying your thought patterns will help you to see the commonalities between themes and your anger. Some examples of thoughts triggering your anger include
People are rude, inconsistent and untrustworthy,
People do not pay enough attention to the needs of others and they hardly care about you.
People expect or demand too much from you
People are mean and cruel
People disrespect, shame and criticize you
People use you or take advantage of your good spirit
People are mean or cruel
People refuse to do their share or take responsibility
People try to manipulate or control you
People are stupid or incompetent
People make you wait
Below are some situations where these thoughts might occur;
1. When receiving and expressing negative thoughts.
2. When expressing a different opinion
3. When saying no
4. When protesting
5. When proposing an idea
6. When asking for cooperation
7. When responding to criticism
8. When speaking about something that angers you
9. When dealing with an uncooperative person
Underlying all these trigger thoughts is the mentality that other people are behaving in the wrong manner and you have every right to be angry and act out. All trigger thoughts seem to pass the blame to other people and none to you. In most cases, people will identify a line of thought or pattern that fuels their anger. Look for the instances where your anger rose and look for similarities and similar triggering thoughts making you lose your temper.
The purpose of your diary is to facilitate your process of identifying the recurring behavioral elements and patterns that really push your anger off the table. The more accurately you can trace and observe your behaviors and feelings, the higher the chances of control. The more detailed your diary is, the better your chances of finding your triggers accurately and finding your control. Understanding the way your anger operates will help you to come up with a planned strategy for coping with the different emotions in a more productive way.
Once you have spotted some of the things triggering your anger, and the different themes, you will be better positioned to work constructively towards controlling your anger. Your response to these triggers is the main area you needed to monitor. Anger triggering thoughts arise automatically and in most cases, instantaneously. Anger management requires you to become conscious of your thoughts and actions regardless of the situation. You need to deliberately work towards identifying the moment when anger starts to rise and take control before things get out of hand.
For instance, imagine someone cuts you off while you are driving on a freeway yet you want to beat the clock and arrive at a meeting in time. Take note of the physical reactions letting you know just how upset you are at that moment. Once you notice these feelings, the next step is to apply an anger control plan. First, take a deep breath. Secondly, try to think about the situation in a rational way. See, your first reaction normally involves the impulse to attack. Kin anger management, you should consciously redirect your thoughts and instead of thinking that the driver deliberately cut you off to make you late, look at it as a mistake. Maybe the driver did not see you in the first place. If you choose to think that the issue at hand was a mistake rather than an intentional offense, it becomes easier to forgive and tolerate.
When you feel justified to feel angry, you give yourself permission to be upset, even though the reason for it is not warranted. The sooner you stop justifying your anger the faster it will recede. While you might have every reason to be angry or to hold a grudge, there is no justification for acting inappropriately due to loss of a temper. Remember that being angry is not good for your health either. In fact, it destroys all your important relationships.
Chapter 8 – Take Responsibility for Your Anger
We tend to blame others for our behavior especially when angry. That is why we found that most triggers of anger result from our opinion of others. For instance, one can claim that he is angry because someone insulted him, or another one is rude and self-centered. “If he did not say that, I would not have beaten her.” “If my father had been there for me, I would be a better person.” “If she can respect me, I would never be abusive e to her.”
These are some of the examples you might have heard during your lifetime as angry people make excuses for their state and behavior. We all try to justify our anger by pointing at the weaknesses and errors of other people. Basically, we do anything to avoid taking the blame for the way we express our anger.
Imagine a case where a husband d hits his wife after threatening to get a divorce. The husband can claim that he was under the influence of alcohol or that his wife is too nagging thus forcing him to act drastically. This aggressive behavior is actually a way of covering the hurt powerlessness and fear he is feeling. Instead of acknowledging that the marriage is not working (And the part he played in the failure) and then working towards a solution, the man chooses to live in denial thus passing the blame to wife and alcohol.
Another good example would be that of a driver cutting another person off on a freeway. An angry person can take this act personally and claim that the driver did that intentionally. Basically, that assumption will trigger other negative feelings that were already there before the incidence. If you had a good morning in the house before leaving for work, chances are, you will not get angry because someone has cut you off on the road. However, if you had an argument with someone in the morning before leaving the house, you will harbor those angry feelings and when someone makes you angry or cuts you off on the freeway, you will take it personally. In fact, you will act out in an unexpected way.
In other cases, people choose to blame their childhood for the way they turned out. It is very easy for a person to blame a parent or guardian for who they turned out to be. What such persons fail to realize is that they have grown up and are responsible for their own behavior. There comes a time when you can no longer point at the modeling you observed while growing up. There comes a time when you know the difference between what is good and bad.
In each of the mentioned cases, the angry person denies responsibility for his behavior. He portrays himself as a helpless powerless and weak person who is incapable of change. Each person has a different form of anger and a way of passing the blame. However, every one of them fails to recognize the role he played towards the current situation. This tendency to blame other people only strengthens the self-perception of powerlessness and consequently, waters a higher likelihood of blaming others.
Suggesting that an event contributed to your anger is okay. However, it is a different issue to pass all the blame to other people and act as if we are entirely helpless. It is not okay to make other people responsible for the intensity of our feelings and our behaviors.
Why do we tend to blame other people?
Most of our habits in adulthood can be traced to early childhood development. The tendency to blame other people for our mistakes normally develops from a tender age. Some of us learn how to pass the blame from observing our parents. Others learn how to blame others as a defense mechanism. If a person was shamed or punished for admitting responsibility for something that turned out wrong, he will look for ways to escape the blame. Consequently, he learns how to blame other people. Perhaps we never develop a capacity to deal with our own feelings when something turns out as unexpected. Maybe we have never learned ways to accept our failures even when others criticize us.
Blaming other people for our anger and reactions be it individuals or societies can be traced back to the early days. History has it that human beings want to see themselves as better than others. That is why nations got into wars, and people went to fight each other. It is a battle for the conquest and when one fails, he will look for a scapegoat – something/someone to accuse. We want to see ourselves as flawless and better than we truly are. Passing the blame helps us to justify the actions we could consider as a weakness. For instance, losing a war makes a country appear weak but claiming that the winning country used corrupt ways to win helps the looser to avoid looking at its flaws.
Destructive anger, in general, is a defense mechanism. Blaming others for our ways of handling anger is also a strategy we use to avoid experiencing and recognizing difficult and challenging feelings such as guilt, shame, disappointment, hurt, sadness, inadequacy, and powerlessness. Passing the blame to other people is a way of self-defense – a strategy of deception used with the intention of preserving our self-esteem. It involves an attempt to deny the real situation and feelings which we judge as too uncomfortable. Blaming other people helps us to get away from shame. Blame, especially that arising from anger also reflects the need to disown our responsibility for our behaviors.
Blaming other people for our anger can also be considered ‘blame avoidance’ and like any other defense mechanism, it can be classified under ‘emotional avoidance’ whereby we avoid feeling the full intense and powerful emotions. Additionally, blaming others for the ways we express anger enhances our sense of righteousness and perfection. Since we do not have to acknowledge our actions and their consequences when blaming others, we see ourselves as flawless and justified.
For people with chronic anger, the blame is often used not only to express anger but also in other sectors of life. The blame game can help a chronically angry person to save face when they feel weak or flawed.
Consequences of blaming other people for how we handle anger.
1. When we blame others for the way we deal with anger, we fail to experience genuine and true empowerment. Blaming others only keeps a person away from taking responsibility for his actions. Basically passing the blame only diminishes your power of being self-sufficient and builds on your sense of victimhood. In other words, you become weaker and unable to develop a stronger feeling of self-reliance. You are unable to deal with other feelings like guilt, fear, and anxiety. When you continuously perceive yourself as a victim, you unknowingly foster stronger feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, and pessimism – all these negative feelings will increase the proneness for anger arousal.
Blaming others normally reduces autonomy and our free will to make choices. Consequently, we experience reduced freedom, and higher chances of losing our tempers over and over again.
2. Blaming others may also be viewed as a way of thriving on as well as contributing towards dependency. Genuinely speaking, taking responsibility for our actions is not always an easy task. In fact, admitting that we are flawed can easily arouse the feeling of anxiety. We might worry about what other people will think of us after they know about the other side. Taking responsibility can heighten our sense of loneliness as well as confusion. We become unsure of the decisions and choices we make in life. This kind of feelings fuels our need to blame others for our anger. We depend on blame games to explain our position to ourselves and others.
3. Failing to take responsibility distracts us form self-reflection. Basically, the blame game will keep you away from the challenging task of self-stock take. You will not see the need to reflect on your actions since there is someone else taking the blame. After all, another person made you act the way you did in the first place. Self-reflection is a difficult task because it reveals things about yourself which you might not want to really deal with. However, it is an important and crucial part of our lives and will enable us to take responsibility. Self-reflection expands our sense of choice and responsibility while blaming others constricts it. Through self-reflection, we are in a better place to define our desires and realize how to satisfy them. We develop constructive connections with ourselves through self-reflection. And this informs the choices we make about our lives.
4. Blaming other people contributes to feelings of powerlessness and helplessness. Holding someone else responsible for our actions only diminishes the openness of reflection and drains away power. These feelings of helplessness and powerlessness do not only lead to anger but also to depression. In recent researches, anger has been identified as an indicator of depression, more so in men. As such, while passing the blame might help one to avoid feelings such as guilt or anxiety, it only increases the chances of depression through increased levels of helplessness and hopelessness.
5. Blaming other people may reflect global thinking. This is more applicable in cases where a person shows his anger towards a certain group of people. some angry people will accuse whole ethnic groups, religions, races, and sexualities of the major difficulties in life. Some people will even blame strangers for their misfortunes. Such scapegoating only shows a global perspective that increases our sense of powerlessness and reactivity. It fosters a deep renunciation of responsibility that will further support a justification for aggression. Additionally, this scapegoating leads to the demonization of others supporting dehumanization.
6. Blaming others for our character robs us the opportunity to have stronger resilience t better deal with life changes and challenges. Every time we accuse someone else of our anger management failures, we miss the opportunity to examine the ways through which we get in our own way. In the process, we fail to actually move towards our goals. The lack of resilience leaves us unable to satisfy our key desires. Every time we blame others for our anger, we miss the opportunity to grow personally.
7. Blaming leads to more blaming. Researches on brain mechanisms have found that the more we have certain behaviors and thoughts, the more they become part of the neuronal pathways in our brains. Therefore, the more we blame others for our behaviors, the more we will continue to blame them. And the more we will have a reason to respond aggressively. Finally, anger and aggression will be a go-to reaction without hesitation.
What is the antidote to blame?
We all know that life is challenging. All of us have experienced some percentage of suffering. Everyone has weaknesses and flaws and we tend to make mistakes. All of these aspects make us human. What then can we use as an antidote to blame? We can cultivate self-compassion. This involves learning to fully acknowledge our human nature. Self-compassion helps us to accept and acknowledge our thoughts and feelings with positive curiosity rather than judgment. It also supports our ability to respond and acknowledge our pain rather than ignore, deny, minimize or suppress it. Compassion can help us to accept all parts of ourselves instead of disowning those things we find not befitting.
Additionally, building on compassion entails evoking wisdom and mindfulness to locate what is in our best interests. This compassion also helps us to engage in self-reflection which is very essential for us to deeply connect with our inner selves. Deep connections with ourselves help us to identify who we are and who we aim to become. Compassion involves turning inward and asking yourself what you can do to improve your situation. Such self-assessment is crucial especially during suffering’ Compassion further supports our ability to engage in solitude – which is a state allowing for self-reflection and increased self-awareness.
Some of the steps you can take to reduce the tendency of blaming others include;
a. Recognize the blame when it occurs,
b. Reflect on the reason you are passing the blame. What feelings are you avoiding through blaming another person?
c. Cultivate self-compassion and increase self-awareness. You are only human and bound to make mistakes, have weaknesses, and flaws.
d. Recognize how global thinking contributes to your blame habits
e. Assess your contributions to your anger and behavior.
f. Identify what you can do to deal with your anger in a more constructive way and address your suffering.
g. Experiment with the feelings that scare you such as vulnerability and fear.
h. Practice assertive communication. Talk about how you were impacted by the situation rather than how someone made you feel.
i. Be aware of any negative criticism or self-talk you experience while dealing with the blame issues.
Your tendency to blame others may have provided you some form of protection from uncomfortable feelings such as fear and anxiety. Because this blaming becomes a habit, a way of thinking, a deeply ingrained practice, it takes some time to let go. Each habit that is learned can be changed. However, you will need a lot of motivation and discipline to let go of these protective defenses. Since these blame tendencies are deeply established within the self, you may need professional help you deal with them.
Reducing blaming habits can be very invigorating. This process will help a person to take back his mental energy thus understand the landscape of his inner self. Further, we are able to develop resilience in dealing with the most difficult challenges in life.
Epictetus said that we cannot choose our circumstances but we can always choose how we react to them. Though our feelings are subject to the influence of external events, these events have no value by themselves. We are the people who attach value to circumstances. Our attitudes are influenced by how we perceive the world, and consequently, our behaviors for INSTANCE, if we assume that every person has the intention of hurting or using us, chances are we will always take the defense. Our attitude towards everyone will be selfish.
In simpler terms, we are fundamentally accountable for the beliefs and attitudes that represent our world view; that is, what is worthwhile, good, fearful, significant, pleasant, horrible et cetera. Then this means that we are responsible for our actions. Taking responsibility for our actions is a crucial step for personal growth and a significant element in managing difficult situations in life. Being responsible helps us to control our feelings, more so anger.
What is the role of accountability in anger management?
Anger is considered to be one of the most difficult emotions to deal with especially when it gets out of control. Angry behavior is normally an indicator of lack of control. It shows that the person has unresolved issues. On the other hand personal responsibility is an indicator of proactivity towards regaining control of our lives. Being responsible and accountable allows us to control our own emotions thus offering us the liberty to act in a constructive and healthy manner.
The word responsibility is coined from two words; response and ability. This means that we have an inbuilt ability to choose our responses. In its most basic form, anger is a reactive action happening automatically and often unconsciously. The opposite of such a reaction is responsibility. Responsible behavior results from our own conscious choice. It is based on our goals values and aspirations rather than how we feel at the moment. Being responsible means staying mindful and aware. Responsibility is about understanding the results of our actions now and in the future. It involves doing things and at the same time asking “is the behavior I am engaging in beneficial and desirable in the long run?”
Sometimes, anger seems to be driven by something or someone beyond us. However, it appears so because we are not really aware of the source of these feelings. Basically, anger arises from within and as we get to know more about the emotion, we understand the root cause. Once we understand the mechanism of anger and take a deeper look into ourselves, we realize that the seed of anger was in us long before the circumstance that made us act out. This seed is the real cause of our suffering, not the actual event.
Below are some of the guidelines you can use to become more responsible for your anger and even deal with it
First, recognize that anger is not the main problem by itself. It is our perception of the particular situation that is the problem. If you assume that a driver cut you off knowingly, then you will get angry. When you look at things more closely, you will realize that the anger was not as a result of the driver; rather it was your perception. Where did the feelings of anger come from? Somewhere inside you. The origin of your anger and reaction is not the other person, it is you. The feeling and the origin are yours. You are the one who summoned and allowed anger to take control.
Most importantly, try to answer this question; why did you call upon your anger during this situation? Why do you call upon this emotion at certain moments? Anger is a response to something. What are you trying to cover or protect? To answer this question, step into the role of an observer. Look at your situation rationally. Some of the questions you might have to answer are who, what where when and why.
Who does this person remind me of?
What felt like it is out of my control at that moment?
When did I feel like this before? Have I been in a similar situation before?
Why did I feel upset in this situation?
Many times when you are feeling out of control, you are recalling something probably from your childhood or earlier times when you did not have any control of the situation. Even though you have become an adult with full control of your choices, thoughts, and feelings, a similar situation might trigger a memory overwhelming you with the vulnerability.
If you have a hard time answering these questions, seek help from a coach or counselor. Once you learn what causes your anger, you will know how to be responsible. Improved responsibility skills will enable you to feel less stressed and even have better relationships. If another person was responsible for your feelings, then there is nothing you could do about it. However, there is some good news. You are responsible for your feelings. And taking responsibility is the only way out.
Secondly, transform your anger.
Anger is a normal part of our emotions and we always carry this fire inside us. We all have the task of guarding our fire so that it does not burn us and our loved ones. It can also be better for us if we can redirect this energy into some positive power. So, instead of being tempered by the fire of anger, we could use it transformatively and constructively as an enlightening force.
Thirdly, know that anger belongs to us.
It does not matter who or what triggered our anger, the emotions is yours and mine. You are the only person responsible for your own emotions and I am the only one controlling my emotions. We are responsible for our own feelings, be they positive or negative. While we can actually blame someone else for the way we feel, it is upon ourselves to manage our feelings and actions.
Fourthly, reduce expectations and catch the anger early on.
Our unfulfilled expectations can lead to anger. When we expect too much from others and ourselves without creating room for failure, it becomes easy to get upset. Before setting your own standards, make sure that you have the ability to accept results. Be responsible for your expectations and results. Be honest with yourself and acknowledge your abilities. Having expectations is in our human nature but it is up to us to control our attachment to them.
To catch your anger early on, you need to know what it feels like at a low level. Understand your feelings when you are calm. Use the anger diary to study the events that fuel your anger. The sooner you catch that anger, the greater your ability to stay rational and calm the intense feelings. Note that prevention is better than cure.
Fifthly, Change your thoughts and inner self.
If anger recedes within us then we should change certain aspects of self to help overcome it. Our thoughts contribute to anger, therefore, we might need to change them. For instance, look for ways to change the absolutism mentality. You are not perfect, you are human.
Finally, adopt some coping strategies and do your bets
If you are challenged by anger, there is a need for you to adjust and improve your coping skills. Anger is very resilient and you might have to do more than you imagined to reach your goals. However, note that you can only do your best to accommodate your needs and goals. Anything beyond your best is outside your power, therefore, you must accept the outcome, no matter what it is. Control what you can and leave the rest to the universe. You do not have to always monitor each aspect of the world. Letting go of the things that are beyond your power is the ultimate freedom. That freedom leads to happiness.
By being responsible for our emotions, more so anger, and aspiring to become better persons, we can transform negative emotions into positive energy and make life more enjoyable. So, be responsible for your anger and use this ability as an antidote for anger.
Chapter 8 – Long-Term and Short-Term Solution to Anger
Although anger can be utterly destructive, it would be weird to live without an emotion that alerts us of wrongdoing. Imagine how the world would be if we did not feel disappointed when things fail to work out the way we expect. What if we did not feel offended when a person wrongs us? It would not feel so good. However, anger is not a ticket to wrong deeds. But, because our lives today are so stressful, anger can get out of control and make us lose focus on what is good. Uncontrolled anger can cost us a lot of things including relationships, jobs and even our own lives.
This realization should not make you angry or fret for that matter because there are some anger management techniques that can help you to mitigate anger in the long term, These techniques can be used to control the potentially destructive emotion more so, for the long term.
First, be aware of the triggers of your anger.
Understanding why you are angry in the first place can help you strategize on getting rid of the emotion. The only time you can understand your anger is when you are not angry. At this juncture, the anger diary comes in handy. Analyze your anger patterns, themes, and triggers after the episode. It is very hard to critically analyze a situation while your mind is still seething with anger. However, for the sake of long term control, it is very important to analyze oneself and the underlying reasons for loss of temper. What causes your anger? As stated by Socrates, a life without examination is a life not worth living. This also applies to anger management. To understand your anger, recall the last time you were angry and assess all the elements involved in the situation. Answer the following questions;
1. What made you angry?
2. What were the triggers?
3. how did the other people react?
4. How did you react to the reactions of other people?
5. What did you feel after the anger had settled?
Write these answers in a notebook or journal – the more details you can include, the better it is for analysis. Keep recording information from different scenes and compare the details. Gradually, you will identify the similarities and common patterns. After a period of self-analysis, you will be able to master your own emotions.
Secondly, make a choice to not get angry.
It is said that anger is a choice you do not get angry unless you allow yourself. The main challenge is that we get angry so often that it becomes automatic and losing a temper becomes a normal part of life. Making a choice to not get angry can be hard at first but once you identify your triggers, it becomes easier to control your emotions. Choosing not to get angry requires you to actually know the causes of your upset. Then, identify ways to avoid, control, or ignore them. Note that this second tip will not work well unless you use the first one appropriately.
Did you know that there are some though patterns known to trigger anger? Some thoughts such as “people like that should be prevented from using the road” or ‘that is not fair’ will only increase the anger. Negative thoughts such as these will keep a person focused on the matter triggering the anger. Once you let these thoughts go, it becomes easier to calm down. Try to avoid absolutism. Phrases such as never ( You never pay attention to what I say), always ( you always hurt me), should and should not (You should drop me off at work, you should not be with that group), ought or ought not ( everyone ought to respect me), must or must not (I must always be neat or I must not burn my food) or, not fair.
One of the best anger management techniques used in the long term for adults involves meditation. This techniques does not only allow you to have better control of your anger or negative emotion but also can bring about a sense of calm and inner peace. There are a number of meditation techniques you can apply but the most common one for anger management involves chanting some calming phrases such as “ I control my mind, I control my anger. I am contented, calm and peaceful. Nothing can pierce the circle of [peace protecting me. ” Regular practice of this meditation mantra and technique for a few minutes each day will eventually bring a difference in our life.
Fourthly, acknowledge your achievements in controlling anger.
Each time you manage to control your anger or any other negative emotion. Take some time to congratulate yourself and acknowledge your success. Self-recognition has multiple positive effects. The first one is strengthening the urge and ability to control emotions. Moreover, celebrating your own success will have a significant positive effect on your confidence. It will also lower the barriers that hinder your achievements.
Fifthly, look after yourself
Your own practices can either build or jeopardize your health and anger management ability. How much rest do you get? Is your sleep restful or restless? What is your diet and how is your food intake? Lack of rest and the use of alcohol and other substances can make anger management a challenge. Drug abuse lowers inhibitions which are required to stop the body from acting unexpectedly and unacceptably when angry. Watch your own health practices in order to control anger.
Having control over anger can be very hard especially if losing your temper has become a habit. Anger can become a deeply ingrained practice requiring exceptional efforts to let go. However, with regular application of anger management techniques and perseverance, you will eventually master these negative emotions and enjoy a happier and more productive life.
The above-mentioned techniques are very handy in the long term. However, there are steps you need to take in order to tame your temper in the short term. What can you do when a person or situation is really pushing on your nerves? What can you do when someone cuts you off in traffic and you are fuming? What can you do when a child has refused to cooperate with you? What do you do if the perceptions of other people make your blood pressure to rocket? It is important to deal with anger in a healthy way otherwise it will affect your relationships.
In your moment of anger, think before talking or be completely silent until the emotion has passed. Anger brings about a form of anger which can lead you to say something you will regret later. Take some time to collect your thoughts before voicing them. Allow the other people involved in the situation to think and reconsider the words before stating them. During this moment, take deep breaths, take a walk, and practice the muscle relaxation exercises and any others that might take your mind away from the anger. You need to focus on the matter at hand in a rational way. Anger makes you irrational and you will have a hard time making substantial decisions.
Once you are calm and can think rationally, express your opinion. A clear head will help you look at your perception and the position of the other person. State your opinion in a substantial, assertive and non-confrontational way. The idea is to pass your message without forcing the other person to take a defensive and confrontational position. State your needs and concerns as clearly and directly as possible without trying to control or hurt the others.
When you feel your anger rising, getting some physical exercises can help. First, physical exercises can get your mind off the issue at hand for a while. Run if you can or take a quick walk. Go into a park or follow a nature trail. Spend some time participating in other enjoyable activities. When you come back to the issue that caused your anger, it will be easier to think clearly.
Exercising also involves taking some time out. Breaks are not just for kids in schools. We are all human and sometimes, life presents us with challenges. Give yourself some short breaks whenever thongs get stressful. A few moments of ‘me time’ can help you to prepare for what is coming ahead without getting irritated or angry.
In some cases, you might not be able to go for a walk or even ignore the matter at hand for a while. In such a situation, you may use a technique such as counting to ten and reciting positive mantras. Counting to ten buys you time to cool off and switch from the topic at hand for a while. It turns off the impulse to lash out. Breath and recite some positive energy mantras such as “ I am in control. Nothing will make me lose my temper”.
During the break or exercise time, focus on all possible solutions. D not focus so much on what made you mad, rather, assess the situation at hand and select some possible solutions. For instance, if the messy room of your child gets you mad, close the door. If your partner always arrives home late thus delaying dinner time, schedule the meals for later. Regardless of the situation, always remember that anger will not fix anything for you; in fact, it will only make matters worse. Sometimes, the solution to your problem is right in your face. Just shift your attention from that anger to finding a solution for the situation.
One thing that fuels anger intensely is passing the blame to other people. As seen earlier, most of the anger in our lives arise because;
People are rude, inconsistent, and untrustworthy, People do not pay enough attention to the needs of others and they hardly care about you, People expect or demand too much from you, People are mean and cruel. People disrespect, shame and criticize you. They use you or take advantage of your good spirit. People refuse to do their share or responsibility. They also try to manipulate or control you. People are stupid or incompetent, and make you have to wait
In other words, we always accuse other people thus thinking that we can do nothing about the situation. This criticism or scapegoating only increases the tension within yourself and with other people. Passing the blame only breaks your relationships. One way to control your anger is to avoid pointing fingers at other people and accepting your role in the situation. Use the ‘I’ statement more often than ‘you’ statements. For instance, say “ I am upset that you did not clear the table after dinner” rather than “you are very self-centered and cannot help with anything in the house.” Be respectful and non-confrontational in your arguments. Offer help whenever it is needed.
As seen in a previous topic, grudges are not healthy. They will make you a slave. You will not be able to forgive a person now if you still hold something against them from the past. Forgiveness is a powerful tool and grace is even stronger. If you allow a grudge, anger, and other negative feelings to bring you down and cover your forgiving ability, you can hardly control your anger. You will find yourself wallowing in unwarranted anger, sense of injustice and bitterness if you keep holding grudges. However, forgiving one wrong strength your ability to let go of another wrong. Through forgiving, you can learn more from the situation. Forgiveness also strengthens your relationships.
Lightening the mood during that moment of anger can also help you to face the situation and lower your anger. Remember that tip about using your imagination to picture your anger triggering boss as a cartoon? It can be very handy when you are angry. Try to make every anger triggering situation a lively time – a situation where you can laugh, this way, you release anger faster than you accumulate it. However, humor should not involve sarcasm because it might hurt people’s feelings and make things worse.
Use relaxation skills. These breathing and muscle relaxation techniques can be used for both short term and long term anger management. When you feel your anger arising or tempers flaring, apply the relaxation techniques. Take deep breaths, release the tension that is accumulated in different muscles and repeat some meditation phrases such as “I am calm, I will not lose my temper”. Relaxation may also involve listening to some calming music as you fill your journal. You may do yoga exercises or whatever it takes to relax.
It is important to acknowledge that controlling anger can be quite the task and some people may find it challenging. If you cannot control your anger, and self-help tools are not helping you, it is okay to seek help from professionals.
Summary: Putting it together
The use of anger management techniques.
In this book, we have described various techniques you can use to manage anger. It may appear as if these techniques have to be practiced in isolation. However, that is not the case. These techniques may be practiced in isolation or in groups. Applying several of them at a go will help you to work on anger from different angles.
When you are facing a situation that might trigger your anger, learn how to stall your reaction. Stop and make some reflections before responding. Below are some steps you may follow.
1. Immediately stop how you are acting and thinking at the first indicator you are getting angry. Using the anger diary, you will be able to know the signs and symptoms that show your anger is rising. Imagery may help you to stop the anger track. Imagine a big red road sign written stop.
2. Practice the deep breathing exercises and repeat the relaxation cues such as saying the words calm and cool. Use muscle relaxation techniques to reach a calm state.
3. Reflect and try to spot the emotional trigger that is setting you off at that moment. Ask yourself: what thoughts are occupying my head?
What is my body doing?
Am I responding to an incomplete first impression or a real problem?
What do I want from this situation? Is it revenge? Is it really worth getting angry?
What is likely to happen if I act out?
Is this aggression affecting anyone else?
4. Choose your response wisely. Work to identify an assertive response instead of an aggressive one.
5. Then, after you are sure your response is rational, respond.
Often, In the middle of an angering situation, chances are, you will feel that things are moving too fast. In fact, you will feel that there is not enough time for you to follow every step of anger management. Still, this is just an illusion. This pressure is only created by the intense feeling of arousal caused by anger. You do not have to respond very fast. Take your time.
If you find that the moment or conversation is getting heated, it is okay to ask for a time out. During the break, go through the anger management steps. Ensure that the way you ask for time out is respectful. For instance, you may say “Kindly allow me to step out for a while. I’ll be back in a few minutes to continue without discussion.” Time out is a sure way of interrupting the anger process. Therefore, upon returning to the situation, you will be refreshed and better placed to approach it with a new perspective and in an assertive way.
If the situation does not allow you to take a break, try the following steps;
– Be an active listener. When listening to what the other person is saying, do not be quick to state your opinion. Keep your mind open. od not “yes but” them, That is equal to turning the conversation from them to you. That is what you want to avoid. Allow a person to completely share his/her opinion regardless of how much they overstep you.
– Use the ‘I’ statement to make requests or express your feelings. Basically, a statement such as “ you are not caring or understanding” sounds like an accusation. It triggers the defense mechanism of the other person. However, a statement such as “I feel that this situation has brought about a conflict between us” is very positive. It encourages the other person to actually identify the conflict rather than start justifying their position. The goal of communication is to let others know where we stand without belittling or beating them up.
– Make intermittent eye contact. When confronting a person, ensure that you make eye contact. This does not mean staring at the person – it comes off as rude. Intermittent eye contact shows that you are courageous and are willing to defend your stand.
– To create an empathetic mood, try stating the common needs and goals between you and the other person. It can be difficult to identify commonalities between you and a person that is triggering your anger but, that can be beneficial for your relationship.
– Assess whether the person you are talking to has really understood what you were saying. Have you been really heard? If the message is home, continue with the conversation. If you have been misunderstood, re-explain your position. The most important thing is to reduce the chances of a conflict. If the person is too angry to understand, give him/her some time off. Restate your stand using different words. Understand that not everyone has the ability or knowledge to apply the same anger management techniques you are using. If communication becomes impossible at this moment, disengage and continue during another time.
– Refuse to react prematurely. If you need some more time to think things over critically, buy it. Stall the other person until you feel stable in your senses. If you are forced to choose between losing control and walking away, do the latter. It is better to remain in control than to stay angry.
Practice makes perfect
Be sure, you will get a lot of opportunities to practice the anger management skills you have learned. However, you may practice these techniques through role-play exercises. There are some role-playing exercises designed to resemble your anger triggers. You can roleplay on your own or with a partner. First, make a list of those things that trigger your anger. Then, Come up with situations during which you may face these triggers. If you are role-playing on your own, stand in front of a mirror and assume that someone has angered you. The mirror technique has been used for long by many professional actors therefore; do not feel like you are mad. Standing in front of a mirror allows you to observe your reactions and facial expressions. Recall a time that you were very angry and watch your physical reactions. Now, imagine that a person is standing in front of you and triggering your anger. Picture his/her physical and verbal reactions. Then, say the things you want to tell him/her out loud as if he/she was really there and imagine the reactions. Now, work your anger management techniques into the conversation. You might feel weird or too conscious about your acting at first but gradually, you will pass the initial anxiety and find the exercise very helpful.
If you can access a friend, partner or therapist to practice your skills with, it will be much better. Basically, it is easier to get into the role when you have an actual person to practice with. First, explain to your partner what you want then describe a scene that triggers your anger. Let the partner act as you respond. Ensure that you are incorporating your anger management skills in the role.
Some people will learn how to control their anger by themselves. You might find that after putting the techniques learned in this book to practice, it is easy to manage your anger. However, some people will not be as successful. In this case, it is advisable that one considers other types of anger management programs.
Individual and group therapy
For some people, the best and easiest way of changing their inappropriate anger management practices is through a psychologist. Some people have to work with licensed mental health practitioners on an individual basis or in a group setting. A therapist who has an unbiased opinion can help you deal with anger. If you opt for group therapy, it is even more advantageous because other members of the group will share their opinions and experiences. An anger management therapist will also be knowledgeable in the kind of anger management strategies you need to apply more in your life. HE/SHE will help you to personalize a set of anger management techniques for changing your behavior and thinking.
If you choose to use the therapy route, ensure that you select the right the correct kind of therapist. In this world, there are multiple practices of therapy and a large number of therapists subscribing to different schools of thoughts. There are therapists applying psychodynamics, dynamics, psychospiritual and humanistic schools of thought. Al of them are good and they help you to get in touch with your emotions and feelings in a deeper way. However, in anger management, what you want to learn is control of emotions. Instead of exploring anger, the person seeking anger management help looks for ways to control how they react. Putting this into consideration, a cognitive-behavioral therapist is generally the best option for anger management.
There are other characteristics you will want to look for while selecting a therapist. First, any therapist you choose should be licensed. That will depend on the state or country you are in. secondly, you will want to inquire if the therapist is actually trained in anger management therapies and techniques. Has this therapist specialized in anger management therapy or is he/she trying out with you?
A typical anger management therapy course will unfold less like a traditional therapy session and more like a class. You will learn how to become conscious of your emotions, physical and cognitive responses to anger, and the different ways to respond to conflicts and triggers. Depending on your personal anger challenges and needs, the therapist will help you work on breathing exercises, muscle relaxation techniques, safe mechanisms of releasing anger, physically, emotionally and mentally, communication skills and cognitive restructuring. Basically, cognitive restructuring involves disputing and changing your thought patterns and consequently reshaping your emotions.
Normally, the success and effectiveness of therapy are majorly determined by your own dedication and hard work. How badly do you want to take control of your emotions? How regularly do you attend the sessions? How often do you practice your homework? On average, the effects of this therapy are visible after eight or ten sessions.
Anger management classes
Some organizations may offer anger management classes through the employee benefit plan. There are other organizations dedicated to serving the community and may offer such therapy sessions. Anger management classes have a different quality and length depending on the provider. While some sessions may span for weeks or even months, others are only designed to last one or two weekends. It is better to choose a longer class because you will be exposed to more information and have ample time to practice. However, if you do not have enough time to attend a length therapy session, settle for a short one. Regardless of the length of therapy sessions, you will have assignments to complete, projects and quizzes to track your progress.
Before settling for a class, think about your needs. What are you dealing with? What would you like to achieve? Do you need general anger management help or does your problem fit more in couple’s therapy? Is it your workplace or work colleagues that trigger your anger? If so, would you rather attend classes provided by your organization? If you have been mandated by the court or asked by your employer to get anger management help, you have to choose an approved therapist or class that will help you keep track of the progress and give you a formal proof showing that you participated in and completed the sessions.
Handling a relapse
As you work towards gaining full control of your emotions, you might encounter moments when you relapse to your old habits. There is no guarantee that these techniques will work within the first attempt. Sometimes you will find yourself becoming aggressive, inappropriately angry and even belligerent. Regardless of the intensity of a relapse, the biggest favor you can do for yourself is refusing to give up. Do not let all you learned to go to waste just because of a setback.
Do not allow a lapse to turn into a scapegoat for quitting, let that relapse be your stronger comeback. Do not forego all your gains just because of a fail. Let it be a learning experience. Assess the lapse and learn how it occurred. Which part of your anger management plan was insufficient? How can you prevent another lapse from occurring? Use the information to improve your anger management program, to work better next time.
For example, if you face one of the anger triggers, and your strategy for dealing with that trigger did not work, write that down next, consider what you could have done differently to handle that situation without blowing up. If it was a new thing that made you relapse, note it down and identify a plan for dealing with it. Think things out in advance and anticipate any causes of relapses. Remember that – you have more to lose by giving up and more to gain by holding on to that program. Do not give up.
Thank you for making it through to the end of …. Let us hope it was informative and has provided you with the tools you need to manage anger and other emotions. Please note that it may take a while before you notice the effects of applying these anger management techniques. However, every step you take towards becoming better at anger management will redefine you, your relationships and your whole life. There will be anger outbursts and maybe some relapses making you feel lost and lonely for a while. However, do not give up. You are on a worthy course and the freedom you will get from better anger management is worth fighting for. Furthermore, there will be plenty of room for rediscovering and growth with the right guidance and steps.
The anger will not always feel stronger than you. This journey is full of ups and downs. Some days you will feel weak while others you will be as strong as ever. This alteration of moods is okay because you are still learning – Discovering things about yourself which you had buried for so long.
The moment you understand the anger, it becomes easier to manage. Anger management is important in our everyday life. This book has taken you through anger management techniques. There is no one specific thing that a person can do to manage anger overnight. However, if you follow management steps with dedication and full commitment, you will reach your goals. Combine a number of treatment options if they will help you reach your goals. When working with a therapist, ensure that you follow all the instructions given and keep an open communication channel.
The next step is to stop reading and start applying the lessons in real life. Do whatever you have identified as necessary to curb anger and ensure the health and wellness of you and the people around you. You will find that many people are still ignorant about the proper ways of anger management. You will also realize that the majority of those people who seem to have full control are just suppressing anger, and it might harm them one day. You could try to engage them and share a thing or two you have learned herein. Feel free to recommend/gift this book to them.
You might also need to refer to this book at a later date. The information shared can be used at any time any day. Keep it and review it as often as you want. Just because you have reached the end of the book does not mean that there is nothing else to learn about anger and you. Read more and expand your horizons. It is the only way you will gain the control you seek. Pay attention to the changes that will flood your life as soon as you start managing your anger, more so assertively. Use some of the tips herein to make the world a better place.
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