UPDATED: 1/22/2019 You’ve been angry too often and too much of the time, and you recognize the price you are paying – social withdrawal, and fractured relationships. Perhaps you even self-medicate by overeating, drinking alcohol, escaping to bed, or substance abuse. Consider these five action steps so you can walk away from the rocky road and begin a life of happiness.
Anger management how to
No point in denying the obvious or factual. It’s not your imagination. The evidence is clear, and the result can be feelings of fear, anxiety, overwhelm, depression, apathy, and withdrawal. Increasingly, many people also experience intense and deeply abiding anger.
Chronic anger can lead to mental health problems such as emotional fatigue and volatility, anxiety, depression, feelings of isolation, melancholy, and resentment.
Anger compounds over time. If it goes on for days, weeks and months, you’ll face an outlook on life that may be gloomy. You may feel trapped. You may have frequent episodes of frustration and impatience with even minor irritants and with those close to you.
It may negatively impact your relationships at work and home. Others may now perceive you as prickly, moody, short-tempered, and someone to be avoided whenever possible. Your options and opportunities seem to shrink, and you feel mistreated, stressed, and miserable.
So what do you do? Breathe and release the negative sides of this emotion! It’s possible to be steadfast in living the Golden Rule and channel all the energy anger consumes into positive change.
Action can empower personal reflection and growth, help mitigate the health impacts of anger, and ultimately lead to greater peace and contentment. You can channel your anger to make the world a better place to live.
Here’s a five-step guide to manage anger and turn your frown upside down! Happiness is possible!
1. Reflect on your anger
The first step in your anger management plan is to acknowledge your feelings and own them without judgment. Here’s why this is so important.
Think about this for a second. Shifting the way you think from negative to positive is simple, yet powerful!
Do you think of the glass as half full or half empty? If you’re angry often, it’s probably empty. Once you recognize this is your perspective, look at your life through a glass that’s half-full.
If you experience chronic anger, this mental shift may take time. Take it one step at a time. Small steps eventually make you more comfortable with taking bigger steps.
First, reflect on your emotions with an anger impact log for a month. Track the date, day of the week, time, duration, intensity, trigger, and physical symptoms.
It is likely that in the moment, the last thing on your mind will be capturing this information (although it might serve as a “circuit breaker” if you do). So, spend 5 minutes at the end of the day completing your entries.
I think you may be surprised by the patterns which may become clear when you review your anger log at the end of the four weeks. Is love, fear, or uncertainty driving your anger? Perhaps you won’t see the deep-seated cause immediately. For example, it’s hard to see that fear is causing anger yet it’s so common that one psychologist calls anger management — fear management.
It may take soul-searching and learning to truly find out what causes you to lose your temper, grow frustrated, and become irritable. However, this is an important step.
Be honest with yourself about the role you play in perpetuating the pattern.
This log will prove valuable information to develop a plan to address anger in your life.
2. Learn from your anger
It seems there is a broad spectrum of feelings around our feelings. Some people share to the point of TMI (too much information), and others are very uncomfortable sharing or showing them at all.
But regardless of which camp you may fall into or anything in between, there is much to be gained by acknowledging our emotions and taking the time to see what can be learned to bring us more gracefully into the future.
To be successful with anger management, you have to identify the cause of it. Did you lose your job, a loved one, suffer a health setback or some other dramatic life change? Recognize that these life events can dramatically alter the course of your life and may cause anger.
Finding the cause will help you find freedom from the anger, resentment, and other dangerous emotions. Pema Chödrön’s book, Don’t Bite the Hook, shows you the path out, so you don’t bite the “hook” and enter into habitual and destructive behavior.
In the book, Pema reveals how to stay centered, improve stressful relationships, stop the downward spiral, and awaken one’s compassion for self and others. That way you don’t get “hooked” by a situation and start the snowball effect.
It’s all about recognizing the root cause of the anger, and learning how to deal with it so you can prevent the spiral. Little things can cause it to happen. Perhaps you spilled coffee on your shirt, or it’s the way a co-worker speaks to you. Daily situations trigger these feelings that force you to shut down or tense up. Recognize what they are so you can deal with them more positively when they happen.
Sometimes it’s hard to see in the moment, but there are learning moments in each of these events.
3. Change your mindset
When you learn from a loss you’re practicing “emotional first aid according to psychologist Guy Winch.
Once you know the cause of your anger, change your mindset.
First, focus on changing your mindset once a day. If something goes wrong, focus on the positive rather than the negative. Be that glass half full person.
Do this once a day, then twice and so on. Slowly change your thinking.
There will likely be setbacks. When you find yourself falling back into a rut, redirect your feelings before one problem causes a snowball effect and leads to another failure. Psychologist Guy Winch calls this practicing ” You have to stop the emotional spiral early, or it’s hard to stop.
When you feel like you failed, try to find a silver lining. If you focus on the negative, then Winch points out you’re less likely to perform at your best. Which makes you focus once again on your shortcomings starting the never-ending cycle.
As Winch points out, learn from that loss. It’s part of practicing emotional first aid. It may take time, but there is meaning in life events. Find it so you can live a more purposeful life and don’t continue to allow your emotions to snowball.
4. Use Emotional Freedom to cope with anger
It’s important to recognize and treat your pain and triggers immediately to prevent your life from spiraling out of control. You’re feeling emotional pain because it’s your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Think of it like a wound. When it hurts, you treat it with a bandaid, so the bleeding stops and the cut heals. Treat your emotions in the same way. How do you do this?
Try Emotional Freedom. It’s a form of energy psychology. Think of it like acupuncture without the needles. Instead, you use your fingertips to transfer kinetic energy to specific points on your head and chest while you think through a problem or emotional pain and voice positive affirmations.
When you tap and voice the positive thoughts, you clear the emotional issue and restore your mind and body’s balance.
Here’s a video with EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman.
Reflecting on your anger and making small changes is the first step toward managing your anger and finding happiness.
5. Be kind to yourself
Once you recognize the causes of your anger, find ways to prevent it. That starts with being kind to yourself. Compassion goes a long way. If the anger log proves effective, use a compassion journal to hold yourself accountable.
Also, focus on you! Physical activity is an excellent way to release tension and resentment. Get enough sleep and eat well. Plus, experiment with tools to clear your mind. Try meditation or mindfulness to redirect yourself when a situation arises that hooks you!
Anything is possible when you set your mind to it. Just think of Susan Boyle. The Scottish singer rose to fame after her inspiring and moving rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” on Britain’s Got Talent TV show. At age 47, this ordinary woman unexpectedly launched a best-selling album.
Anything is possible when you put your mind to it! Be kind to yourself and believe in you!
6. Reach out to others
If you’re a frequent complainer, you may feel a bit isolated as others realize this.
“People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.”
~ Stephen Hawking
When you start to make an internal shift in your thinking, reach out to others and show off your updated self. Find someone with whom you can share your feelings and concerns. Sometimes that person may be in the most unlikely place.
In the Academy Award-nominated movie and international bestselling book “A Man Called Ove,” the isolated and angry widower had all but given up on life. Then, he unexpectedly connects and bonds with his neighbors. The story takes you on a journey of exploration about the connections we build with others and the impact they have. The movie drives home the point that nobody should be alone!
7. Let it go
Finally, let it go. Sometimes you just have to do this and it’s often liberating! You can walk away from the situation, agree to disagree or clear your mind with mindfulness or another relaxation technique.
“Holding on to pain, anger, guilt or shame is the glue that binds us to the situation we want to escape.”
– Iyanla Vanzant
When you dwell on a problem, it often leads to anger. So letting it go will help you move on from the situation and prevent your irritability from bubbling to the surface the next time there’s a trigger.
Anger has many faces – there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s a very human emotion, and it is unlikely it will ever go away.
So recognizing that reality and armed with facts and the power that knowledge brings, it’s now up to you to decide what you will do.
- Are you willing to be honest with yourself and authentic with others?
- Can you do the tough work of evolving your relationship with anger so you can tip the scales in favor of positive action?
- How will you be more compassionate with yourself so you can be more compassionate to others?
- Are you willing to let go and have faith there will be a next to catch you?
As you embark on this journey of managing your anger, I hope you’ll find a life filled with greater ease and a more powerful sense of well-being. There’s a sense of buoyancy that can come from laying down the heavy burden of the negative forces of energy and the activation of change that can come from leveraging your anger and transforming it into a positive force for good for you and the world. Never underestimate the ripple effect one small action can have. Start by taking a small step today!
(Personal Insight MD, LLC, PeopleTweaker, and Insight MD does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are feeling extreme anger with thoughts and actions harmful to yourself or others such as physical/verbal abuse or acts of violence, find yourself self-medicating with alcohol, illicit drugs, etc., expressing your anger in such a way that threaten relationships or your job, etc. seek professional help immediately and call 911 if necessary if you find yourself in an out-of-control situation or have the urge to hurt yourself or others.)