Identifying an anger management problem is one of the easiest emotional obstacles to diagnose. You do not need any special tests to know you have an anger issue. There are millions of people that suffer from not being able to control their anger or patience, but you can get it under control on your own without the need to see a professional.
Understand Your Anger
Anger is an emotion that is completely natural and healthy to feel. You should get angry from time to time, it is only normal. Getting mad from time to time is perfectly fine and nothing to be ashamed of or feel like you have to hide.
When your anger becomes a serious problem is when it begins to affect your life and those around you. What you do with your anger is what defines it as either a healthy or unhealthy emotion. When your anger starts to hurt either yourself or anyone around you, then it is a condition that needs to be treated.
People that suffer from the inability to manage their anger may feel like they have no control over what many call the ‘beast’. They transform into a completely different person that is unrecognizable to their friends and family and they often hurt those around them, both emotionally and physically. When you feel like you have lost all hope and submit to your anger, then you begin to rationalize in your own mind that there is no help and you are just going to be angry forever.
It is helpful to know that once you ‘get’ your anger and understand that it is just another emotion much like happiness or sadness, you can start to take charge and get your life back on track.
You should always remember that while you may feel helpless now, there is much you can do to start to learn how to convey your emotions in a way that is healthy and does not hurt those around you.
Why Anger Management is Vital
When you learn to show your emotions in a healthy way and also when it is appropriate to show anger, you will be able to lead a normal, healthy life. You will be able to have a closer bond with friends and family because they will want to be around you more, and you can get on the right track towards the life you have been craving while living under the cloud of your anger.
There are four main categories in which having excessive anger hurts you. These are mentally, physically, socially, and in your career/school life.
Mentally: Having continual anger towards everyone and everything around you can begin to alter your mental state in many ways. Your anger makes you believe that your actions are acceptable and even justified. You can have difficulties in concentrating on simple tasks, enjoying virtually anything in life, and reaching your goals due to cloudiness of thoughts and lack of motivation. Anger problems have also been proven in the medical field to cause severe depression as well as high stress, which can lead to other physical problems.
- Physically: Due to the high levels of stress and raging hormone levels, your body is put through the ringer from ceaseless anger. Possible physical side effects include: weakened immune system, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep disorders, eating disorders, and diabetes. These possible results of constant anger can lead to other serious health consequences such as heart disease, obesity, and stroke.
- Socially: As a person that is always angry, you will begin to isolate yourself from everyone around you, even if you do not want to. Family, friends, and even acquaintances will no longer want to be around a person that they have to always watch what they say or do around. Lashing out on the people that love and care about you the most leaves lasting effects that they cannot easily forget. It will make those around you begin to feel uncomfortable in your presence, and lose trust in you completely. Over time they will block you out of their lives to protect themselves.
- On the Job/At School: If you are a person that is easily upset and made angry, eventually it will begin to affect you at work or school. You will lose respect of your co-workers, boss, friends, and peers. Having a bad temper can cause you to easily lose your job, which can then affect you on your next job hunt as you will not have a positive reference from that workplace.
As you can see, there are no facets of your life that your anger will not touch. It will affect you in each and every possible way, eroding away at you until you cannot take it any longer and result to drastic measures.
Step 1: Eliminate Excuses
The first thing you need to do is get rid of all of the excuses that are holding you back from healing. Everyone with anger problems have excuses on why they cannot get it under control and quit their destructive behavior.
- “I can’t control it or keep myself from doing it.” One of the biggest excuses is that you cannot do anything about it on your own. This is a lie that you are telling yourself so you do not have to do the work required. Remind yourself everyday that you can take control of how you show your anger and you can do it in a healthy manner. No matter what situation you are put in, there is always a choice and a decision on how you react and express yourself.
- “I need to be tough to get respect.” There is a fine line between being tough to earn respect and being downright hateful and mean through your anger. You do not need to place your anger on people or things in order to earn respect. More often than not, you are actually losing respect through your actions. Being a bully is not going to earn you respect, only a bad reputation.
- “I need to vent, it’s healthy.” It is healthy to get your emotions out and you should never hold them in. However, there is a huge difference in letting out your anger through a healthy outlet and an unhealthy outlet. Showing your anger through outbursts is actually retroactive and instead of making you feel better about having gotten your anger out, can make you even angrier and cause more harm than good.
- “No one cares anyway.” The truth is that more than likely there are people in your life that do actually care and would love to see you healthy and free of your outbursts and brutality. Once you realize that you can have a support system if you reach out for one, the faster you will be able to heal. When you tell friends and family that you are trying to reform and change your ways, they will be more willing to be around you again to help you on your journey if you are going to help yourself.
Step 2: Investigate and Analyze Your Triggers
In majority of anger cases, there is always a factor that your anger has stemmed from. Such factors include severe levels of stress, traumatic events, feeling unable to express true feelings, and witnessing or living in an angry environment as a child.
When you can identify the root cause of your anger, you can start to heal. If you go through life without trying to get to the root of your anger problem, you will never be able to get it under control.
To be able to begin to manage your anger, you need to examine possible causes of your anger. When you have identified your triggers you can alter those to learn to express yourself in a healthy way.
Say that you use your anger as an emotional cover-up. Being honest with yourself and admitting this can be a difficult step, but it is a necessary one. If you are in a situation where you are feeling nervous, embarrassed, or insecure and your first reaction is to show anger, it is likely you are covering up your real emotions. This can often stem from growing up in a family where it was frowned upon to show your emotions, or where you had parents that were angry all of the time and never showed their own emotions, so that is the only emotion you were able to emote.
While most people think that only outside forces can attribute to their anger, such as an annoying friend or stressful job, there are also internal triggers that you can bring upon yourself. These include constantly finding someone or something else to place all the blame on, and always jumping to conclusions. Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy when it comes to your anger problem. If you can single out these types of damaging thoughts, you can learn to turn them off and stop living in denial or in belief that only others are the cause of your anger.
Getting in touch with your true feelings is an important step to realizing your true potential and starting to alter the way you feel about acceptable ways to show your anger.
Step 3: Stopping Anger Before It Starts
If you feel like there is no control over your anger because it just comes out of the blue, you are misinformed and that is only another excuse. In reality when you are exposed to one of your triggers, your body exhibits warning signs that you are about to start feeling severe levels of anger and possibly have an outburst. Learning to detect those warning signs and recognize when they are arising, you can stop your anger before it becomes out of control.
Classic warning signs that your anger is arising include:
- Problems concentrating on anything other than your feelings
- Increased heart rate
- Increased breathing
- Clenching jaw or hands into fists
- Feeling tense in muscles
- Need to move around
- Knots in stomach
- Feeling hot, especially in the face
When you feel these symptoms, you can start immediately with managing your anger before having an outburst.
Another way to stop anger before it starts is by completely avoiding your triggers. For a period of time while you are still trying to get it under control, you should avoid all triggers if possible. Take the time to recognize certain things, places, or people that bring out your anger. If you always get angry around a certain group of friends, or there is a certain bar where situations always bring out the worst in you, try to stay away from them at least until you feel like you can keep your cool.
Step 4: Finding Ways To Tame the Beast
Now that you know your excuses, triggers, and warning signs, you have a one-up on your anger. Now that you know what to expect out of your anger, you can learn methods to use to decrease your anger in the moment.
You can actively reduce your anger in a hurry by using these techniques:
- Deep breathing: When your blood pressure is rising and your heart rate is accelerated, you can counteract those symptoms of anger by using some deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing physically forces your body to relax and calm down. Take some slow, deep breaths until you feel like you are calmed and at peace.
- Count slowly: When you take the time to slowly count, your mind has time to re-focus and determine whether or not you legitimately have something to be angry about. You also are able to take your mind off of the thing that is making you angry and cool down faster. Count as high as you need to in order to calm down.
- Exercise: If you are able, jump on a treadmill, go for a swim, run in place, or go for a power walk. All of these things allow you to clear your mind while getting your pent-up energy out at the same time.
- Relax: Start some stretching exercises or use a personal massager to pamper yourself and really relax. As you relax you will feel the anger leaving your body.
- Listen to Music: Music is one of the best therapeutic tools we have. Keep something on you at all times that has music on it, such as an MP3 player or your cellphone, as well as some headphones. Have tracks loaded that you know will cool you down, put you in a better mood, remind you of a happy moment, and allow you to relax.
Once you have used your cooling down techniques, you can then start to think about the situation that made you angry. Chances are that once you have calmed down, the situation can be examined without getting angry again, and you will be able to be rational. Review the situation by examining:
- If you had a legitimate reason to get mad
- If it was something important to get mad over
- If you acted in an appropriate manner
Step 4: Learn to Express Your Anger Healthily
While it is not healthy to have chronic anger, it is also not healthy to hold it all in. You should be able to express your anger, but you have to learn how to do it in a manner that is constructive and helpful to your healing.
First you need to determine exactly what you are mad about. Sometimes if you get excessively angry the argument or outburst can turn into being about something it didn’t originally start off as. You should keep things on-topic. Say out loud ‘I am mad about ____’. It is healthy to let others around you know what they have done to make you mad. Talk to them about what can be done differently in the future. Chances are they are going to agree with you and apologize for making you mad in the first place. All of this is healthy conflict resolution that can have a positive outcome.
Learn to forgive others that have made you mad. It is a fact of life that those around us are going to hurt us eventually, and most of the time it is unintentional. If you have a friend that is constantly commenting on a flaw of yours, maybe they think it is funny and that it isn’t bothering you. So you take that anger, hold it inside at the moment, then have a severe outburst that can be damaging. If friends or family don’t know that they are causing this anger, they cannot fix their own behaviors.
Besides communicating effectively with those around you, you can also express your anger through other outlets. Take up a sport or other activity that keeps you moving. Kick-boxing is a popular activity among those with chronic anger. Choose your activity based on your personal interests and what calms you down and allows you to access yourself and feel better about the progress you are making.
You also have to learn to let things go. Everyone isn’t always going to agree with you or your viewpoint, and it is not something you can control. When you cannot control the outcome of a situation or other people’s views, you should turn the other cheek and move on from the situation.
Be Patient With Yourself and Know When You Need Help
Know that overcoming an anger problem is not an easy task. It takes a lot of willpower and a support system to overcome an anger problem on your own, especially if you have had chronic anger for a long period of time. Do not give up on yourself no matter what obstacles you encounter during the process.
Recognize when you have been trying on your own and your anger is still overcoming you no matter what you have tried. It is not a sign of failure, only that you may need more assistance to help you get over your anger problems. You should always reach out first to family and friends to build your support system.
If you are still not getting the results you need, you should then reach out within your community to find out about programs, clinics, and therapists that may be able to help you through therapies and classes. Often communicating with others going through the same thing as you can help you see that you are indeed not alone in your struggle. Others going through anger management can also give you more methods to try on controlling your anger.
No matter where your anger started or how long you have had it, there is a light at the end and you can overcome it.