Anger Management

How to Effectively Manage Anger

Do you see red when you’re cut off in traffic? Do small, insignificant events bring on a feeling of rage? Just like any emotion, anger is a normal and valid part of life. For the most part, we’ve been conditioned to believe anger is a negative emotion that is to be avoided at all costs. The truth is, anger is important and deeply embedded into our biological makeup. Everyone gets angry sometimes. It is designed to ensure our survival and motivates us to solve problems and create change. However, constant feelings of anger could indicate a deeper problem. Consequently, if we lack the tools to express our anger in a healthy way, it mounts over time and begins to affect every facet of our lives. Anger itself is not considered a mental health condition, but it is a symptom of several. Below are a few mental health conditions where anger can show up.

The Origin of Anger

Untamed rage is powerful, and in many scenarios it can be highly destructive. Anger is considered a secondary emotion, which is a term for an emotional reaction fueled by other emotions. It’s often compared to an iceberg. It may be visible, but under the surface are a host of other emotions, like sadness, guilt, shame, or fear. We often use it as a tool to protect us from vulnerability. It’s easier to claim that we’re mad at someone than it is to admit that we’re hurt and risk our vulnerability being weaponized against us. If left to its own devices, anger can trigger mental health issues. If you struggle with managing your anger, it’s important to understand the purpose of it and get curious about where yours might be coming from.

Signs That Anger Has Become a Problem

Maybe it’s clear what is causing your anger, but in many cases, people feel angry for no apparent reason. For example, you might impulsively react to something with anger and later ask yourself “why did I get so mad?” If that sounds familiar, then there’s a good chance that something else is going on. If you’re not sure, here are a few telltale signs that it’s time to seek help.

Different Types of Anger

Healthy Ways to Manage and Cope with Anger

Anger doesn’t have to be your enemy. In fact, chronic forms of anger are usually a message that there’s something beneath the surface that needs healing. Instead of fearing and avoiding your anger, work on learning how to sit with it. Below are 3 proactive steps you can take before you end up in the heat of the moment.

Recognize Warning Signs

Before your anger sets in, you’ll probably clench your jaw, sweat, shake, and your heart will race. If you can catch the signs early on, you’ll have time to react and decide your next steps instead of acting on impulse.

Step Away

Unless there’s a life-or-death situation, start learning how to implement a time-out period before you respond to a trigger. This is the most effective way to avoid making the situation worse and doing something you regret.

Move Your Body

Blowout anger is usually a full body experience. It’s an energy that needs to be processed. Whether by shaking, lifting weights, or even dancing, moving your body will help release the tension you’re feeling.

Implementing The STOP Method

Suppressed or uncontrolled anger leaves us feeling powerless and resentful. Rest assured, you don’t have to be a victim to your impulses forever. There are plenty of ways to cope with anger. For now, I will leave you with a popular mindfulness method used in cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. The STOP method is a four-step checklist that can be performed anywhere and gives yourself a chance to take a break before a situation gets out of hand.

S: Stop

Stop what you are doing. Freeze instead of reacting. Stay in control.

T: Take a break

This can be mental and physical. Notice your breathing and avoid letting your feelings make you act on impulse.

O: Observe

Acknowledge what is going on internally and externally. What are you feeling and thinking?

P: Proceed Mindfully

Now that you’ve checked in with yourself, you can carry on mindfully, and decide your next step from an emotionally aware place.

Need Guidance?

Finding a way to deal with your anger in a way that works for you is a process. As unique individuals, we must spend time experimenting if we are to figure out what’s effective. It’s helpful to have a trained counselor or therapist to consult with to discover the right technique or strategy.

Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.

Author
Dr. Michael Messina

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