In this blog I am going to explain 5 steps to help you to deal with your anger.
Anger is an unpleasant emotion to experience and to be on the receiving end of. It can damage relationships and reputations and leave all involved feeling anxious and depressed and angry.
However, anger serves an important function, it alerts us to mistreatment and injustice so in this sense it is vital to our survival. This means our aim cannot be to get rid of anger, instead we must try to understand, control and express it better.
Here are 5 steps to help you to do that.
1. Remove yourself from the source.
Get good at predicting when you are going to lose your temper so that you can get away from whatever or whoever is making you angry before any damage is done. Often physical sensations precede an angry outburst so watch out for faster breathing, a racing heart, feeling hot and tingling sensations in your hands and feet. When our body is flooded with the adrenalin that accompanies anger it is impossible to make good decisions. Away from the trigger for your anger you will be able to calm down, think more clearly and follow the steps below.
2. Work out what you are thinking.
How we feel, in this case angry, is determined by how we think, so try and identify what was going through your mind just before you started to get angry e.g. they aren’t listening to me because they don’t respect or care about me.
3. Is your anger a cover for another feeling?
It is common to feel angry as a way of coping with another emotion, basically because you can direct your anger away from yourself and on to another person or thing. Unlike anxiety for example, which you just must feel. Anger, in it’s pure form, has been designed by nature to alert us to mistreatment so if the thought that precedes your anger relates to this continue to No.4. BUT be careful how you define mistreatment, ‘mistreatment’ in this case means that you are in physical or emotional danger, not being respected or cared for (as an adult) does not constitute this. If you suspect that your anger is covering something else (as in my example in No. 2) continue straight to No 5.
4. If you are in physical or emotional danger your anger is serving the important function of protecting you so, get support and take action to keep yourself safe.
5. It is likely that your anger is a cover for another emotion, usually anxiety or depression so look at the thought that precedes the anger and try and work out if it is an anxious thought (e.g. overestimating that something bad might happen and then underestimating your ability to cope with this) or a depressed thought (e.g. a self-criticism or a judgement about your own helplessness and hopelessness now and in the future). If you can deal with the emotion that underlies your anger you will find that you stop losing your temper, feel calmer and more confident and therefore be better able to express what you need in a situation.
Here are some self-help resources to help you to deal with anxiety and depression. If you feel you need more support than these offer you may consider seeking professional help in the form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), currently the most effective treatment available for anxiety and depression.