Anger Management

This page is information on Anger Management

Is it always bad to feel angry?
Physical effects
Emotional effects
Is there a healthy way to let out my angry feelings?
How can I deal with my angry feelings better?
Examine your behaviour patterns
Acknowledge past hurts
What should I do when I feel myself getting angry?
Walk away from situations
Resolve unfinished business

Is it always bad to feel angry?

Anger is a natural response to feeling attacked, injured or violated. It’s part of being human; it’s energy seeking expression. Our anger can be our friend as it helps us survive, giving us the strength to fight back or run away when attacked or faced with injustice. In itself, it’s neither good nor bad, but it can be frightening. It is not about feeling angry it is how we react to it and what we do with it.

Angry feelings can lead to destructive and violent behaviour, and so we tend to be frightened of anger. The way we are brought up and our cultural background will very much influence how we feel about expressing anger. You may have been punished for expressing it when you were small, or you may have witnessed your parents’ or other adults’ anger when it was out of control, destructive and terrifying. Or you may have been frightened by the strength of your own bad temper. All of this encourages you to suppress your anger. Culturally in the UK girls don’t do anger and boys don’t do sadness.

When something makes you angry, you feel excitement in your body and emotions. Your glands are pumping your blood full of the hormone adrenalin, preparing for fight or flight. You are full of energy, alert, ready for action, tension builds up, but is released when you express your anger. The release is good for you, helping to keep body and mind in balance and able to face life’s challenges. As long as the build-up of tension is usually released in action or words, you should be able to cope with feeling frustrated occasionally! But if, as a rule, you have to bottle up your feelings, the energy has to go somewhere. It may turn inwards and cause you all sorts of problems. Suppressed anger can have very negative effects, physically and mentally.

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Physical effects

Anger might affect your:

  • digestion (contributing to the development of heartburn, ulcers, colitis, gastritis or irritable bowel syndrome)
  • heart and circulatory system (leading to blocked arteries)
  • blood pressure (driving it too high)
  • joints and muscles (resulting in inflammations, such as in arthritis)
  • immune system (making you more likely to catch ‘flu and other bugs, and less able to recover from operations, accidents or major illnesses)
  • pain threshold (making you more sensitive to pain).
  • Freedom, if you lash out it could result in injuring another person affecting your freedom and criminal record, your relationship and your ability to work.

 

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 Emotional effects

These might include:

  • depression (when the anger is turned inwards)
  • addictions (to alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs)
  • compulsions (eating disorders, such as excessive dieting or binge-eating, overworking, unnecessary cleaning and any other behaviour that is out of control, including sexual activities)
  • bullying behaviour (trying to make someone else feel bad, because you think it will make you feel better)

All of these will damage relationships with other people, and this is likely to lower your self-esteem further and make you more depressed, angry etc.

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Is there a healthy way to let out my angry feelings?

It’s much healthier to recognise when you are feeling angry and to express it directly in words, not in violent action. Expressing anger assertively in this way:

  • benefits relationships and self-esteem
  • allows fuller and richer communication and intimacy
  • defuses tensions before they get to ‘explosion’ point
  • helps to keep people physically and mentally healthy.

Through therapy you can find a way to articulate your feelings of anger and enable your ability in the here and now to temper your past experiences. If you have spent a lifetime quashing your feelings, it will take time and effort to get into the habit of expressing anger in an assertive, but not aggressive way! Re defining boundaries and assertion may be a new experience.

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How can I deal with my angry feelings better?

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Examine your behaviour patterns

We will get to know your own pattern of behaviour and history around anger. What was your family like when you were growing up? Who got angry, and what happened when they did? If no-one was openly angry, what happened to resentments and differences of opinion or of needs?

What unspoken messages did you receive about anger? Think about these messages, and how they have affected your life. Do you still believe them? What do you think is possible for you now? Do you tend to bottle things up and get depressed, or do you tend to explode and be aggressive? How do you feel about your current pattern?

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Acknowledge past hurts

We will acknowledge angry feelings left over from the past especially your childhood. Nothing can change what happened to you but your attitude to it can change. Our relationship in the here and now can enable you to re parent, re experience and re decide. Past losses and injustices big or small, can rankle for years. Painful experiences may include being neglected by your parents, bitter rivalry with a brother or sister, the death of someone close, or growing up in exile.

You may think you have forgotten about them, that it’s pointless to think about the past. But if something suddenly happens to you in the present and your response to it is totally over the top, it may become clear that these feelings are not so dead after all! While you remain unaware of them, they can cause unnecessary problems. But if you can get to know them and yourself, you will have a chance of dealing more constructively with present situations.

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What should I do when I feel myself getting angry?

Stop and think, if at all possible! There is a traditional saying, which is very sound that goes: ‘Hold your breath and count to ten before you say anything.’

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Walk away from situations

It’s a good idea to ask yourself, ‘Am I so angry I can’t think?’, and, ‘Am I wanting to lash out and hit someone?’. If the answer to either of these is yes, then walk away from the situation. Tell the other person that you are too angry to speak to them at this moment, if you can. Go away somewhere to calm down. If necessary, let out the desire to lash out by hitting a cushion and shouting, screaming or making some kind of angry noise where it will not alarm anyone. We will look at how and more importantly how to recognise what’s happening before the anger gets out of hand.

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Resolve unfinished business

‘Why am I so angry?’ Finding the answer to this is important for the next step. Are you angry because of something that is happening now, that threatens you, your life, your loved ones, your work, someone or something that you value? In other words, is your anger justified and in proportion? Or is it that some of the anger that you feel is not really due to the person and situation that you are facing now, but to some unfinished business from the past?

If your anger turns out to be more to do with the past than the present, then think about how to address that before, or as well as, dealing with the current situation.

Enabling you to confront situations that you wouldn’t or couldn’t before in a here and now Adult manner without losing your temper will be a new and challenging experience full of its own rewards.

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