What are anger management issues?
It’s normal to feel angry from time to time. Anger is a human emotion that helps us to cope with difficult situations and can be motivating in some cases. But when anger is out of control, it can lead to negative consequences. But what are anger management issues?
‘Anger issues’ is one of the most common problems clients come to me wanting help with, in fact, it is probably the most common. A report on anger; ‘Boiling Point’ produced by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) back in 2008, found that (of the 2000 people surveyed):
- 32% of people say they have a close friend or family member who has trouble controlling their anger.
- 12% have trouble controlling their own anger.
- 28% worry about how angry they sometimes feel.
- 1 in 5 people have ended a relationship or a friendship because of how they behaved when they were angry.
- 64% agree that people are getting angrier.
If you’re struggling to manage your anger, here are 7 tips that may help you control your anger:
1. Understand your triggers.
Triggers are the external and internal stimuli that cues an individual to do something such as take drugs or get angry, for example. Common triggers include people, places, things, and emotions. A trigger is anything that sets off a stress response in your body. When trying to manage your anger, it is important to be aware of your triggers and have a plan for how to deal with them.
And there are two types of triggers:
External triggers are people, places, things, and events that cue you to get angry, for example.
Internal triggers are thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations that cue you to struggle to maintain control of your anger.
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston S. Churchill
External triggers are usually easier to avoid than internal triggers. However, both types of triggers can be effectively managed with the right tools and support and can help you with anger management issues.
If you are trying to learn to manage your anger, it is important to be aware of your triggers and have a plan for how to deal with them. Everyone has different triggers, so it’s important to take some time to identify what yours are. Once you know what your triggers are, you can start to find ways to avoid or manage them.
There are a few different ways to identify your anger triggers. One way is to keep an anger diary. For a week or two, write down every time you feel angry. Include what was happening at the time, how you felt physically and emotionally, and what you did to manage the anger. After a few weeks, you should start to see patterns emerge and gain a better understanding of your anger management issues. You can discuss your findings about your anger with a counsellor too.
Another way to identify your triggers is to pay attention to your body. When you feel yourself starting to get angry, take a few minutes to notice what you’re feeling. You’ll probably find you’ll be experiencing some of these sensations:
- Knots in your stomach
- Clenching your fists or jaw
- Feeling clammy or flushed
- Breathing faster
- Pacing or walking quicker
- “Seeing red”
- Difficulty concentrating
- Heart beating fast or pounding
- Tensing your shoulders
2. Communicate assertively, not aggressively.
When communicating with others, it is important to be assertive, not aggressive. Assertiveness means being clear and direct in your communication, without being rude or confrontational, or getting angry. It is the ability to express your ideas and needs in a way that is respectful of others.
Aggressive communication, on the other hand, is characterised by intimidation, put-downs, and threats. It is important to avoid aggressive communication, as it is likely to escalate the situation and lead to conflict.
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If you find yourself in a situation where you need to communicate assertively, remember to:
- Be clear and concise in your communication
- Listen to the other person’s point of view
- Respect the other person’s boundaries
- Avoid insulting or demeaning the other person
- Speak calmly and confidently
3. Use “I” statements to help with anger management issues.
Beginning a phrase with “I” enables us to discuss tough emotions, explain how the issue is impacting you and avoids placing blame on others and getting angry with them. It makes us accountable for our own thoughts and emotions. This tends to be perceived by others as less antagonistic, allowing for further discussion and the chance of a solution. For example, saying “I feel angry” is less confrontational and likely to elicit a more positive response than “You make me angry”.
In the end, I statements can present a problem as something that needs to be discussed and resolved with your partner, for example, rather than as a criticism of them or a personal assault.
It takes time, effort, and repetition to effectively model a new communication style. Try the following practice exercise to help you develop new habits around how you communicate with others if you find it difficult to remember to use “I” statements in real-time when you’re in the middle of a disagreement or heated discussion:
Talk for three to five minutes about a subject you truly enjoy, beginning each phrase with an “I” declaration. You can try this out in front of the mirror or with a friend, partner, or member of your family.
“Goal setting is the secret to a compelling future.” — Tony Robbins
4. Be aware of your body language.
Did you know that before you verbally express your anger, your body language frequently does the same? It’s as much what you say as what you do which may make people believe you have anger management issues
You may already be aware of this, but many people frequently fail to do so. For this reason, it is crucial to understand non-verbal communication and how it might impact your relationships.
How often have you cut someone off in conversation because they were making you angry?
Numerous times, I’m sure, as this is a typical example of nonverbal communication.
Other non-verbal forms of communication include:
- The duration of your eye contact with someone
- Your actions
- The way you stand or sit
- How close you stand next to someone
- The loudness of your voice.
Have you ever been accused of giving someone conflicting signals?
When this happens, your words and actions may not always seem to add up.
The person on the other end feels confused and uncertain about your feelings as a result. Additionally, since you never mean what you say, this may cause people to lose faith in you.
If you have a tendency to get angry, you might frequently make pointed gestures, raise your voice, and choose to sit alone.
This type of behaviour will simply make others around you feel uncomfortable.
“He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior.” — Confucius
It would be better if you first understood how to improve your actions in order to lessen your non-verbal communication. To do this, practice speaking in a quieter voice, move closer to your companion and maintain eye contact.
Try not to wave your arms around or use your hands to communicate while you learn to manage your movements. Many people engage in this without even being aware of it.
Consider practising in front of a mirror. This will help you to see how you look when you’re angry. Flailing your arms, for example, may come across as confrontational, and being aware of it will help you to stop doing it.
With a little practise, each of these things can be worked on. Once you get this under control, you won’t always come across as being angry.
You might even notice that your own level of anger decreases. Amazingly, just knowing that others view you in this way can make you calmer!
Remember that you can express your anger with your body language as well as words. In the end, working on your body language will make you feel less inclined to express your rage out loud.
5. Take a timeout.
Most people are unaware of when and how to exit a heated discussion without adding insult to injury.
Instead, they prolong the conflict, which increases the risk of verbal or physical violence and both parties getting angrier and angrier. This often results in name-calling, arguing and excessive blame.
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You can keep yourself and your loved ones safe when you know when and how to leave a situation.
It is known as a time-out.
The majority of us have used it with our children, but adults also benefit greatly from it! It gives you a justification to leave the situation so you may calm down.
People can be kept safe by timeouts. Leaving the situation by itself won’t make a difference; it’s how you leave that counts. The steps for a successful time-out are listed below.
How to Take a Timeout
Know when you are starting to feel angry. Rapid heartbeat, sweating, feeling tense, irritated, or confused are a few signs that you’re getting angry, as are thinking negatively and placing blame on others.
Keep an eye out for your triggers. Make a list of the circumstances that make you angry. Common triggers include feeling unheard or judged. Try to be objective in this situation.
To deal with the upset, make a plan. Determine what you need. Does phoning a friend or going for a walk help? Would writing in a notebook be more relaxing than listening to music?
The most efficient way to use the time-out is to separate yourself. The argument will probably continue if you stay in the same room as the other person.
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” — Henry Ford
Before utilising the time-out, go over it with your partner. Talk about how you’ll manage the time-out. For example, you could say something like “I’ll go for a walk if I start to feel angry. I’ll be back in a half-hour.” If trust has been betrayed, your partner can may act defensive. Avoid being defensive too. Validate their viewpoint instead. Even if you don’t agree, it is very effective to demonstrate that you understand why they’re angry or upset.
Plan out your break. Identify a safe location and take no more than 20 to 30 minutes (to prevent it from turning into leisure time). If you can, go out of the house to stop the argument from escalating.
Time-outs are an effective approach to vent your feelings and normalise anger so that you don’t lose control and explode.
Even though it’s common to get angry, if you can recognise it early on, you’ll have a better chance of controlling your anger management issues so that you and everyone else around you stay safe.
6. Practice relaxation techniques to combat anger management issues.
Below are a couple of really helpful relaxation techniques that will help you control your anger issues. In order for these strategies to have any chance of having a beneficial impact on your life, you must be dedicated to actually using and practising them. If you simply use them occasionally, you won’t see the benefit of them
Controlled deep breathing for anger issues
When you feel emotionally aroused, your breathing and pulse rate both quicken. By consciously slowing your breathing and/or relaxing your stiff muscles, you can learn to stop these rises. By relaxing in this way, you can keep your emotions under control.
When you are agitated, you may notice that your breathing becomes hurried and shallow. Your anger will only grow if you continue to breathe shallowly, only from your chest. Instead, take steps to slow your breathing down and to unwind your muscles in order to calm down. Give yourself at least 15 minutes to complete this exercise. Less time than this is probably not going to be helpful!
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” – Muhammad Ali
- Start by taking several calm, deep breaths in succession, making sure to exhale for twice as long as you inhale with each breath.
- Count slowly to four as you breathe in, and then breathe out slowly as you count to eight.
- Be mindful of the air filling your lungs while you do this. Breathe deeply and completely through your open lungs.
- Breath should enter your abdomen, chest, and upper chest right below your shoulders in that order.
- As your lungs grow, feel your ribs enlarge as well.
- Pay attention to how your ribs reposition themselves as you totally exhale.
- If you ever feel dizzy or out of breath, stop the exercise.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation for dealing with anger
Follow the steps below to help alleviate your anger issues.
- The stressed muscles should be tensed and tightened slowly before being released. If you experience any pain, be careful to release your clenched muscles right away and stop the exercise.
- While inhaling, contract a muscle group, your calves, for example, for between 5 and 10 seconds. Then exhale and release the tension in the muscle group. Relax for between 10 and 20 seconds and then do the same for the next muscle group. For example, tense your calves and release them and then move on to your thighs.
- You can move down your entire body in a few minutes with a little practise. Your ability to relax can occasionally be improved by first tensing and then relaxing your muscles.
You should give yourself a total of 20 to 30 minutes to relax. Throughout this period, maintain very regular, deep breathing. You will soon feel considerably calmer if you tell yourself that you are calming yourself down. Trying to imagine your muscles relaxing can be helpful too.
Relaxation methods like those mentioned above can aid in your relaxation and, as a bonus, aid in your ability to shift your attention away from being angry. Additionally, they allow you time to reflect on the upsetting event, which will enable you to come up with original answers to the issues you are now facing.
7. Speak to a professional about your anger management issues.
Talking therapy and counselling entail discussing your issues with a qualified professional (such a counsellor or psychotherapist, like me) who can assist you in examining the reasons behind your anger and developing coping mechanisms. This can assist you in processing your emotions and enhancing how you react in heated situations.
There are numerous varieties of talking therapies, some of which are especially suited to anger management problems. Here are two ways that I can help you with your anger management issues.
- Counselling is typically a brief form of therapy where you can discuss a particular problem, such having angry outbursts or struggling to manage anger, and try to understand how you might handle those situations differently.
- In comparison to counselling, psychotherapy frequently lasts longer and tends to delve deeper into the past. Here, you might put more of an emphasis on self-discovery to better understand why you react in particular ways to situations or how you express your anger. For example, we might look at how your parents expressed anger or managed their anger and if there’s any habits that you’ve developed as a result of a learnt behaviour from them.
Getting assistance if your anger management issue is causing you to act violently or abusively can be life changing for both you, your family and the other people around you. Even though you might be concerned that asking for help might make you look “weak”, it’s frequently the crucial first step in changing your behaviour. As an experienced counsellor and psychotherapist, I can help you with your anger management issues and help give you back the control in your life. Contact me today for more information and to book an appointment.