I decided to write a blog post about how to control anger because ‘anger management’ is one of the most common problems clients come to me wanting help with, in fact, it is probably the most common. When I began researching the post I came across a report on anger; ‘Boiling Point’ produced by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) back in 2008, which 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.
anger management’ is one of the most common problems clients come to me wanting help with…
I was shocked to learn that the statistics were so high and there were so many people who’s lives were affected by their anger. So, below is a guide explaining how to control your anger and I’ll be sharing some of the ways I have helped many clients handle their own anger problems.
In this post I will explain:
- what anger is and why does it matter?
- how to identify what makes you angry.
- how to identify why those things make you angry.
- step by step, how to control your anger.
- how to stay on top of your anger.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
What is anger and why does it matter?
Anger is a natural emotion, that is part of our survival instinct. When we feel threatened, a part of the brain called ‘the Amygdala’, prepares the body for action and we get ready to fight what is trying to harm us. Without this early warning system, we probably wouldn’t be here in the 21st century, with the human race being extinct as a result of being eaten by bigger, stronger, quicker predators, millions of years ago!
“The best fighter is never angry.”lAO tZU
While anger can keep us safe, it simply isn’t acceptable to treat everyone as though they are going to kill you! Like all our emotions, we have to learn to control our anger. The difference with anger, unlike our other emotions, is that anger makes other people around us feel threatened, frightened, resentful and indeed, angry themselves, so it important for us to control our anger if we are going to maintain the relationships in our lives.
What makes you angry?
Whether someone has told you, “you need to control your anger more” or “you get wound up easily” or you’ve noticed that you feel angry or frustrated yourself, the first thing you need to do is to establish what makes you angry.
Everyone is different so write a list of things that make you angry. This could include things people say to you like being told you’re wrong or maybe when people ignore you, you get angry. You might find that the drive to work makes you angry, or perhaps its a person, your partner, or maybe your boss.
Getting it down on paper will help you focus on the things that make you angry and give you a place to start tackling the problem.
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Why does it make you angry?
Now you have an idea of some of the things that make you angry, you need to spend some time on why they make you angry. The reasons you feel angry are going to be personal to you and it might be difficult to admit to yourself why they make you angry, so take your time. Here are some steps to follow to help you work out why things make you angry:
Find a time and place you won’t be disturbed. No mobile phones, no televisions, and nothing that is going to distract you, including other people in the house and noises outside.
You might have to wait until the kids are at school and the other half is at work but it’s important that there are as few distractions as possible.
Clearly, during the Coronavirus outbreak, getting some quiet is much harder than usual and indeed, this might be something that is making you angry in itself so what’s important here is that you find somewhere where you can think clearly. If needs must, you could do this sat on the loo, perhaps with some peaceful music playing through some earphones to block out noisy distractions.
Clearly, during the Coronavirus outbreak, getting some quiet is much harder than usual and indeed, this might be something that is making you angry in itself so what’s important here is that you find somewhere where you can think clearly.
If needs must, you could do this sat on the loo, perhaps with some peaceful music playing through some earphones to block out noisy distractions.
Sit comfortably, close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
Relax your body and let go of any tension.
As you begin to relax, you’ll be giving your mind the chance to present what’s troubling you. It might be something on your list or it could be something else. Let the thought’s enter and try to spend 5 to 10 minutes on what come’s to mind.
It’ll take practice to stay with your thoughts so don’t worry if you have trouble focusing, it will come.
Don’t try to force the thoughts to come back if you lose track, this will only frustrate you even further. If you want to carry on, come back to focusing on your breathing and give the thoughts the chance to come again.
It’ll take practice to stay with your thoughts so don’t worry if you have trouble focusing, it will come. Don’t try to force the thoughts to come back if you lose track, this will only frustrate you even further. If you want to carry on, come back to focusing on your breathing and give the thoughts the chance to come again.
“Tomorrow’s victory is today’s practice.”Chris Bradford, The Way of the Warrior
It’s important to point out you might not like what comes to mind and you may not agree with them but try to accept them and be open to exploring what comes to mind. For example, you might have a thought that say’s something like “you’re angry because you’re jealous”. Rather than pushing the thought away and dismiss it, try to accept it for what it is, a thought and try to explore it. “Am I jealous”? “What exactly am I jealous of”? Etc.
Write down anything that feels relevant. You will hopefully have gained some insight into what it is that is making you angry and it’s useful to record it.
Staying on top of your anger
One you’ve begun to work out what makes you angry and how it makes you angry, it’s important that you stay on top of your anger. Practice steps 1 to 5 as often as you can, everyday if it is possible.
You can use this technique to work on something making you angry in the present such as an argument with your partner. You can also use this technique to work on something that’s been troubling you longer term such as anger towards a relative who has passed away, for example.
What’s important is that you learn to listen to your mind and trust your feelings.
Today we’ve learnt how to recognise the things that make us angry, why they make us angry and how we can control our anger and stay on top of it. I hope this helps you and please feel free to look at some of my other blog posts.