Managing Anger

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Anger is a normal healthy emotion, it is what we do with our anger that makes it an issue or not. It can energise us and enable us to be proactive and driven. It becomes an issue we need to manage if we allow our anger to control us or it becomes a destructive force in our lives.

Bottling up anger is unhealthy, it can be released through exercise, talking to someone and even writing about it, a sense of humour can sometimes help with putting things into perspective, a good belly laugh is a great release.

It is also important to work on assertiveness skills to enable yourself to speak up in a clear, confident, non-judgemental manner.

Here are some pointers to help you manage your anger:

  • Take responsibility for your feelings and behaviour
  • Know and understand your triggers:  This will help diffuse them, counselling can help with this.
  • Be strong, stay calm:  You lose control when you lose your temper, it takes strength to control yourself. If you can interrupt an intense angry impulse within the first 2 seconds you can regain control of yourself.  Do you have a stance of ‘I need to win’ or ‘I’m the good guy, he’s the bad guy’?  Situations are rarely that black and white.  Plan what you will do to press the pause button when anger feels intense e.g. walk away, count to ten, distract yourself, think of something that calms you, keep quiet/bite your tongue.
  • Know your physical signs of anger:  Notice when you begin to experience them and bring in your calming tactics.  What things might you try in order to stop your anger building from the early stages?  e.g. slow breathing, self talk- say calming words to yourself, exercise, talking to someone you trust, behave assertively
  • Don’t allow yourself to be provoked:  As this allows the other person to control you, if someone is pushing your buttons detach yourself from what they are saying.
  • Accept what you can’t change:  We can only change our own behaviour, we can communicate our perspective and feeling to others but we cannot control their behaviour.  If we don’t accept this it can lead to frustration.
  • Loose the tunnel vision:  The longer you have been holding resentment or feeling victimised the more you are likely to have acquired ‘tunnel vision’ and need to look at the bigger picture in order to consider your difficulty more objectively. Don’t allow yourself to become consumed by anger that has built up, this can isolate you.  Talking can help you regain perspective.
  • Notice your ‘Self talk’:  Beware of winding yourself up, by frequently going over the situation in your mind. This encourages ‘tunnel vision’. Mindfulness, noticing your thoughts and feelings and bringing yourself into the present moment, can help with this.
  • Assertiveness:  If you are feeling justifiably angry towards someone who is in your working or personal life, communicate with them assertively and from the hurt/disappointed side of yourself : this encourages open communication and seeks to understand the other person’s perspective. Whereas communicating from your angry side can be hurtful, blaming and destructive to the relationship
  • Exercise, relaxation and not taking yourself too seriously can also help you manage your anger

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Author: Liz Wright MIAHIP

Accredited member of the Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy I have been working as a counsellor and psychotherapist since 1999. My experience and training covers a wide range of areas, allowing me to provide the right therapy for you.

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