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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Understanding Anger – Part 2

7:44 PM Posted by Skyler Schuyler , , , ,
As we know, anger is a powerful emotion that can endanger your work, relationships and even your health. Managing anger effectively is important not only for self-care, but also within personal relationships. While experiencing anger is normal, coping strategies to reduce internal frustration can look very different for everyone. Looking to the experts in anger management, the following strategies are found to be the most effective when attempting to reduce internal frustration and anger directed outward.  

First, think before you act. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and to say exactly what’s on your mind. It takes far more practice and skill to take a moment and pause before speaking. Giving yourself and others around you time to gather thoughts can help deescalate frustrating situations. Once you are able to remain calm, it is important to express your frustration in a nonconfrontational manner. Being assertive without offending others can be challenging in itself. Expressing your anger appropriately takes time and practice, but soon you will be able to offer insight to your feelings without hurting or potentially insulting others.

When confronting a frustrating event, using ‘I’ statements can greatly reduce feelings of criticism. If a person feels blame is placed on them, it’s difficult for them to hear what you are saying. Using ‘I’ statements reduces the likelihood of someone becoming defensive in the moment and may give them a chance to listen to the feelings you are trying to express. For instance, “I’m upset when I come home and feel like I have to clean up the house by myself.” It’s also important to evaluate and identify as many possible solutions. When you start to feel anger build inside, ask yourself if what is making you mad could be changed with reframing your thoughts. If you burn dinner, can you make something else instead? If traffic is backed up, can you spend that extra time as self-reflection? If a room is messy, is it possible to shut the door for that day? Creative solutions and reframing frustrating moments can instantly change your outlook for the day.

Using humor is also an effective way to manage stress and reduce frustration. When you can lighten up a mood, tension will diffuse. Humor can help you look any possible unrealistic expectations that are driving your anger in the moment. However, tread lightly with sarcasm. Sarcasm has a tendency to escalate circumstances that already invoke irritability. Remember, forgiveness is powerful. If you hold a grudge towards others, the only person it truly impacts is yourself. Negative feelings you harbor towards others may go unnoticed, leaving you feeling bitter and possibly enraged. If you are able to, and can forgive, you may be surprised at how much both parties can learn from the situation.

Combating anger requires the use of relaxation skills and exercise. With flared tempers, relaxation strategies such as deep-breathing, reciting calming words or phrases, or listening to music can reduce irritability in the moment. The right song or choice of words may look different for each person, so it’s important to figure out what works best for you. This may take some time and practice, but is well worth the effort when you experience success. Movement and exercise can physically help reduce blood pressure, change chemicals released in the body and improve your mood. Try going for a brisk walk, yoga or playing a sport with friends to transfer negative energy and emotions into positive use.

Finally, take time out for yourself and know when to ask for help. It’s challenging in the heat of the moment to take a step back and give yourself space. Some scenarios that make us mad can be worse than others. Recognizing events that require additional space can save you time and energy. However, sometimes, no matter how much you try, you might need a little help. Seeking assistance from anger management counselors, social workers or therapists can help increase your coping strategies.

Anger is powerful, and it can be destructive. Do not let your anger control you. Find the right coping strategies that work for you. This may mean you might have to get creative, but that’s ok. Praise your efforts and remind yourself that anger did not get the best of you – because you made that choice.