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Serving North and South Santa Barbara County
ABOUT ANGER MANAGEMENT
Anger is a normal, healthy emotion, but when chronic, explosive anger spirals out of control, it can have serious consequences for your relationships, your health, and your state of mind. With insight about the real reasons for your anger and these anger management tools, you can learn to keep your temper from hijacking your life.
Understanding anger and anger management
The emotion of anger is neither good nor bad. Like any emotion, it’s conveying a message, telling you that a situation is upsetting, or unjust, or threatening. If your knee-jerk reaction to anger is to explode, however, that message never has a chance to be conveyed. So while it’s perfectly normal to feel angry when you’ve been mistreated or wronged, anger becomes a problem when you express it in a way that harms yourself or others. That’s where anger management comes in.
The aim of anger management isn’t to suppress feelings of anger but rather to understand the message behind the emotion and express it in a healthy way without losing control. When you do, you’ll not only feel better, you’ll also be more likely to get your needs met, be better able to manage conflict in your life, and strengthen your relationships. Mastering the art of anger management takes work, but the more you practice, the easier it will become.
Myths and facts about anger and managing it
Myth: I shouldn’t “hold in” my anger. It’s healthy to vent and let it out.
Fact: While it’s true that suppressing and ignoring anger is unhealthy, venting is no better. Anger is not something you have to “let out” in an aggressive way in order to avoid blowing up. In fact, outbursts and tirades only fuel the fire and reinforce your anger problem.
Myth: Anger, aggression, and intimidation help me earn respect and get what I want.
Fact: Respect doesn’t come from bullying others. People may be afraid of you, but they won’t respect you if you can’t control yourself or handle opposing viewpoints. Others will be more willing to listen to you and accommodate your needs if you communicate in a respectful way.
Myth: I can’t help myself. Anger isn’t something you can control.
Fact: You can’t always control the situation you’re in or how it makes you feel, but you can control how you express your anger. And you can express your anger without being verbally or physically abusive. Even if someone is pushing your buttons, you always have a choice about how to respond.
Anger management: why is it important?
Anger management tip 1: Explore what’s really behind your anger
Anger problems often stem from what you’ve learned as a child. If you watched others in your family scream, hit each other, or throw things, you might think this is how anger is supposed to be expressed.
Anger is often a cover-up for other feelings. In order to express your anger in appropriate ways, you need to be in touch with what you are really feeling. Is your anger masking other feelings such as embarrassment, insecurity, hurt, shame, or vulnerability?
If your knee-jerk response in many situations is anger, it’s likely that your temper is covering up your true feelings.
This is especially likely if you grew up in a family where expressing feelings was strongly discouraged. As an adult, you may have a hard time acknowledging feelings other than anger. Anger can also be a symptom of underlying health problems, such as depression, trauma, or chronic stress.
Clues that there’s more to your anger
You have a hard time compromising. Is it hard for you to understand other people’s points of view, and even harder to concede a point? If you grew up in a family where anger was out of control, you may remember how the angry person got his or her way by being the loudest and most demanding.
Everyone has those emotions so you may be using anger as a cover for them.
Reconnect with your emotions to manage anger. If you are uncomfortable with different emotions, disconnected, or stuck on an angry one-note response to situations, it’s important to get back in touch with your feelings.
Anger management tip 2: Recognize anger warning signs and triggers
Anger fuels the body’s “fight or flight”response so while you might feel that you just explode without warning, there are physical warning signs that your body is preparing to react. Recognizing these signs allows you to take steps to manage your anger before it boils over.
Identify negative thought patterns that trigger anger. You may think that external things—frustrating people or situations—are causing your anger. But anger problems have more to do with negative thinking patterns, such as having a rigid view of the way things should be and getting angry when reality doesn’t match up. Or maybe you overlook the positive things while letting small irritations mount? Or do you blame others for bad things that happen rather than taking responsibility for your own life?
Recognize situations that trigger anger.
Stressful events don’t excuse anger, but understanding how these events affect you can help you avoid unnecessary aggravation.
Anger management tip 3: Learn ways to diffuse anger
Once you recognize the warning signs, you can take steps to manage your anger before it spins out of control.
Anger management tip 4: Manage anger in the moment
In certain situations—an argument with your boss, for example—taking time out to go for a walk or hit the gym may not be practical. These tips can help you cool down in the moment:
Anger management tip 5: Know when to seek professional help (805) 845-2900
If you’ve tried these anger management techniques and your anger is still spiraling out of control, you may need more help. There are many therapists, classes, and programs for people with anger management problems. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
Consider professional help for anger management if:
IF YOUR PARTNER HAS ANGER MANAGEMENT ISSUES
You may feel like you’re constantly walking on eggshells, but remember you’re not to blame for your loved one’s anger management problem. And there’s no excuse for physically or verbally abusive behavior.
Dealing with a loved one’s anger management problem
While you can’t control another person’s anger, you can control how you respond to it:
ANGER IS NOT THE REAL PROBLEM IN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS
Despite what many believe, domestic violence and abuse is not due to the abuser’s loss of control over his temper, but a deliberate choice to control. If you are in an abusive relationship, know that your partner needs specialized treatment, not traditional anger management.
Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following warning signs and descriptions of abuse, reach out. There is help available.
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). Available for both women and men
Call our office today 805-845-2900