Anger is one of the four primary emotions and has a very good purpose of alerting us to our boundaries being crossed by others. It serves us well when it’s expressed in a healthy way. However, when anger becomes screaming, ranting, raving, or becoming physical with another person, you may have a problem. People who struggle with anger management issues usually know who they are as they have suffered the consequences internally and from others reactions time and time again. Clearly, anger can be very damaging. So what do you do if you realize you might have an anger problem? What are some steps you can take right away to start to decrease the damage you have been doing to yourself and others?
Here are 3 anger management tools:
- Identify what triggers your anger: People usually have specific triggers to their anger – subjects, feelings or ways they’re perceiving an event. Start to get serious about identifying what your triggers are. This is the first step to getting a handle on your anger.
- Notice your physical cues: Problematic anger usually involves fight-or-flight, a biological response to acute stress. People have different physical cues to rising anger and it can be very useful to know what your specific physical cues are like rapid heart beat, headache, clenching fists. If you’re aware of the signs you body is sending indicating a ramp-up, you’ll have a better chance to slow it down.
- Use a Self Imposed Time-Out if Needed: The idea is to avoid the big blow-up and further the damage to yourself (guilt, shame) and others (fear, physical harm). If you know what your triggers and physical cues are to your anger you can practice removing yourself from the situation to calm yourself down, physically and emotionally. If you are with your partner when this happens, let him/her know you are taking a “time-out” and will be back in a certain amount of time. This is done so your partner doesn’t feel abandoned in that moment. Take the time to breathe slowly in and out, review and reframe the event.
Anger management takes practice and it will likely take time to see improvement. But patience and consistency can bring high yield and ultimately more peace to yourself and do less damage to those around you.