What is Anger?
As humans we face a variety of emotions, but the key to handling these emotions is to practice balance. Anger is a well-known emotion that everyone feels, and it can be a normal and healthy emotion when shown appropriately. When anger begins to get out of control it can become destructive and lead to problems in your personal life, work life, relationships, and the overall quality of your life.
Our emotions are not limited to our inner selves and they play a big role in our interactions with others. When anger gets out of control it is important to find ways to understand what you are feeling and why. Anger is an emotion that is linked to the bodies psychological state and physiological state.
From a biological aspect anger is a natural response to threats, it is a powerful and aggressive behavior that allows us to fight or defend ourselves when we feel threatened. Anger is a necessary emotion in surviving, but it can provide a problem when it starts to consume your everyday life.
There are both conscious and unconscious ways to help you handle stress and anger: expressing your anger, suppressing your anger, and calming your anger. One of the healthiest ways to deal with anger is to express the feelings in an assertive manner.
What are the Signs of Anger Management Problems?
Feelings of intense anger, frustration or violent outburst can be tied to many different lifestyle and psychological problems.
Depression, anxiety, addiction, and mental health are all key factors in emotional reactions. A lot of people who have underlying conditions tend deal with anger management difficulties. Anger has patterns and you or a loved one can show these behaviors at any time.
Difficulty with anger can be displayed by:
Bad behavior, arguing, trouble keeping healthy relationships.
Substance abuse and addiction
Refusing to speak, shouting, becoming violent
Ignoring others or refusing to speak
Struggling to meet agreements with others
Trouble expressing emotions in a calm manner
Techniques in Controlling Anger
Anger can be caused by internal and external forces and it can get the best of you, but there are ways to help contain your anger.
Think about the situation: When your angry it can be beneficial to stop what you’re doing and step outside of the situation. It can be very difficult to make a decision when you are in a state of heightened emotion.
Work on identifying your warning signs, as you begin to recognize things that make you angry or irritated you will be able to take yourself out of the situation and use different relaxation and coping mechanisms that will help prevent your anger from escalating.
Change your Thinking:
Anger is a well-known culprit of making things feel worse than they actually are. When you think about a situation over and over again it becomes unproductive to your overall goal of calming down. Rather than thinking about the situation that caused the anger think about the resolution you can use to resolve the situation.
Using cognitive reconstruction, you can start to re-train your brain to dispel unhelpful or negative/harmful thoughts. This includes replacing avoiding words such as “never” and “always” As you are re-playing a situation in your brain replace words.
For example, “This never works” can be replaced with something along the lines of “This could work” when you use words like “never” you are justifying your anger and giving it power over a situation. Using a logical word choice allows you to re-structure a situation and the feelings that surround this situation.
Use Relaxation Techniques:
There are many relaxation techniques that help you cope with angry feelings. For example, deep breathing, meditation, imagery, and muscle relaxation can aid in the release of anger. When you are angry focus on the pace of your breathing, it is not unusual to have a fast-paced shallow breath when you are feeling emotions such as anger.
Take a minute to focus on your breathing and take slow, deep breaths. Each breath should be controlled, breath in from the belly and release from the mouth. As you are practicing your deep breathing start to picture yourself in a place where you feel calm or happy. This can be a place you have visited and have memories of or a place in your imagination.
Anger is an emotion that naturally tenses the body and it can go unnoticed. When you become aware of your physical reaction to anger you can combat this reaction to ease your body into a calmer state.
Progressive muscle relaxation is when you slowly tense each muscle in the body, top to bottom. As you do this to each muscle (one at a time) you will start to feel the tension release and your focus shift.
Exercise and Self Expression:
Physical activity is a great way to work your anger outwards. This is a productive way to expel anger because it improves the mood and it releases any tension in the body.
Self-Expression is extremely important and sometimes the inability to express anger in a healthy manner can create a bigger problem. Anger can cause people to “jump” into a situation, rather than thinking about the different perspectives of a situation.
Practice self-expression by slowing down and taking the time to listen before responding and listen to the underlying message. Take accountability for anger by using “I” statements and focus on expressing how you feel without putting blame on those around you.
Is There Treatment for Anger Management?
Anger management varies from person to person and it should be assessed on an individual basis. It is crucial that underlying problems such as; abuse or mental illness are identified and treated.
Anger is not always an isolated problem and it is not something that you can get rid of, it is a natural emotion that has to be controlled. Effective therapeutic strategies including; cognitive behavioral therapy and Heart Coherence training are some of the most effective strategies when learning to control anger.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
The purpose of cognitive behavioral therapy in anger management is to help patients recognize self-defeating negative thinking patterns that cause severe anger and flares.
It gives patients the tools to cope better in difficult situations, deal with irregular emotions and heightened sensations, positively resolve conflict, and learn better coping mechanisms.
What is Heart Coherence Training?
We have this biofeedback in our Lake Forest, CA office. It only takes a few minutes of deep breathing for the client, using the Heart Math Software. This is a training led and taught by professionals. It is a special technique where you learn to monitor and alter your heart rhythms. This helps regulate the nervous system and reduces angers more physical effects. This helps patients feel less tension, stress, and irritation.
Anger does not have to be an emotion that will leave you in desolation, there is treatment available and there are ways to cope with these emotions. Always seek out a professional to help you formulate a plan to conquer feelings of irritability, anger and rage. It is important to understand the nature behind anger and its effects. Take control of your life by learning to control and express your emotion in a healthy and positive way.
Call Dr. Clare Albright, Psy.D., CA Psychologist License PSY11660 at (949) 454-0996 at