Anger has enormous energy. That energy can be a motivational force or a destructive one. When managed and expressed appropriately it helps us make important changes. When allowed to run wild, it can ruin lives – yours and others around you.
People with an ongoing, underlying anger problem will find themselves constantly stressed. Everything is an irritation and they feel resentful and taken advantage of. Only the things that are going wrong is noticed; the good things are blocked. As bitterness sets in, enjoyment of life disappears.
And yet anger is just an emotion. It gives us information like all emotions. It is neither good nor bad on its own. Anger lets us know when we have been threatened in some way. It helps us survive, build appropriate boundaries and put in place preventive measures.
Anger can become a habit
If you find yourself constantly on the defensive, easily annoyed and quick to anger, you may want to ask yourself if there is a larger problem. Are anger and dissatisfaction your first and typical response to everyday problems? What makes you angry? When we understand our emotional responses, we are able to reframe and choose more constructive alternative ones.
It’s what we do with our anger that becomes the problem, not the anger itself. It isn’t about self-control, but rather about developing a more thoughtful and problem-solving mindset. What outcomes do I want? Will anger accomplish that or solve my problems?
Each of us is responsible for our actions so it is important to pay attention to what our emotions are telling us. Developing positive working relationships with others goes a long way in finding solutions. That requires active listening, understanding, and a willingness to work together.
Check it out
If you feel you might have a problem with anger, here’s a quick way to gather some data. For one week jot down every time you feel angry, annoyed or irritated. What was happening that made you feel that way? Did irritations and annoyances quickly escalate? What other ways could you have responded?
Keeping a record for a short time helps us discover patterns. Be honest when doing this. It is for your benefit. Is there a pattern between events, your emotional responses and the thoughts you had at the time? What was going through your mind? Our thoughts occur so rapidly we are hardly aware of them. But they give us a clue about why we are responding like we are.
Now, go back and reflect on the positive experiences you had during that same week. What made you feel happy, contented or satisfied? When did you laugh and feel good about yourself and others? Was there an equal amount of good times? Discovering your patterns is the first step in changing habits that are hurtful to you, replacing them with habits that provide the long-term outcomes we want.
If you think you have an anger problem here are some things you can do:
- stop avoiding your problems
- stop rationalizing your behavior
- stop ignoring, stuffing or pushing your feelings away
- stop medicating with drugs or alcohol to dull the pain of emotional conflict and accompanying fear and anxiety
Second, allow yourself to feel your emotions. Ask yourself:
- why do I always feel so angry?
- What is my anger telling me?
- What can I learn about myself in this process of understanding my emotional responses?
Third, before you immediately respond with anger to problems, ask instead:
- What specifically is the problem I am facing? This is different than the symptoms of the problem
- What is my part in the problem?
- How does my response hurt or help me find solutions?
- Wat positive problem-solving strategies can I bring to this situation to bring about a positive conclusion?
Connected to our anger we also find fear, guilt, and pain. These are usually buried. Work through early childhood wounding to healing. Seek out a good professional trained therapist to help uncover long-held issues that need processing.
Early childhood perceptions and interpretations can continue to shape and color our world negatively until challenged and explored. When we allow early experiences to define how we react today, we can miss out on a lot of happiness in life.
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