Anger Management: Looking Deeper
Anger management problems are so common. Anger, unresolved and unmanaged, can destroy relationships.
I’ve always had a short fuse
So often we can think that anger is the problem, when actually it is a expression of deeper issues. Those issues may be unrealistic expectations, lingering resentment, or feeling unloved or inadequate.
Those issues may also be unresolved past abuse or neglect, or a family culture of power and manipulation.
I’m scared what I may do in my rage
People often seek help or counselling when they see the consequences of their pattern of anger.
- the suffering of a partner who last left them
- the consequences of being violent
- a pattern of uncontrolled anger with people at work, home or with friends
- their road rage
- their taking retaliation against others who have wronged them
My partner and I end up not talking for days
Conflict is normal in relationships. Healthy couples can reach out to each other in a truce, show perspective and empathy, and speak authentically about their respective needs.
Where couples cannot heal ruptures as they occur, the pain gets buried and fuels the next cycle of escalating conflict. Breaking this cycle involves relearning the art of reconnecting with vulnerability and humility.
Others say I need anger management. Why should I change?
How ofter have you heard the position of “I won’t admit to a problem and change unless you change first”. When two people lose empathy for the other, and make such demands for the other to make the first move, a standoff results.
When one or both partners say “I know I have issues I need to address, and that’s my top priority”, then the standoff is broken and constructive patterns of relating can resume.
Can you give me some tools to manage my angry outbursts?
Sometimes practical tools and strategies can help as the basis for civil and respectful relationships.
Nine strategies to manage your anger
- Be aware of the physical signs that your anger is building – fast heart rate and breathing, sweating, becoming agitated, sudden sensations of heat and flushing in the face, pressure building in your head, your stomach starts to knot, muscles tighten, especially the jaw and arms. These signs are indications your body is preparing for ‘flight or fight ’- a response to threat.
- Tell the person you are angry with “I can’t think properly, I’m getting too angry, I will talk about this when I’ve calmed down”.
- Take time out. Walk away from the situation for however long it takes. On a scale of 1-10, if your anger is more than 7, you will need at least an hour to calm yourself.
- Distract yourself by thinking about something else. Go for a walk, jog, ride a bike — something physical that will burn up your energy. You could also ring a trusted relative or friend.
- Practice relaxation or deep breathing. When angry, breathing becomes fast and shallow. Slow and deepen your breath for a calming effect. Take five long, slow breaths and relax the muscles in your arms and face.
- When you are feeling calmer, ask the person to discuss the issue with you again, or invite them to make a time to discuss it. If you get angry, walk away from the situation again.
- Consider how close you were to being abusive and think calming thoughts. Also think about how your arguments start and don’t rehearse negative statements like blaming the other person etc. Back away when these thoughts start to build up tension.
- Use walk away ‘time out’ to gain control over your anger and prevent physical violence or abuse. Don’t try to use it as a form of control to end a disagreement.
- Practice taking a 15 minute ‘time out’ at least three times a week even if you are not feeling aggressive. Do something you enjoy but never use this time to drink, take drugs or do something which upsets your partner. Come back right on time and continue what you were doing OR invite your partner to take ‘time out’ to do something they enjoy.