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How to Deal with Anger
Anger is a natural emotion that all humans struggle with. How we choose to handle our feelings of anger and negative emotions are crucial to our overall social and emotional well-being. Learning to navigate our feelings of anger in a healthy manner can make all the difference in building constructive conflict resolution skills and maintaining positive relationships with others (Rivers, Bracket, Salovey, 2007).
Looking for warning signs
One of the first steps in effectively navigating feelings of anger is looking for our own personal warning signs that might indicate negative emotions are soon to surface. When these feelings are about to arise, there are often physiological, psychological, emotional, or cognitive warning signs that might be elicited. Each person has their own warning signs that indicate that these emotions are about to erupt. Gaining the insight and the ability to familiarize yourself with your personal warning signs are very important steps in learning to deal with anger.
Take Time Out
Taking time out is a very beneficial means of dealing with anger before it boils to the surface. The act of taking time out is finding a place that brings you tranquility and peace when angry emotions begin to be elicited. A crucial part of this step is to identify the place that you want to take a time out in before the situation arises. In the moment of anger, your mind will be clouded, and it will be a lot more of a challenge to identify that place. When you have entered the place of your choice, you may choose to do breathing exercises to calm down your physiological and emotional responses to the situation and help clear your mind. Once you have cleared your head, try to practice what you might say when you return to the situation that originally elicited those feelings of anger. This would also be a good time to recognize your responses to anger, so they will be easier to identify next time. The time-out is not a good time to be engaging in any sort of activities that cause more anger. Keep focusing on calming down and figuring out an effective, constructive response to the situation that originally caused you negative emotions. It is important to note that time outs are not an escape from reality and are only temporary. It is important to return back to the situation that originally caused you anger and healthily navigate the situation.
Finding the Source
A first, crucial step in regulating one’s anger is finding the source of that anger. One of the first steps in finding the source of anger is recognizing that we are all humans that have dealt with feelings of anger. Whether or not the feelings are rooted deep inside, or they are easy to find, there is always a root of one’s anger and it is something that is imperative to find if one wants to effectively regulate their anger. Another important step is to ensure that you are not displacing your feelings of anger. Displacing is the tendency to deflect feelings of anger about one specific event or person, when the anger is actually rooted in another issue.
Examine Thinking Patterns
Another step is to evaluate your thinking patterns in situations that evoke anger. During this step, it is crucial to examine yourself and your inner thoughts truthfully. The following questions are important to ask yourself in the midst of angry emotions:
Are my expectations in this situation realistic?
What do I feel like I deserve in this situation?
Am I relating this situation to another situation or person of my past that evokes negative responses from me?
Did the person or thing that made me angry have the malicious intent to do so?
In the long view, how much will this situation pose an effect on my life?
What am I really trying to achieve with my anger?
What are the costs and benefits of my anger? Is it causing me more harm than good to act/ think this way?
What if My Anger is Justified?
Feelings of anger are normal responses to negative aspects of life. If you have gone through each of these steps carefully and you still feel like you are justified in your feelings of anger, there are a few steps that you need to take from this point on: Since anger is a natural emotion, you can allow yourself to feel this emotion. Feeling the emotion and acting out feelings of the emotion are two completely different things. Allow yourself to discuss your emotions in a constructive and effective way with the person that elicited this response. When you discuss with them what is making you feel angry, they are more likely to respond empathetically rather than instigating the evocation of another negative response. Make sure that you are not passive in your actions and that you do not have an outburst. Anger outbursts only escalate the situation more. Also make sure that you are utilizing ‘I’ statements to discuss how you feel. Do not point your finger and say, “You are the reason I am mad…” This will only escalate the situation further. It would be more constructive to express that you feel uncomfortable when they said … because it brought you back to an experience of your past. Make sure that you are taking full responsibility for your feelings of anger and that you are actively looking for new methods of effectively and healthily navigating your natural emotions of anger.
Article written by Reema Sabella, UNF Psychology Major and Summer 2019 Intern, and reviewed and edited by Dr. Justin D’Arienzo.
If you believe you need more assistance in managing your anger, consider seeing one of our psychologists, therapists, or counselors. We offer Skype and Facetime anger management services in the event you are unable to see one of our anger experts in person. Additionally, we have online anger management courses that our clients use to meet work requirements or court orders.
If you are having issues involving anger of your own or with the other parent in coparenting, and need assistance with your divorce or separation process, check out this great site on high conflict co-parenting at https://www.highconflictcoparentingcourse.com/