April 14, 2023

How to Deal with Anger

“Speak when you are angry, 

and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” 

~Ambrose Bierce

While anger is something we cannot control, what we do when we are angry is something that we can control. When we take better control of what we tell ourselves about the things that cause our anger – we can manage our anger better and have more successful relationships in life. This blog is about anger that hurts. Let’s remember that like any other emotion, anger is a way for us to be aware of when we are hurt: it’s a natural emotion.

However, when it entertains itself and increases with time, it becomes quite difficult to manage it: that’s when we know it has become an issue. 

The arousal cycle of anger…

The arousal cycle of anger has five phases: trigger, escalation, crisis, recovery and depression. Understanding the cycle helps us to understand our own reactions and those of others.

As a rule, there is always a trigger. It can be anything. It can happen over a short period of time, much like a certain sound, word, or action. Alternately, it might be a slow-burning trigger like inattention or an interior problem like lack of sleep. Keep a record of occurrences in which you explain what transpired before the outburst. Find the trigger by looking for hints, patterns, and commonalities in the scenarios. By removing or resolving the trigger as soon as feasible, intervention can be made to stop the cycle from progressing to its later stages.

The escalation phase. After the trigger has occurred, the person’s behavior may start to escalate if an intervention doesn’t take place. Physical manifestations of escalation may include clinched fists, trembling slightly, or shallow breathing. It could manifest in the way the person acts or speaks.

Crisis phase. When a person reaches stage three, they are in a fight-or-flight state and are acting irrationally. The frontal lobe has been replaced by the limbic system. Logic and reasoning are not very helpful at this point. Crisis management is the focus of stage three. If you are assisting someone who is in this stage, be careful with your words and limit your direction. Deliver concise, calm directives that provide only the necessary details. For instance, telling someone to put down their scissors politely. Second, offer directive options. Ask them politely to walk next door and take a break or sit down. A non-confrontational tone and staying calm are a priority. Calm is contagious. 

Even though it is referred to as the recovery phase, stage four could yet see more violence. Escalation can be rapidly defused. However, it takes a while to calm down. For example, if there is a calm space for the child to go, this would be wonderful to aid a safe recovery phase where further violence is prevented. Utilizing predictability, indulging in hobbies, being with people that make them feel safe, or using relaxing music, sensory objects, and familiar surroundings may all help with the calming process.

Post-crisis depression is the fifth stage. This is when feelings of guilt and shame begin to surface. One percent of people never feel these emotions. Only when they have successfully completed this last stage do you have the chance to speak with the child or the adult about the occurrence.

The idea that the person did not have complete control over their conduct is a supporting belief. They went into a fight-or-flight mode, which leads to irrational words and actions. Remain positive when dealing with the person; for instance, give the child a fresh start the next day. If this is a common occurrence, create and implement a crisis management plan.

Anger management techniques…

Anger is a total mind-body experience. It is tension-filled and based on the interaction of feelings, thoughts, and physical reactions within our body. How we manage anger – our quickness to anger, the situations that trigger our anger, and how we respond to anger—are based on habit. It’s the result of our biological makeup as well as our life experiences and their combined impact on the neuron pathways in the brain. As such, cultivating healthy anger management involves adopting new habits and a commitment to practice them. Meeting this challenge begins with expanding self-awareness.

Self-talk is what you tell yourself about the things that happen to you in life. Many times, anger can be managed successfully by changing this self-talk. Anger in life is normal and there are many things that trigger anger in our modern world. Most of these things we cannot control – but we can control the conversation in our head.

To better control their feelings and create healthy coping mechanisms for controlling anger, people can benefit from learning a variety of tactics and strategies known as anger management. People who struggle with controlling their anger may feel tremendous and frequent rage or find it difficult to control their actions, both of which can have detrimental effects on their personal and professional lives. 

Deep breathing exercises, visualization techniques, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and learning effective communication skills are a few examples of techniques for managing anger. People can enhance their interpersonal relationships, lessen stress, and live happier, healthier lives by developing good anger management skills.

Other anger management techniques to consider…

Identify the situations and events that make you angry. Being aware of what makes you angry can help you control it better.

Take a break. When you feel yourself becoming angry, take a step back for a few minutes to calm down and collect your thoughts.

Breathe deeply. Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Repeat this 5-10 times to help calm your body down.

Practice mindfulness. Focusing on the present moment can help you be more aware of your thoughts and feelings, and help you stay in control when emotions are high.

Exercise or do something physical. Doing something physical like going for a walk or doing yoga can help release pent-up frustration.

Communicate effectively. Expressing your feelings clearly and calmly can help you work through anger in a more constructive way. Pay attention to your communication style. Are you engaging in assertive communication or aggressive communication?
Finally, seek help if needed. If your anger is causing problems in your life, consider seeking the help of a therapist or a counselor who can help you develop strategies for managing it.