What is Anger Management?
There is nothing wrong with feeling angry. It’s normal, natural and sometimes necessary. Anger is an adaptive emotional response to experiences of hurt, injustice, fear and frustration. Anger often inspires a powerful physical response in the body, such as a rush of adrenaline, increased blood pressure, increased heart-rate and fast breathing. This physical response can lead to aggressive behavior, which allows us to defend ourselves if attacked. Feeling anger is not the problem, it’s what we do with that volatile emotion that can lead to problems.
Anger, if not managed properly, can become destructive at work, in relationships, and affect our overall well-being. Some indicators that you may need to consider an anger counseling course or group anger management therapy sessions include: (1) Feeling like you constantly have to “hold in” or repress your anger. (2) Frequent arguing with your spouse, children or co-workers. (3) Trouble with the law, or reckless disregard for rules. (4) Physical violence, such as hitting, loud shouting, door slamming, etc. (5) Threats of violence against people or property. (6) Out-of-control behavior, such as breaking things or reckless driving.
Anger Management Counseling Sessions
Out-of-control anger leads to a pattern of negative behavior that can hurt your relationships, career, even your mental and physical health. Anger management classes can help you unlearn these negative responses to anger and help you regain control. An anger management counselor can help you to recognize early signs of anger, and teach you to take the necessary steps to relax and deal with situations in a positive way. Through awareness training and behavior modification techniques, a highly angry person can begin to see results, moving closer to mid-range anger, in 8 – 10 weeks.
Anger management courses don’t try to keep you from feeling anger, but teach you how to express anger in a healthy, constructive way. Managing anger well is a learned behavior, requiring practice and resilience. While you can’t get rid of the things or the people that make you angry, you can learn how to control your reactions to them. Anger management therapy sessions (psychotherapy) can be done on an individual basis, with your spouse, or with other family members. Anger management group classes are also popular. Group anger management sessions allow you to see others coping with similar challenges and hear their personal stories of failures and successes. Generally, anger counseling classes focus on learning specific skills and ways of thinking to cope with anger.
Self-Help Tips: Strategies for Successfully Managing Anger
Note: While practicing anger management techniques on your own can be helpful, for many the most effective approach to anger management is to seek help from a professional anger management counselor through individual counseling sessions or group therapy classes. In addition, if you have any other mental health conditions, such as depression or addiction, you may need to work with a therapist on these other issues for anger management techniques to be effective.
Below are some tips that may help you manage your anger:
Be Anger Aware. It is important that you learn to identify where and when you feel angry. Write it down. Is there a pattern? Do you have consistent “triggers.” Can you begin to identify why you are so angry? Is anger masking other feelings such as embarrassment, hurt, or shame? Talk to someone you trust or an anger management specialist about situations that make you angry. If you don’t know why you are getting angry, it’s very hard to learn to control your anger.
Learn to Relax. Notice what anger feels like: do you get a knot in your stomach, a headache, tense shoulders? Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and relaxing imagery can help counteract some of the physical symptoms of anger. However, you need to practice these techniques when you are not feeling upset. It is important to become “good at relaxation” before you can draw upon these techniques in the heat of the moment.
Change your Thinking. When you start getting upset about something, take a moment to think. Ask yourself, “Is getting upset going to fix anything?” Or, “Is this worth ruining my day over?” If you can recognize when you’re not thinking logically about a situation, you can replace these thoughts with more rational ones.
Problem Solve. Sometimes our anger and frustration are caused by very real and inescapable problems in our lives. In these cases, use anger diagnostically. Ask yourself “What is so wrong in my life that I feel furious, and what do I need to do to change the situation?” By focusing on problem solving during frustrating situations you can use anger constructively as motivation for positive change. However, it is important to recognize situations you can’t control or change. In those situations you may need to work on changing your perspective on the situation.
Communicate Effectively. The key to effective communication is good listening. Try listening to what is behind the anger or source of frustration. For example: Is your partner criticizing you for coming home late from a stressful day at work? Instead of responding defensively, try to understand the underlying message or hurt. Maybe your partner is feeling neglected or unloved. By keeping your cool you can prevent the situation from escalating. Also, learn to communicate respectfully. Be careful of words like “never” or “always”. When we are angry we tend to jump to conclusions, often the wrong one. Slow down and think through your response. Is what you are about to say constructive?
See the Humor in Life. Anger is a serious emotion. However, with proper insight the frustrations of life can sometimes make you laugh. When used to address a frustrating situation or defuse your rage, humor can help you achieve a more balanced perspective. However, humor should not be used to mask anger, or become overly sarcastic, because then it becomes another unhealthy expression of anger.
Take a Break. If your anger seems to be building, remove yourself from the situation for a few minutes and do something else – take a brisk walk, listen to some music, or try your relaxation techniques. Your chances of resolving the situation in a productive manner greatly increase when you can approach it with a cooler head.
Modify your Environment. While you can’t control everything that happens in life, you can take steps to avoid unnecessary aggravation. Look at your daily routine and identify activities, times of day, people, places, or situations that are a source of frustration and anger. Then make some changes. Find an alternate route to work; shut the door to your daughter’s messy room; set up a time when you’re not too tired and hungry to talk about important matters with your wife; and most of all, make sure you have some “personal time” scheduled for times of the day that you know are particularly stressful.
Find Help with Anger Management
If you or someone you know struggles with Anger issues, it is important to know there is help available. Managing anger well is a learned behavior and requires practice. Help from an anger management counselor or group therapy sessions can go along way in helping an individual improve their quality of life.