How do I make Anger Management a priority?
Anger Expressions that have become Destructive:
Many of us have found that our angry feelings have become a destructive part of our life. When someone comes to that conclusion, a healthy alternative is to learn Anger Management. The skill of Anger Management doesn’t come naturally to most of us. That is because we began to express our anger as an infant. It became an embedded part of our automatic responses. If our parents were not extremely diligent in teaching us positive ways of expressing and releasing our anger, we probably displayed our anger in negative forms. This is because anger comes from the primitive part of our brain and often triggers the instinct of Fight or Flight. This primitive predisposition is a very important survival mechanism designed to get our body all geared up to Battle or Run from the circumstances. It can make us feel aggressive or want to totally distance ourselves from the situation. The problem is in this day and age; we are expected to stay and work out our affairs in a respectful manner. This is where the skill of Anger Management becomes extremely useful.
Anger Management must be Learned and Practiced, so it becomes Second Nature:
Step one in Anger Management is to understand this is a new skill that needs to be learned and practiced regularly until it is properly mastered. To begin to gain expertise with this skill, we must first understand the emotion. Anger is a feeling. Feelings are not good or bad but instead should be viewed as messages that are telling our mind and body our reaction to a given situation. It is important to listen to these communications and figure out a healthy way to deal with the circumstances. It is our expressions of anger that are either positive or negative. If we yell, swear, get physical or become destructive; then we are expressing our anger in a negative way. If we can find positive ways to calm down and stay respectful, then we are releasing our anger in a good way. Just a few positive ways to express and release our anger would be to go for a walk to calm down, exercise, do an activity that you enjoy, write, sing, talk or draw out your feelings and take slow deep breaths. These behaviors may not magically whisk all your anger away, but they can help you calm down and stay respectful instead of doing something that damages your life in the long run.
Anger is part of the Fight or Flight Process:
Step two in becoming proficient in Anger Management is understanding that anger comes from the primitive part of our brain. It can set off a powerful instinct called our Fight or Flight response. This predisposition causes our mind and body to gear up to battle or run. Therefore, we sometimes feel a strong sense of aggression and a burst of energy. These reactions make anger harder to control. We need to learn how to recognize when our anger is about to set off this powerful reaction and be ready with a tool box of skills to calm ourselves down or leave the situation if we feel we will lose control. A variety of Anger Tools has been described in the beginning of this series at: www.supporttivetalk.com.
Cool rather than Fuel Angry Thoughts:
Another vital skill in Anger Management is to pay attention to our internal thoughts. Our personal cognitions can either fire up our anger or calm it down. Consequently, when we become angry, we must notice if our thoughts are increasing our anger or cooling it down. If we are fanning the flames, we must change our thought process to help us calm down. Internal thoughts like, “I can stay calm”; “ I am in control”; “This will all work out in the long run”; “What can I do to handle this situation in a positive way?”; or “What message is my anger trying to send me?” are all messages that may help us gain control over our anger.
These are some of the tools that I have taught you in my series on Anger Management. Learning to be in charge of your anger is a meaningful skill in life. With this skill, you are empowered to build a life of Happiness, Love, and Success!
If bookworms would like to read books on this subject, check out “Healing the Angry Brain” by Ronald Potter-Efron MSW, PhD. or “The Anger Workbook” by Les Carter and Frank Minirth.