Dr. Rachell N. Anderson
Have you ever noticed how some people get ticked off easily and lose their tempers in no time flat? Anger is blamed for so many violent and painful interactions such as road rage, child and domestic abuse, fratricide, fist fits and all manner of yelling and screaming that hurt relationships in unamenable ways.
And anger is not even a primary emotion like happiness or elation. It’s a secondary emotion, meaning it’s a reaction to others emotions that we resort to in order to protect ourselves or cover up other vulnerable feelings. We almost always feel something else first such as fear, frustration, guilt or shame before we get angry. And it only takes a split second. Many things can trigger anger, like someone cutting you off in traffic, someone criticizing you, someone being waited on in a restaurant when you got there first, children not following the rules or outright defying them. The list goes on. We all have one.
Down to brass tacks. Try as you may to blame others for making you angry, you have to admit you are responsible for your behavior and you’ll suffer the consequences for acting inappropriately.
The most important thing to figure out is what makes you angry. Is it the same kind of thing every time or do different things make you lose it? After years of practicing Psychotherapy, I’ve learned that some people use their anger to control others. They feel big and powerful when people are tiptoeing around them. That’s an interesting kind of manipulation, don’t you think?
But if you want your life to be better, you have to manage your anger. Whether you act it out or suppress it, anger is bad for your health. A quick Google search will show how anger causes the adrenal glands to flood the body with stress hormones including adrenaline and cortisol. Heart rate, blood pressure and respiration increase, the body temperature rises and the skin perspires. The brain shunts blood away from the gut and towards the muscles, in preparation for flight. Chronic anger can increase your heart-attack and stroke risk. It can also weaken your immune system. People have been known to die in an anger episode.
Suppression is not the answer. People who bottle up their feelings often end up exploding or become depressed later. People who vent and yell just tend to keep the anger cycle in motion.
When you believe the other person is making you angry, Like, (He is always mean to me or She is always so stupid.) you have to admit you have put him or her in charge of your emotions. Is that what your want, a mean or stupid person in charge of you?
There are so many things that happens between that first spark of anger and a major flare-up. And only you will determine who’s in control. If sparks do start to fly, you have the power to put out the fire. The next time you have an issue on your hands, don't explode or let someone walk all over you. Use these simple steps from Psychology, a few simple steps using Cognitive Behavioral therapy can help you to lose the grip.
What’s A Person To Do?
1. Figure out what makes you angry. Write them down. Avoid them if you can.
2. Think before you speak
In the heat of the moment, it's easy to say something you'll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything — and allow others involved in the situation to do the same.
3. Once you're calm and can think clearly, express your and frustration feelings using with 'I' statements rather than ‘You’ statements in a nonconfrontational way without blaming the other person. Request a solution that will work for you. For example, I worry when you’re not able to get to work on time. Will you let me know when you’ll be late?
4. When your temper flares, take a few deep breaths. Give yourself time to pause. Chill out. Take a few deep breaths and think of something more pleasant.
5. Put yourself in time out. Timeouts aren't just for kids. A few moments of quiet time might help you feel handle what's ahead without getting irritated or angry.
6. Lighten up can help diffuse tension. Find the humor in the situation to help you face what's making you angry. Maybe you have unrealistic expectations about how things should go.
Avoid sarcasm, though — it can hurt feelings and make things worse.
7. Remind yourself that anger won't fix anything and probably will make it worse.
8. Seek help when you need it. Learning to control anger is a challenge for everyone at times. Seek help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or hurts those around you.
Dr. Rachell Anderson is a native of Tunica, a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Professor Emeritus and author. She taught at the University of Illinois and ran a Private Clinical Practice in Springfield, Illinois for many years. She now lives and writes in Tunica, Mississippi. Check out her website at WWW.drrachellanderson.com for more articles and books she has written.