Unless you’re a monk in a monastery, surrounded by other monks, chances are you run into people and events that make you downright angry sometimes. And that’s okay. Anger is a common human condition and, in many instances, it can serve as a guide to better choices and situations.
For example, if you feel yourself routinely becoming angry at work while interacting with your boss, it may be an indication that you need to learn to communicate your ideas better, not take things personally, or even find a job in a work environment that is more suited to your skill set and personality.
But while anger can serve as a guide to some people, to others, anger is like an uncontrollable monster. It wreaks havoc on everything it encounters, including relationships.
If you find that you get carried away with angry emotions, it’s important to learn how to manage your feelings and reactions to those feelings.
Here are four everyday exercises you can do to manage anger:
The very first step to control your anger is to recognize when it is creeping up on you. Pay special attention to the events of your life and your reaction to these events. When you feel that angry feeling coming on, pay close attention. What does it feel like? Where do you feel it in your body? Are your palms getting sweaty? Is your chest getting tight? Many clients initially report there is no physical sensation, but after practicing some basic mindfulness, they quickly realize the physical sensation happens first. This takes practice. Be patient.
Reframe The Situation
When we haven’t slept well, have low blood sugar, or we’re just in a bad mood for whatever reason, it is entirely too easy to see a situation in a way that isn’t realistic. When you feel your anger rise up, stop and reframe the situation to see if there is a better explanation for a triggering event. Also, if you find you are prone to anger and irritability, be aware of your basic needs and which ones make the biggest difference when not attended to.
For instance, if someone cuts you off in traffic you have to two options: you can assume they did it intentionally to piss you off, or you can reframe it to come up with a better explanation. For example, it wasn’t intentional, they didn’t see you, they are rushing to get to a sick loved one, etc.
Take Deep Breaths
You have probably heard countless times that breathing deeply in stressful situations can relax you almost immediately, but have you actually ever tried it? Believe it or not, most people haven’t. If so, are you doing correctly? Yes, you CAN do it the wrong way. So much so, that if done incorrectly, it can even trigger anxious and angry feelings.
Slow, deep breaths with longer exhalations can have a profound impact on your entire body, relaxing your muscles and slowing your heart rate. Give it a try the next time you feel your anger rising. You will be shocked at how affective deep breathing is.
Your imagination is extremely powerful. We knew this as kids, but for some reason as adults we often forget the power of imagination. As you breathe deeply, visualize a pleasant environment or situation. It’s helpful to try to use as many senses as you can while doing this.
For example, imagine you are back in your grandparent’s house as a kid with the smell of gingerbread cookies in the air and the sound of the radiators hissing on a cold December morning. Or you could imagine yourself on a tropical beach. Hear the waves lapping against the white sands, smell the sea breeze, as you watch the palm trees swaying overhead.
Your consciousness doesn’t know real from imagine situations. As you imagine yourself someplace that is peaceful and happy, your body naturally reacts as if you were actually there and actually peaceful and happy.
These are just some of the many exercises you can use to manage your anger. If you still feel overwhelmed by your emotions, or find that your emotional outbursts are interfering with your relationships or your career, and you like to speak to someone, please feel free to contact us.
Are you looking for help with anger therapy in New Haven, CT? Contact us today for a free consultation.
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists take control and move From Surviving to Thriving.