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Anger Counselling  |  Robbie Psychologist

Anger Management Tips: 5 Commandments for Anger Management

Chad Prinsloo | Web Designer

Robbie Pearman  |  Psychologist  |  Counselling for Anger

August 21 2020

Anger is a normal human emotion felt by everyone from time to time, and when dealt with appropriately, can be healthy. However, anger can become problematic if it leads to yelling at loved ones, threatening others, showing aggression, or physical violence.

Anger can also negatively impact us in less dramatic ways. For example, the residual effect of it might be seen when we waste time thinking about upsetting events, or allow ourselves to get overly worked up when stuck in traffic.

Managing your anger doesn’t mean never getting angry. Instead, it involves learning how to recognize, cope with, and express your anger in healthy and productive ways. Anger management is a skill that everyone can learn. Like any skill, managing anger can be learned and improved with enough effort, regardless of how well you feel you currently manage it.

What Is Anger Management And Why Is It Important?

Anger management is a reflective process that can help with recognizing the signs of anger and appropriately handling triggers. If done effectively, a person feeling anger will be able to identify and label their anger as early as possible and to express their needs where possible, and to remain in control by interrupting any behaviour cycle that would otherwise lead to the negative reactions usually associated with anger.

Managing anger does not involve suppressing it in or avoiding your feelings. Coping with anger is an acquired skill, and almost anyone can learn to control their feelings with time, patience, and willingness to think and reflect their anger honestly.

Here are 5 thoughts to help keep your anger under control and well-managed.

#1 Understand That Uncontrolled Anger Is A Problem.

Living consistently with high levels of stress and anger makes you more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, a weakened immune system, insomnia, and high blood pressure. In addition to the potential health risks, there may be other unintended consequences of ineffectively managing your anger, such as damaging cherished personal relationships or professional and social reputations.

#2 Identify Triggers

What makes you lose your temper? Long queues? Being stuck in traffic? Your boss yelling at you in front of everyone?

Make a list of the things that most often to anger you. This can help you identify your triggers to avoid anger-inducing situations or, when that’s not possible, know when you should take steps to channel your feelings more effectively.

By making a list of things that are most likely to make you feel upset or angry, you might decide to structure your day differently to help you manage your triggers better.

For example, If long queues are causing you to feel angry when at the shops, maybe you can go at a different time when it’s not busy (go early or before closing time). If traffic gets you upset, you could try driving another route or traveling outside of peak traffic times.

Blaming people or external circumstances for your inability to keep your cool, robs you of the opportunity to understand the things that trigger your anger. Listing these situations on pen and paper can help you see how much of it you can control by making some simple, pragmatic changes, and assuming some self-control over these kinds of emotions.

#3 Control But Don’t Suppress

Often in our attempt to prevent an outburst of anger, we move to suppression. This is like continuing to fill a balloon (instead of deflating it) in the hopes that it will somehow not end in it exploding. Anger management is about learning to control your anger in the right way and differs from person to person. But it does not mean suppressing or internalizing it, which can be as harmful as frequent outbursts. Instead, it is about understanding why you are angry. Take a moment, pause, consider what has just happened and what about it angers you. Don’t supress, instead let your thoughts move to how you can respond to these feelings in a way that recognises them, but prevents you from taking actions you know you will likely regret when the anger has left your body.

#4 If You’re Going To Express Anger, Express It When You’ve Calmed Down

We often get so heated up in the moment when we are angry, which leads to us saying things we don’t mean, and expressing frustration to those who might not be at fault. Even if you’re feeling frustrated, it’s always best that you assertively deal with your anger and tackle it in a nonconfrontational way at a later point once you’ve calmed down. When our response is towards another person, try to express your feelings as way that respects them and the relationship you have with them. Think about maintaining the relationship when you respond, not about being right and winning the confrontation.

#5 Try Let it go

When you feel angry and still can’t solve a problem, it can make you feel even angrier. Like when that driver cuts you off and speeds away, leaving you stuck at the traffic lights. Or when your boss makes you stay late when you’ve already planned an important family event.

Sometimes, there’s really nothing you can do, and have to accept the reality that you simply aren’t going to be able to avoid the situation. In these cases, you need to figure out how to let it go, rather than let it consume you. If you don’t, you might take your anger out on someone who doesn’t deserve it. Some questions to ask yourself that might help you move past it are:

  • How important is it in the bigger picture?
  • Do I gain anything from getting angry about it?
  • Is it worth letting this ruin the rest of my day?
  • Is my response appropriate for the situation?
  • Is there anything I can actually do about it?
  • Is taking action worth my time?

Know When To Seek Help

Learning to control anger is a challenge everyone faces from time to time. However, If anger has been causing consistent problems in your life and you’re struggling to manage and overcome your temper on your own, you might want to seek professional help from a psychologist.

With professional help, you can:

  • Identify what triggers your anger
  • Respond constructively, either in the early stages of anger or beforehand
  • Learn to respond to frustration and anger in a controlled, healthy way
  • Explore underlying feelings, such as sadness or anxiety that is responsible for the anger
  • Redirect energy and resources into problem-solving

Anger management counselling can be done individually, with your partner or other family members, or in a group.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group has also written a useful article on anger management

I’m a Counselling Psychologist situated in Blairgowrie, near the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, such as Rosebank and Sandton.

I work with individuals, couples, families, and small groups to address current challenges with a solution-focused approach. These challenges may include some more common complaints such as depression, and anxiety, or those trying to come to terms with trauma or bereavement.

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