Often in my practice, and especially when working with couples, I see anger that is out of control. In relationships, this can quickly spiral into verbal or physical abuse. While anger is a normal emotion, it needs to be expressed in healthy ways and regulated. Traditional anger management techniques have focused on beating a pillow or yelling when you are alone, but we all need help to develop a deeper understanding of this emotion and effective ways of managing it.
Anger is basically just too much stress or distress – from memories, what’s going on around you, or what’s said to you. It is a complex emotion that signals we are feeling threatened, wronged, afraid. It is however, a normal emotion and can have its uses when expressed appropriately and within safe limits.
When anger isn’t regulated it can accelerate into criticism, name calling, shouting, throwing things, and at worst, threatening or hurting another person physically. This is when anger turns into abuse and violence, and it is never acceptable. Remember that you can never trust your own judgement when you are angry.
Anger is at its core, part of our fight or flight stress response that enabled us to get away or deal with danger and threat. As infants, it also helps us get our needs met, for example if we aren’t getting fed or picked up and cuddled when we want to. The ability to develop self-control, however, is one of the things that separates humans as a species. Our brain has the capacity to process what is going on, regulate strong emotions and then rationalize our response, but anger inhibits that activity. As we mature we learn to subdue our impulses in order to evaluate our options and consider the best course of behavior to get what we want. If you grew up in an angry family, or struggled to get your needs met, then maybe you didn’t learn good impulse control habits, but it is never too late.
Anger is a signal, it is telling us that we need to calm down, review what is pushing our buttons and take control of our behavior. When we don’t we can find our work, our relationships and our self-image begin to suffer. Nobody likes to be around someone who is quick to flare up and display their temper on a frequent basis.
So, if you find yourself losing control to anger, here are some tips to help:
If the subject matter in this article resonates with you, then counselling might be a good option to help you to move forward. I offer a free 20-minute consultation so we can explore how I might be able to help you.
This article was also published on English Informer In France