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Anger Management

This article was one that help me with my anger issues and brought up some good points. I hope you like it as much as I did.  It was taken from MedCEU.com . 
 
In all honesty though, working the steps was what helped me the most with my anger issues.  But this will give you some idea if you need to have some professional help or not.

Carol R

Anger Management

Controlling Anger -- Before It Controls You


OBJECTIVES:

On completion of this course, students will be able to define and know several methods of coping with anger, and several methods of managing anger.

We all know what anger is, and we've all felt it: whether as a fleeting annoyance or as full-fledged rage.

Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. But when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems—problems at work, in your personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life. And it can make you feel as though you're at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion. This course is meant to help you understand and control anger.

What is Anger?

The Nature of Anger

Anger is "an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage," according to Charles Spielberger, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in the study of anger. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes; when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.

Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be angry at a specific person (Such as a coworker or supervisor) or event (a traffic jam, a canceled flight), or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings.

Expressing Anger

The instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival.

On the other hand, we can't physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us; laws, social norms, and common sense place limits on how far our anger can take us.

People use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their angry feelings. The three main approaches are expressing, suppressing, and calming. Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive—not aggressive—manner is the healthiest way to express anger. To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others. Being assertive doesn't mean being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others.

Anger can be suppressed, and then converted or redirected. This happens when you hold in your anger, stop thinking about it, and focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your anger and convert it into more constructive behavior. The danger in this type of response is that if it isn't allowed outward expression, your anger can turn inward—on yourself. Anger turned inward may cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression.

Unexpressed anger can create other problems. It can lead to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behavior (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. People who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven't learned how to constructively express their anger. Not surprisingly, they aren't likely to have many successful relationships.

Finally, you can calm down inside. This means not just controlling your outward behavior, but also controlling your internal responses, taking steps to lower your heart rate, calm yourself down, and let the feelings subside.

As Dr. Spielberger notes, "when none of these three techniques work, that's when someone—or something—is going to get hurt."

Anger Management

The goal of anger management is to reduce both your emotional feelings and the physiological arousal that anger causes. You can't get rid of, or avoid, the things or the people that enrage you, nor can you change them, but you can learn to control your reactions.

Are You Too Angry?

There are psychological tests that measure the intensity of angry feelings, how prone to anger you are, and how well you handle it. But chances are good that if you do have a problem with anger, you already know it. If you find yourself acting in ways that seem out of control and frightening, you might need help finding better ways to deal with this emotion.

Why Are Some People More Angry Than Others?

According to Jerry Deffenbacher, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in anger management, some people really are more "hotheaded" than others are; they get angry more easily and more intensely than the average person does. There are also those who don't show their anger in loud spectacular ways but are chronically irritable and grumpy. Easily angered people don't always curse and throw things; sometimes they withdraw socially, sulk, or get physically ill.

People who are easily angered generally have what some psychologists call a low tolerance for frustration, meaning simply that they feel that they should not have to be subjected to frustration, inconvenience, or annoyance. They can't take things in stride, and they're particularly infuriated if the situation seems somehow unjust: for example, being corrected for a minor mistake.

What makes these people this way? A number of things. One cause may be genetic or physiological: There is evidence that some children are born irritable, touchy, and easily angered, and that these signs are present from a very early age. Another may be sociocultural. Anger is often regarded as negative; we're taught that it's all right to express anxiety, depression, or other emotions but not to express anger. As a result, we don't learn how to handle it or channel it constructively.

Research has also found that family background plays a role. Typically, people who are easily angered come from families that are disruptive, chaotic, and not skilled at emotional communications.

Is It Good To "Let it All Hang Out?"

Psychologists now say that this is a dangerous myth. Some people use this theory as a license to hurt others. Research has found that "letting it rip" with anger actually escalates anger and aggression and does nothing to help you (or the person you're angry with) resolve the situation.

It's best to find out what it is that triggers your anger, and then to develop strategies to keep those triggers from tipping you over the edge.

Strategies To Keep Anger At Bay

Relaxation

Simple relaxation tools, such as deep breathing and relaxing imagery, can help calm down angry feelings. There are books and courses that can teach you relaxation techniques, and once you learn the techniques, you can call upon them in any situation. If you are involved in a relationship where both partners are hot-tempered, it might be a good idea for both of you to learn these techniques.

Some simple steps you can try:

  • Breathe deeply, from your diaphragm; breathing from your chest won't relax you. Picture your breath coming up from your "gut."
  • Slowly repeat a calm word or phrase such as "relax," "take it easy." Repeat it to yourself while breathing deeply.
  • Use imagery; visualize a relaxing experience, from either your memory or your imagination.
  • Nonstrenuous, slow yoga-like exercises can relax your muscles and make you feel much calmer.

Practice these techniques daily. Learn to use them automatically when you're in a tense situation.

Cognitive Restructuring

Simply put, this means changing the way you think. Angry people tend to curse, swear, or speak in highly colorful terms that reflect their inner thoughts. When you're angry, your thinking can get very exaggerated and overly dramatic. Try replacing these thoughts with more rational ones. For instance, instead of telling yourself, "oh, it's awful, it's terrible, everything's ruined," tell yourself, "it's frustrating, and it's understandable that I'm upset about it, but it's not the end of the world and getting angry is not going to fix it anyhow."

Be careful of words like "never" or "always" when talking about yourself or someone else. "This !&*%@ machine never works," or "you're always forgetting things" are not just inaccurate, they also serve to make you feel that your anger is justified and that there's no way to solve the problem. They also alienate and humiliate people who might otherwise be willing to work with you on a solution.

Remind yourself that getting angry is not going to fix anything, that it won't make you feel better (and may actually make you feel worse).

Logic defeats anger, because anger, even when it's justified, can quickly become irrational. So use cold hard logic on yourself. Remind yourself that the world is "not out to get you," you're just experiencing some of the rough spots of daily life. Do this each time you feel anger getting the best of you, and it'll help you get a more balanced perspective. Angry people tend to demand things: fairness, appreciation, agreement, willingness to do things their way. Everyone wants these things, and we are all hurt and disappointed when we don't get them, but angry people demand them, and when their demands aren't met, their disappointment becomes anger. As part of their cognitive restructuring, angry people need to become aware of their demanding nature and translate their expectations into desires. In other words, saying, "I would like" something is healthier than saying, "I demand" or "I must have" something. When you're unable to get what you want, you will experience the normal reactions—frustration, disappointment, hurt—but not anger. Some angry people use this anger as a way to avoid feeling hurt, but that doesn't mean the hurt goes away.

Problem Solving

Sometimes, our anger and frustration are caused by very real and inescapable problems in our lives. Not all anger is misplaced, and often it's a healthy, natural response to these difficulties. There is also a cultural belief that every problem has a solution, and it adds to our frustration to find out that this isn't always the case. The best attitude to bring to such a situation, then, is not to focus on finding the solution, but rather on how you handle and face the problem.

Make a plan, and check your progress along the way. Resolve to give it your best, but also not to punish yourself if an answer doesn't come right away. If you can approach it with your best intentions and efforts and make a serious attempt to face it head-on, you will be less likely to lose patience and fall into all-or-nothing thinking, even if the problem does not get solved right away.

Better Communication

Angry people tend to jump to—and act on—conclusions, and some of those conclusions can be very inaccurate. The first thing to do if you're in a heated discussion is slow down and think through your responses. Don't say the first thing that comes into your head, but slow down and think carefully about what you want to say. At the same time, listen carefully to what the other person is saying and take your time before answering.

Listen, too, to what is underlying the anger. For instance, you like a certain amount of freedom and personal space, and your "significant other" wants more connection and closeness. If he or she starts complaining about your activities, don't retaliate by painting your partner as a jailer, a warden, or an albatross around your neck.

It's natural to get defensive when you're criticized, but don't fight back. Instead, listen to what's underlying the words: the message that this person might feel neglected and unloved. It may take a lot of patient questioning on your part, and it may require some breathing space, but don't let your anger—or a partner's—let a discussion spin out of control. Keeping your cool can keep the situation from becoming a disastrous one.

Using Humor

"Silly humor" can help defuse rage in a number of ways. For one thing, it can help you get a more balanced perspective. When you get angry and call someone a name or refer to them in some imaginative phrase, stop and picture what that word would literally look like. If you're at work and you think of a coworker as a "dirtbag" or a "single-cell life form," for example, picture a large bag full of dirt (or an amoeba) sitting at your colleague's desk, talking on the phone, going to meetings. Do this whenever a name comes into your head about another person. If you can, draw a picture of what the actual thing might look like. This will take a lot of the edge off your fury; and humor can always be relied on to help unknot a tense situation.

The underlying message of highly angry people, Dr. Deffenbacher says, is "things oughta go my way!" Angry people tend to feel that they are morally right, that any blocking or changing of their plans is an unbearable indignity and that they should NOT have to suffer this way. Maybe other people do, but not them!

When you feel that urge, he suggests, picture yourself as a god or goddess, a supreme ruler, who owns the streets and stores and office space, striding alone and having your way in all situations while others defer to you. The more detail you can get into your imaginary scenes, the more chances you have to realize that maybe you are being unreasonable; you'll also realize how unimportant the things you're angry about really are. There are two cautions in using humor. First, don't try to just "laugh off" your problems; rather, use humor to help yourself face them more constructively. Second, don't give in to harsh, sarcastic humor; that's just another form of unhealthy anger expression.

What these techniques have in common is a refusal to take yourself too seriously. Anger is a serious emotion, but it's often accompanied by ideas that, if examined, can make you laugh.

Changing Your Environment

Sometimes it's our immediate surroundings that give us cause for irritation and fury. Problems and responsibilities can weigh on you and make you feel angry at the "trap" you seem to have fallen into and all the people and things that form that trap.

Give yourself a break. Make sure you have some "personal time" scheduled for times of the day that you know are particularly stressful. One example is the working mother who has a standing rule that when she comes home from work, for the first 15 minutes "nobody talks to Mom unless the house is on fire." After this brief quiet time, she feels better prepared to handle demands from her kids without blowing up at them.

Some Other Tips for Easing Up on Yourself

Timing: If you and your spouse tend to fight when you discuss things at night—perhaps you're tired, or distracted, or maybe it's just habit—try changing the times when you talk about important matters so these talks don't turn into arguments.

Avoidance: If your child's chaotic room makes you furious every time you walk by it, shut the door. Don't make yourself look at what infuriates you. Don't say, "well, my child should clean up the room so I won't have to be angry!" That's not the point. The point is to keep yourself calm.

Finding alternatives: If your daily commute through traffic leaves you in a state of rage and frustration, give yourself a project—learn or map out a different route, one that's less congested or more scenic. Or find another alternative, such as a bus or commuter train.

Do You Need Counseling?

If you feel that your anger is really out of control, if it is having an impact on your relationships and on important parts of your life, you might consider counseling to learn how to handle it better. A psychologist or other licensed mental health professional can work with you in developing a range of techniques for changing your thinking and your behavior.

When you talk to a prospective therapist, tell her or him that you have problems with anger that you want to work on, and ask about his or her approach to anger management. Make sure this isn't only a course of action designed to "put you in touch with your feelings and express them"—that may be precisely what your problem is. With counseling, psychologists say, a highly angry person can move closer to a middle range of anger in about 8 to 10 weeks, depending on the circumstances and the techniques used.

What About Assertiveness Training?

It's true that angry people need to learn to become assertive (rather than aggressive), but most books and courses on developing assertiveness are aimed at people who don't feel enough anger. These people are more passive and acquiescent than the average person; they tend to let others walk all over them. That isn't something that most angry people do. Still, these books can contain some useful tactics to use in frustrating situations.

Remember, you can't eliminate anger—and it wouldn't be a good idea if you could. In spite of all your efforts, things will happen that will cause you anger; and sometimes it will be justifiable anger. Life will be filled with frustration, pain, loss, and the unpredictable actions of others. You can't change that; but you can change the way you let such events affect you. Controlling your angry responses can keep them from making you even more unhappy in the long run.

ANGER TOOLKIT

Understanding the Goals of Negative Behavior
You can tell what the purpose of the someone's mischief is by the way it makes you FEEL when it is happening. Instead of reacting to the mischief, you can ask yourself, "How is this behavior making me feel right now? Which of the basic emotional needs is being sought?"

If you feel annoyed and irritated...

His or her purpose is to get your attention. The most basic and fundamental need of children is the need to belong -- to bond and feel connected to the parent and family. To be esteemed and valued as a human being. This makes attention one of the strongest motives underlying the child's misbehavior.

If you feel powerless and out of control...

His or her purpose is to gain power and control over YOU. Children also have the need to be able to influence and control their environment. They strive to control the outcome of the events going on around them in ways that are consistent with, and in service to, their own wishes and desires. When they feel inadequate to do this, they become rebellious and defiant.

If you feel hurt...

His or her purpose is revenge! Children also strive to protect themselves from their "perception" of an attack or threat to their sense of self, whether real or imaginary. They perceive every reversal, major or minor, as if they were being singled out by others (i.e. parents, teachers) for special torture and punishment. They feel victimized and seek relief from their hurt feelings through acts of revenge.

If you feel discouraged and helpless...

His or her purpose is to withdraw from the task/situation for which he feels inadequate to cope. Children withdraw from overwhelming situations in order to maintain their immature sense of ego and pride, to escape the reality of their own inadequacies.

The solution: Disengage from the mischief
Disengage does not mean to ignore the emotional needs of our children. But now, you know exactly what is going on. You are disengaging from the child's mischief and misbehavior, not from them as a person. You are choosing to behave appropriately in the reality of the situation.

After you have disengaged from the child's mischief, you will feel relief from the tension, pressure and stress of the moment. You will feel in control, liberated, mature and secure within your own self. You will not take the child's behavior "personally" as if it was a true reflection of your own worth as a parent, and as a human being. You will feel appropriately responsible and competent to handle the situation. The more you practice disengaging from the child's mischief, the better you will become at it, the more the child will respect you -- and the more you will respect yourself!


Coping With Your Co-workers or Boss
Some people are more vulnerable to co-workers/boss mischief than others.They are more likely to take a co-worker's anger personally, (as if it were a true reflection on their worth and dignity as a person) and to overreact accordingly. Paradoxically, the more vulnerable you are, the more likely a co-worker or boss is to sense it and to make mischief with you in the first place. It follows, therefore, that one approach to reducing the amount of mischief you are experiencing on the job is to strengthen those areas of personal vulnerability that have been inviting it. This is how its done:

Phase One

1. The first step in coping with the negative behavior of a co-workers/boss is to identify it properly. To clearly see that, "this is mischief!" The person is doing something that does not need to be done. With a little practice, you will be able to spot mischief a block away and not take it personally.

2. Remember the definition of self-respect. "I'm a worthwhile human being in spite of my faults and imperfections. No one can take that away from me."

3. Catch yourself about to take a co-workers angry remarks seriously, as if it made sense in the real world!

4. Catch yourself about to "reason" him or her out of their anger mischief, as if reason had anything to do with it.

5. This shifting of our emotional gears from our old pattern to a new one, is call disengaging from the mischief. We are NOT ignoring it, or denying that it is going on. We know very well what is going on, only now we have a power we didn't have before the power to choose not to overreact.

6. Identify the underlying purpose of the anger and negative behavior. We do that by identifying the way it is making us feel right now. See understanding negative behavior for an example of this process

7. Armed with insight into the goals and purpose of the negative behavior of our co-worker/boss, we can deduce what kind of response they expect from us; the same kind we have always given them in the past, such as threats, demands, begging, cajoling..."brown nosing" ( these are all forms of our own mischief). They leave us feeling weak, powerless and ashamed in our own eyes. We can let them go, and respond in a self-respecting and appropriate way.


Phase Two

1. We are now free to make a NEW choice in our own behalf instead of overreacting to him/her as we have always done in the past, we can choose to do something unexpected!

Very often, the last thing they expect us to do in these unpleasant situations is to agree with them! We are not agreeing that they are correct in their facts, but merely that they FEEL the way they feel. For example, you can say, "I 'd feel the same way if I were you."

Validate their anger
"I don't blame you for being Angry." This validates him as a person in spite of his imperfections by treating him with respect .

Give them a choice
They can talk to you later when they have cooled off or write you a anger memo. Ask them "what remedy is it that you seek?" or words to that effect.

Agree with them
Agree that it would be nice if they get what they want from you. We didn't say we'd give it to them. When we validate their "preferences", we are validating them as a person in spite of their negative behavior towards us. What we are giving them is some relief from their painful, out of control anger.

When we choose to behave in this new way, we are standing our ground, but not in a hostile, threatening, morally superior way. We are equal members of the human race, and we are letting them know that they have lost their power to provoke us with their "anger mischief" and shenanigans.

It will help us to emotionally disengage from these provocations at work if we can shift our focus from our angry, mischief making co-workers/boss and focus attention on ourselves to make a change in the way we have historically handled these situations. We are so preoccupied with their nonsense, that we often forget that we are a person too. We are no more perfect than they are. We are not morally superior, but are only an imperfect human being as well. This very understanding serves as the basis for self and mutual respect which is the "key" to conflict resolution.

Four Proven Techniques for Managing Anger

The first step towards managing anger in our personal relationships appropriately is the identification of the mistaken attitudes and convictions that predispose us to being excessively angry in the first place!

Once these mistakes have been corrected, we will be less likely to fly off the handle than we were in the past.


The second step is the identification of those factors from our childhood that prevents us from expressing our anger as appropriately as we otherwise might. These factors include fear, denial, ignorance and so on.
  • These impediments to the effective and appropriate management of our anger towards others can be removed so that our suppressed anger will NOT compound itself inside of us as it has been doing for years.

The third step is learning the appropriate modes of expressing our "legitimate" anger at others so that we can begin to cope more effectively with anger provoking situations as they arise in our personal relationships. When we are anxious or depressed in our relationships, we are often experiencing the consequences of our suppressed anger. The problem is that we have suppressed our anger so deeply that we succeeded in concealing it from our own selves! All we are left with is the residual evidence of it, our anxiety or our depression. When we are depressed, very often we are also angry at our self without realizing it.
  • Learning to appropriately manage our anger at ourselves is the antidote to much of alcoholism and drug abuse. But the management of our anger does not end in learning these new and more appropriate ways to express it. There remains one last step.

The fourth step in the Anger Management process is to bind up the wounds that may have been left by the potentially devastating emotional impact of anger. "Anger wounds" left in us against those who have wronged us. If we do not complete this mopping up step, we will cling to the resentment of having been done wrong and will carry the festering residue of our anger and rage in our hearts forever.
  • One of the most effective means of giving ourselves immediate relief from anger in our personal relationships is to forgive others.

Many of us cannot forgive those who have trespassed against us.
Something below the level of our conscious awareness prevents us from relieving our residual anger by forgiving the other person and we then carry a grudge in our hearts for thirty years! This unresolved anger poisons our relationship with our friends and loved ones. It even spoils our relationship with ourselves! We make our own lives mean and miserable instead of happy and full. Very often the feeling is, "Why should I forgive them? What they did was WRONG!" But, is forgiveness for those who only do us right? Most people have a hard time forgiving others simply because they have a wrong understanding of what forgiveness is! When you forgive someone, it does not mean that you condone or are legitimizing their behavior toward you. To forgive them means that you refuse to carry painful and debilitating grudges around with you for the rest of your life! You are "refusing" to cling to the resentment of them having done you wrong. You are giving yourself some immediate relief from your OWN anger!

To forgive, then, is an act that we do on our OWN behalf.
It has nothing to do with "lifting" the other person's sin! You are not doing it for their sake. You are doing it for yourself. This is a choice you are making on your OWN terms in order to relieve your OWN pent-up emotions. The book, Managing And Coping With Anger contains an in-depth analysis of this four step process plus ten (10) carefully designed exercises, called homework, to help you to completely master the anger management process

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