Don’t see red – how to understand & manage anger.

anger managementWhat is anger?

  • Anger is a normal emotion just like any other such as happy, sad, anxious, excited.
  • However, anger can get us into more trouble than the others because if it boils over and we lose control, it often leads to aggressive or violent behaviour. For instance, hurling abuse at someone, punching someone, shouting expletives in someone’s face, or yelling a series of punishments and threats at your child.
  • To understand anger either in yourself or someone close to you, it is helpful to recognise what lies behind it. And someone is angry because they are either hurt or frightened.
  • For example, we can feel angry because someone has crossed a line in terms of our own rules or acceptable standards of behaviour; we aren’t being listened to and our needs aren’t being met; or we may feel out of control and decisions are being made which we aren’t happy about.
  • Anger can then build up inside  – it’s like a volcano, and the pressure becomes too much, we lose control and blow our top.

So it isn’t the anger which is the problem, it is the behaviour which follows the anger.

And this is where anger management techniques are really helpful.

Anger management

  • Learn to recognise your anger – what does it look like, what does it feel like?

Many people get a red face, form their hands into fists, start to shake or raise their voice.

What are your warning signs? Take note of your warning signs and learn what you need to do.

  • Take a time-out

Leave the situation. If another person is there, explain what you are doing and why. Only return to the situation when you feel calmer and your anger has subsided to a manageable level where you can stay in control.

  • Deep breathing

Take a minute to breath. Count to 4 when breathing in, hold your breath for the count of 4, then exhale for 4.

  • Express your anger

Once you are calmer, talk to someone. Tell them how you feel, why you are angry and what you need.

  • Exercise

Exercise is great for relaxing and releasing any pent-up energy. The endorphins produced will help you feel better.

  • Think of the consequences

What will happen if you blow your top? Will you be any happier if you take anger-fuelled action?  Generally, the one whose top has blown usually bears the negative consequences in the long run.

  • Seek professional help

Cognitive behavioural therapy works really well in treating anger because it helps a client get to know their anger (feelings), why they are angry (thoughts) and what helps them to manage their anger (behaviour).

Westend counselling works with many clients who are finding it difficult to control their anger including teenagers, young people and adults. See here for case studies of successful therapy outcomes.



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