In the Grip of Anger? Take These Steps to Break Free
James is married and has three kids. He loves his wife and his children, but lately he feels like he’s been pushing them away with loud displays of anger he can hardly control. He doesn’t want to feel so frustrated all the time, and he wishes he could cool down more easily.
It seems like no matter what James tries, when he comes home from work and sees that his kids haven’t done the chores he asked them to, his heart begins to race and he feels like he’s losing control. He knows it’s scary for the people he really cares about, but can’t seem to break free of his anger.
Anger arises when you’re feeling overwhelmed by frustration. If you’re like James, your tolerance for frustration seems much lower than for everyone else you know. Many factors play into the amount of anger you feel, but psychologists believe that certain people simply get angrier more easily than others. Regardless of the origin of your angry feelings, you can feel better.
How to deal with anger and frustration?
1. Understand your anger.
If you’re feeling angry, it can be hard to slow down and take note of what’s going on—what your body is doing, what emotions you’re feeling, even who exactly your anger is directed toward. But if you take a few notes now and then about your anger—when you’re angry, who you’re angry with, and why certain situations make you feel so frustrated—you can begin to approach your anger triggers a little more mindfully.
Imagine you have a friend who relies on you a little too often for favors or money. You start to feel really angry whenever he asks you for things. It’s normal to feel frustrated in such situations, but your anger makes you feel out of control. If you try to understand why your friend sets you off, you might realize it’s because you’re not feeling supported enough by people in your life, or because you’re chronically stressed about your own financial situation.
It’s easier to do this after the fact, or after you’ve had time for your body to “cool down”. Just make a habit of reflecting back on the situation and see what it is about the situation that triggers you without simply blaming the other person. Try and identify your need or emotion in the situation.
2. Pay attention to how your angry thoughts are phrased.
When your anger flares up, you can start to think in black-and-white, dramatic terms. You might think, “He never remembers to do what I ask,” or “She’s always undermining me at work.” When you start thinking in terms of “never” and “always,” it can feel like the problem is unresolvable and your angry feelings are justified.
If you try to bring your thoughts down a notch by instead saying to yourself, “I felt like Julie undermined me and that was really frustrating,” it becomes easier to imagine ways in which you could address the problem. Reassuring yourself that the irrational thoughts which sometimes accompany anger aren’t necessarily true can be very calming.
3. Communicate and ask questions.
When you’re feeling heated, you can jump to conclusions about what someone said or did. Giving yourself a moment to assess the situation can help diffuse angry feelings. For example, if you have an appointment with your boss and she’s late, try to think of logical reasons why she might be late before concluding that she doesn’t value your time. For every conclusion you draw, come up with an alternate perspective as well. If you don’t understand what someone meant by a particular comment, asking them about it will feel much better than dwelling on all the potential meanings. “Can I clarify…?”
4. Talk to someone.
Chronic anger can feel like a heavy and unmanageable load. If you feel like you’ve tried everything and nothing stems the flow of your angry thoughts, asking someone else for perspective can be a big relief. Of all the people affected by your struggle with anger, you have the most to gain from breaking free of its grip. You can feel better. Reaching out can point you in the right direction.
If you are feeling out of control with your anger or are simply tired of feeling frustrated at the big and the little things, give us a call. A therapist in Houston can help you learn how to deal with anger, get to the root of your triggers and find solutions that meet your needs.
To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.
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