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Control Your Anger By Improving Self-Awareness

Anger is an emotion that can come on quickly or develop over time. It often is between 2 people and as we become more and more angry with someone else, we can lose perspective on the other person’s motives and feelings. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of criticizing and placing blame on others to help relieve the intense emotions, and/or to become defensive about our actions.

Placing criticism on others is a negative pattern that may help us to get through a particular situation, but in the long run it can make the person on the receiving end lose self-esteem, become depressed and distant and have bad feelings towards you. It is a major reason for most divorces as there’s only so much criticism an individual can take day in and day out. While the critical person might think he’s helping his friend or partner by pointing out the other’s inadequacies for improvement purposes, it can come across as attacks and create more friction. Examples of this kind of communication are when someone uses definitive words like “always” or “never” in your statements. “I’m always doing everything around here and you never help out!”

This conversation can make the listener become defensive which further breaks down the relationship. After weeks, months, years of repeatedly receiving critical remarks they protect themselves by putting up walls. They begin to feel like there’s no point in making change or improving themselves because they won’t be able to do anything right anyway. They stop really listening to the message and the tension continues to build until it results in divorce or even physical abuse.

In order to communicate more effectively, it’s important to take time to reflect and increase your self-awareness. Instead of conducting conversations by criticizing others in a one-sided manner, take some of the responsibility for the argument by working in a more collaborative way. People who are good at conflict management often utilize the following statements to immediately reduce tension, calm down the heat of the moment and lead the conversation on a path towards resolution:

1. “I can see what my part is in all of this.”

2. “I’m sorry. I reacted too strongly and didn’t mean to.”

3. “I might be wrong here, let’s talk about it.”

4. “If you could change my behavior, what would that be?”

5. “You have a valid point of view.”

6. “This is our problem, not your fault.”

7. “I still feel like I’m right, but I’m sorry for the way I reacted.”

8. “Is there anything else you want me to know?”

Keep in mind that every argument has two sides. Always take some time to calm down and try to get in a more positive frame of mind, reminding yourself of positive interactions with this person. When the other person understands that you are ready to listen, it shows that you care about the outcome. Sometimes it’s best to accept the fact that you have different points of view and stop putting one person in the “right” position and the other in the “wrong”.

Tips for Parental Anger Management This Summer!

It’s the beginning of summer and already some of us are wondering what we’re going to do with the kids home all summer. Long, lazy days can be fun and relaxing at first, but by mid-July, you might feel like you are going to blow if their rooms don’t cleaned up, they don’t start helping with chores and especially if they are whining about being bored. You might normally be a calm and reasonable person but our kids somehow possess the ability to trigger angry responses like no one else can. It’s important to remember that parental anger can have lasting and harmful effects on children. The child looks to the parent for a sense of self and when that person is calling them names, speaking disrespectfully or condescendingly or is exhibiting any kind of physical violence, it’s unsafe, demoralizing and hurtful to the child’s self-esteem.

As a responsible adult, you have the power to control and change your negative behavior before it results in a breakdown of your family life and have long-term detrimental effects on your child’s personality. If your angry behavior is starting to become an ongoing struggle, it might mean it’s time to learn new skills or take a refresher course to help you redirect and manage your responses. Investing some time in anger management classes for parents, parenting programs or 1/1 therapy are all helpful ways to get back on track to become the parent you would like to be.

Some quick tips to think about are as follows:

1. Set rules and boundaries at the beginning of the summer so there isn’t a question of what you expect from your kids. Have a family meeting to set up a chore list, reading list, acceptable bedtimes and whatever else you want to get done during the time off and that you perceive might grate on you. When the limits aren’t being followed, stop what you are doing and restate the rules before things unravel too far and you get angry.

2. Give yourself a time-out. When you find yourself losing it, walk away. Go for a run or a walk around the block, take a shower, or run an errand before you respond. Tell your child that you will talk to her when you’ve calmed down. Respond to the situation after you’ve had some time to think about it clearly and come up with positive solutions to the behavior.

3. Breathe, laugh, exercise. What helps you to quickly calm down? Have a go to list of ways to get yourself under control before lashing out. Try counting in your head to 30, taking 10 deep breathes; think of something funny, or a happy memory. Remind yourself that this moment is not an emergency and it too will pass.

4. Avoid making threats. Nothing undermines your authority more than saying things that you don’t follow-through on. If you say you are going to take away all electronics, do it. No playdates for a week? It’s harder on you, but it’s the only way the kids will learn to change their behavior in the long run. When you don’t enforce your punishments, the kids learn that you don’t really mean what you say, so there’s nothing for them to worry about.

5. Watch what you say and how you say it. When you speak calmly, it shows you are under control and gives you more power. Speak respectfully to your kids, the same way you would want them to speak to you. Using highly charged words or “always” and “nevers” creates unnecessary drama, is hurtful and is an ineffective of way of communicating with the ones you love.

Effective Anger Management Skills Help Improve Problem Solving Abilities

Anger is one way the body tells us to take action. It happens when our expectations about something or someone aren’t being met or when we feel hurt by another person’s actions. It can be a great source of energy that motivates us to solve problems, get over obstacles and get things accomplished. Think about times when you’ve received a poor grade on a test and it’s invigorated you to study harder for the next test. Or when you’ve been passed over for a promotion at work and it’s made you look for a better, more fulfilling job outside the company. In contrast, it can also be an extremely debilitating emotion when we respond by thinking, feeling or acting in an unrealistic or unsafe way. Our anger towards unmet goals can cause us to blame others and direct our aggression at them instead of using learned skills to overcome the feeling ourselves.

Anger management is generally something that we learn growing up. How did your parents react to situations they weren’t happy about? Did they pull out the belt or scream and lobby hurtful comments? Or, did take they calmly take time to respond after thinking things over and coming up with a reasonable solution? The role models you grew up with have a big part in how you manage your anger today. If you are ready to tame your temper, you must resolve to learn the appropriate techniques to manage it. Anger is a choice and saying that you can’t control yourself when you are mad is a poor excuse.

Learning anger management skills either in a classroom setting, online or with one-to-one therapy is about understanding how anger affects you, what triggers the emotions, increasing empathy, better communication and listening, having a more positive outlook and improving problem solving abilities.

Everyone has to face problems in life. When you have good judgment and problem-solving skills you are better able to manage the situation by evaluating the information at hand and considering different, appropriate ways to resolve it.

Some basic problem solving steps include:

1. Determine the problem.

2. Define it.

3. Look at various ways to fix it. Avoid guessing.

4. Make a plan, either on your own or in negotiation with the other party.

5. Analyze the consequences.

6. Check your progress.

6. Reconvene to make adjustments or move on.

The goal of problem solving isn’t necessarily to determine who is right and who is wrong. It’s to find a solution that the people involved can live with. When you’re angry you are looking for people to hear what you are saying. Screaming, yelling or using physical force usually sends people in the other direction. Instead, consider making an effort to calm down before responding. Communication with an open, clear and respectful conversation is essential so everyone involved feels safe and like their opinion counts. The collaborative approach can be insightful and inspiring. Learning to manage your anger will enhance every aspect of life from work to family to friendships.

Emotionally Healthy People Don't Hold Grudges

Let’s face it, walking around chronically mad is bad for your health and comes with a steep price. Why do we get so angry? Why do situations get blown out of proportion? Why is it sometimes so hard to control? For many people, it’s the same scenario over and over again. An unnerving situation arises which seems overpowering and results in feelings of hurt, embarrassment, confusion, fear and/or intimidation. It’s difficult to process the emotions because it feels like a losing battle so anger boils. The response is often completely understandablel like that of a recent client who wanted help overcoming a situation. She had been working 80 hours a week for months to make partner at her law firm and they overlooked her once again. Her unrelenting anger was bringing her down and she was ready to learn new skills to get it under control. She realized that taking the time to educate herself and to reflect more deeply before responding in an angry way would help put out the fire and prevent a grudge from forming.

Everyone has his or her own unique anger triggers. It might be another person’s erratic driving, your kids talking back to you when you ask them to do something, or just getting overlooked when you feel you deserve something. For example, your co-worker receives recognition for something you did, your husband forgets your wedding anniversary or your friend forgets your birthday when you always go all out for hers. The hostility may be understandable but in the long-term studies show that it contributes to anxiety, depression, heart conditions, a breakdown in the immune system causing more frequent colds, insomnia and even a higher risk of stroke. Definitely not worth it!

Learning how to get over that grudge and let go can help you live a healthier and happier life. Studies show that the act of forgiving reduces stress, anxiety, anger and depression. People who let things “roll off their backs” and choose to get past the obstacle have reduced blood pressure, fewer headaches, better sleep and get sick less often. It enables them to create stronger and closer relationships in every aspect of life and contributes to higher self-esteem.

While it may seem impossible, you can learn emotional forgiveness. Some key steps include:

1. Consider the situation from the other person’s point of view. In the case of the attorney, it may not be a personal situation at all, but simply a financial one. Even though it’s review time, the company may simply not be in a financial position to give promotions. Or, a friend forgetting your birthday might be because she’s going through a sickness or emotional turmoil in her own life.

2. Accept what happened. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with it or give in to it.

3. Overcome the negative emotions tied with it by choosing to forgive.

4. Continue on with your life. Constantly ruminating about it and carrying the anger around has absolutely no benefit.

What Triggers Your Anger?

What makes you angry? For parents it might be a child who just won’t listen. For teachers it’s the kids in the back of the class who insist on acting up, talking back disrespectfully and disrupting the entire classroom. Private business owners often have to deal with demanding customers, and in the corporate world it could be co-workers that don’t do their share of the daily work. When things aren’t working out the way you expect or want, it’s natural to get angry. The emotion helps us to motivate and confront the situation head on to try and resolve it rather than just letting it go. Those that are able to manage their anger generally wait until they’ve calmed down to deal with the situation and have a reasonable conversation about it. For example, you might be really angry about being passed up for a promotion. The appropriate way to respond would be to make an appointment to speak with your boss and then come prepared to have a respectful discussion about why you deserve it. A person without anger management skills might instead storm into the boss’s office and make unfair demands. In some situations, angry outbursts might win you the battle but over the long term this behavior is debilitating and ineffective. It weakens your relationships with friends, family and co-worker, causes health issues and decreases your problem solving abilities.

The first step in getting your anger under control is to become aware of what triggers it and what your behavioral cues are. Specifically, before someone goes into a rage there are generally some physical signs which include:

  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Heavy breathing
  • Clenched jaws
  • Grinding of the teeth
  • Becoming red in the face or feeling hot
  • Getting a headache
  • Shaking
  • Feeling a stomach coming on

Behaviorally you also might:

  • Become abrasive
  • Raise your voice
  • Glare at the other person
  • Start crying
  • Get serious but sarcastic
  • Crave alcohol or drugs to help you calm down
  • Pace
  • Become impatient and unable to listen
  • Shout hurtful words

Before letting these feelings overcome you, realize you are about to lose it and walk away. Change your environment and do not respond. Take a short walk, get some water, step out into the fresh air and gather yourself. Think about the big picture and consider whether this is really as big of a deal as you are making it out to be. Play out the best and worst case scenarios in your head to help you get perspective on the situation. Take deep breaths to help you calm down. Then brainstorm potential solutions to discuss once you have relaxed. Also, changing your thoughts from extremes like always and never and replacing them with a more optimistic thought pattern will help overcome an angry outburst.

If you are open to investing the time and energy into learning basic anger management skills, you will find yourself in a happier, less anxious state of mind. Going to an anger management class, taking one online, reading a good anger management book or engaging in one-to-one therapy are some suggestions to help you start the process.