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Basic Tips To Gain Self-Control

Think about the last time you responded to someone or something that was making you angry. Did you take some deep breaths and walk away from the situation until you could calm down and discuss it? Did you absorb it by not saying anything at all, hoping it would go away? Or, did you react in a loud, aggressive manner? I once worked in an office in which the VP of Marketing just could not contain his emotions. Employees were afraid to talk to him, he often screamed and yelled and one time he even walked down the hall throwing yellow file folders filled with paper in the air as he stormed out. It was something you might see in a movie and we couldn’t believe we were actually witnessing it. All the time and energy the group had put into devising a new marketing program for a client was strewn all over the office. We shook our heads, cleaned it up and the next day he acted like the scene never happened. This went on for over a year until he finally was transferred out of the department and everyone sighed with relief. Now that it’s many years later, I can see that this behavior didn’t bode well for him. He never got himself under control and was eventually let go because of a huge corporate downsizing. For the next couple of years he looked for a similar position in the same industry, but he had established such a bad reputation that he couldn’t find one and ended up retiring.

In this particular situation, the manager had grown up in a hot-headed Italian family and this is the way he learned from his adult role models to deal with any obstacles that got in the way of the outcome he was looking for. However, what he never came to realize is that he didn’t need to spend his entire career in this pattern, and neither do you. Research shows that we can learn techniques to regulate ourselves. Instead of responding to immediate impulses, we can change this response by improving our self-control.

Self-control is not something that everyone has from birth. Instead, it can be developed by becoming aware of our actions and taking personal responsibility to resist negative urges. So, if you feel like you don’t have any self-control, it’s most likely true but with practice, it is something you can master.

Experts agree that are some basic tips to consider when trying to embark on learning this new skill:

1. Meditate. Sit quietly for 1 minute to 10 minutes every morning, close your eyes and count your breaths to 10, over and over again. Take time to focus your thoughts to gain an inner calm.

2. Stay hydrated and eat small meals throughout the day. If you let yourself get hungry and you blood sugar level drops, you are more likely to act thoughtlessly.

3. Get enough sleep. This helps to improve your memory and make you feel more clear and in a better mood.

4. Exercise. Getting moving helps the body to reduce stress and improve mood by releasing endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body. If you are feeling particularly angry, go for a run, play some tennis, enjoy a swim, or do some housework before responding in an uncontrolled manner.

5. Educate yourself.  Reading books on anger management, taking anger control classes or meeting one on one with a therapist can provide the skills you need to address and overcome the detrimental behavior.

Four Ingredients Necessary To Alter Angry Behavior

As we herald in 2014, many people take this time to make resolutions on how they will improve or change things in the New Year. It might be overcoming an addiction, slowing down a hectic schedule, losing weight or getting your angry behavior under control. Let’s face it, we all get stuck in routines and habits that may not be the best for us, but seem to be the easiest or most satisfying. Making a change is challenging and it can be stressful at times to get yourself out of these unhealthy routines, but it is possible. In fact, research has shown that there are a few key ingredients that we need to put in place in order to successfully alter our behavior and thinking to make long-term positive differences.

If anger has become a problem in your life and it’s making you unhappy, then now is as good a time as ever to change your ways. If you take a moment to reflect on the bigger picture, you will see that anger is generally a learned behavior. Some people possess healthy ways to deal with anger because they had strong role models who taught them how to calmly and respectfully resolve conflicts during their childhood. Others grew up in homes in which violent or aggressive behavior got others around them to back down quickly without having to compromise, or have to spend the time to work things out. These people just don’t know any other way to handle obstacles or hurtful situations.

One of the biggest reasons that individuals don’t change their own behavior to fix problems in their life is because they are busy putting the blame on everyone else. It’s my husband’s fault because he is always late, or my wife can’t keep the house in order. Sound familiar? In order to make change in your life, it’s necessary to take ownership of your responses. Reframing your thinking and the way you talk to yourself in your mind can change your behavior but you can’t passively hope it will happen. Some key ingredients to transforming your life include:

1. Understand that change is a choice. You need to want to take the plunge and be open to learning new information about the topic. It’s going to take work.

2. You must be motivated and committed. It might be a legal matter that finally pushed you into getting your anger under control, or your own desire. Either way you have to be ready to take action. This might include difficult choices like changing your social group or throwing all your past beliefs out the window to start over.

3. Education is key to change. To learn how to rethink how you deal with anger, you will need to take the time to learn new skills by taking classes, meeting 1/1 with a therapist or by reading books. You must have the knowledge to understand why you should change (health benefits, relationship building, improved happiness) and the tools necessary to implement the new behavior (stress management, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution skills).

4. Reframe your thoughts. If you continue to think that the only way you can “win” an argument is through intense anger, then you give yourself the reason it’s okay to exhibit uncontrolled behavior. You can stop this habit by learning what triggers your anger and how to understand the other person’s point of view. For example, instead of screaming at your wife to clean the house, think about her busy day, her health or whatever reasons might have caused the lack of time to clean up. Put yourself in her shoes for a moment and then approach her with a positive solution rather than an aggressive outburst.

Incorrect Assumptions Can Lead To Chronic Anger

People get angry everyday. It can be about the kids leaving a mess, or someone driving too slowly in the fast lane, a girlfriend that cheats on you or somebody who cuts in front of you in the movie or supermarket line. Especially infuriating can be when you’ve worked really hard and a colleague gets the promotion you were vying for. Anger generally stems from the feeling of being mistreated and results in blaming someone or something else for the perceived treatment. Many people have the skills to turn their anger into a positive experience by using it to start a good discussion with the boss about what they could improve on for their future success, or resolve an ongoing issue with a spouse by calmly communicating their feelings. It can be a positive motivator to help you get things off your chest and at least make you feel better. However, some people express their anger in high conflict and inappropriate ways that are harmful and scary to everyone involved.

People who have problems with anger control usually don’t understand that they can choose how they respond. In many cases, angry people start with the premise that they just can’t help it and expect that others will understand that they don’t really mean it. It’s all the traffic, their lack of rest, or their stress level that is making them react in such a way and others should be able to empathize with what they are going through. Angry people also believe that feelings of frustration, hurt, anxiety or fear are unacceptable instead of something they might learn from, so they stay angry to avoid the pain of the situation.

In many circumstances, people with anger management problems grew up in homes in which they witnessed their parents screaming and yelling. They may have been hit as punishment or verbally put down in front of others and this is all they know. They think that this is these are the only ways to stop a conflict, however in the end it just makes for an unhappy life. The reality is that chronic anger creates more stress in life, makes you feel unsettled and irritable and can be physically debilitating.

So how do angry people change their ways? The key is to change these assumptions and utilize anger management techniques to change your thinking. Start by owning your behavior and accept that you are in control of how you respond to things. Take a look around and look for the blessings in your life rather than focusing on the negative. When you start to feel the rage boiling, give yourself a time-out and go for a walk, count to ten or talk to someone else who can help you figure out the situation before you respond to the person you are angry with. Instead of starting an argument with demands and threats, explain calmly and clearly why you are feeling angry and then listen to the other person’s point of view. Giving the other person your complete attention will show respect and might even help you understand their behavior. Utilizing anger management skills and getting your temper under control is a New Years resolution worth enforcing now.

Anger Management Training Could Cure Your Children's Sibling Rivalry!

For anyone who comes from a family of multiple children, you know that rivalry with your siblings is inevitable at some point during the years you are all under one roof. It’s normal that siblings might be very different and everything one does might be incredibly frustrating to another. Honestly, they are vying over the attention of one or both parents and sometimes feel like the only way to get it is to cause a scene. The examples are endless, a younger sister or brother is always getting off easy or is seemingly favored, or the oldest is the smartest and it’s impossible to follow in their footsteps. The feeling of being treated unfairly starts to build and if left unchecked turns into anger. Many families notice the ramp up of bitterness in one child or both, but ignore it hoping that the kids will get over it. This is a mistake because the feelings may get swept under the rug for now, but will eventually come out again with even more intensity. Research shows that kids who are allowed to fight and have negative relationships, generally take this with them into adulthood.

Rivalry and jealousy are feelings that we all have throughout our lives. As parents, the best thing we can do for our kids is to teach them how to handle the anger and negative feelings that come along with these emotions. Some common parenting mistakes that can contribute to the escalation of the fighting include taking sides and/or only paying attention when the arguments begin.

Instead, here are some quick tips for parents to take into consideration to be proactive or diffuse sibling rivalary situations:

1. Get involved as you notice the anger building. Hold family meetings to talk to your kids about the teasing, hostile words, or physically aggressive behavior you are witnessing. These regularly planned get togethers also give a child a chance to voice his/her feelings about how they are being treated. Give them advice on how to handle situations that are bothering them in more appropriate ways.

2. Teach them healthy responses when they are in the moment. These include walking away and taking a time-out from the situation to think things through before responding, taking deep breaths and counting to ten, and/or getting an adult to intervene. Anger management classes are available specifically geared towards adolescents to teach them anger control techniques they can use throughout their life.

3. If they’ve already lost it, there’s no point in trying to reason with them. At this point they can’t think logically, so wait until they calm down to have the discussion.

4. Don’t choose who is right and who is wrong. Hold both kids responsible or you might just perpetuate the “victim’s” angry feelings. Realistically, one child might start the argument but the other is participating and contributing to it as well.

5. Promote empathy. Help your children to understand the other’s point of view. For example, explain to your soccer champion that flaunting his trophy wildly in his brother’s face might make his brother feel like an underachiever or that he’s not as talented.

5. Come up with a family plan so your kids know what is expected of them. Children thrive with boundaries and limits. Explain clearly how you expect them to relate to one another and what constitutes punishment. If they hit the limit of bad behavior, follow through with the repercussions you’ve decided on.

6. Try not to compare. Praise children equally, based on their own abilities, not in relation to that of a sibling. Comparisons only promote hostility and jealousy.

Unlike friends, siblings are forever. Promoting a sense of teamwork and support of each other will help to reduce rivalry and create a strong foundation into adulthood.

Anger Assessments Are The First Step In Addressing Anger Issues

It’s been almost a year since a troubled 20 year old took his mother’s life and then went on to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, murdering 20 young children, 6 educators and then himself. While we’ll never know Adam Lanza’s exact motives for firing more than 150 rounds of bullets in less than 5 minutes, we do know that he had serious mental health and anger management issues. His mother was aware of them and worked closely in ways she felt appropriate to best handle his behavior. According to emails from her computer, she found violent pictures in his bedroom just a few weeks before the incident occurred. She was upset about the finding and was considering how to confront him about it prior to the massacre.

Of course this is an extreme situation, but it provokes the question, when is anger normal and at what point should another adult step in? Often times people have anger management problems but they don’t think that they do, so they don’t take any action. Or, they know they have issues but don’t know where to even begin to improve their behavior. As a good friend, loved one, caregiver or parent, you can start the discussion by asking the individual to take an anger management assessment. These evaluations help to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in impulse control and decision making abilities. Participants will get an idea of how their ability to manage stress measures up, what their capacity to understand the effects of their anger is on others, how effective they are at communicating feelings and showing empathy for others, and how appropriate their angry reactions are. Once completed, a licensed therapist can evaluate the results and make suggestions on how to proceed.

Some signs of anger problems include:

1. Do you find yourself in arguments with those around you either at work, at school, with friends, or at home on a frequent basis?

2. Do you often blame other people for your problems?

3. Do you have trouble forgiving people or getting over things that people did to you in your past?

4. Do you lose physical control or emotional control when you get angry? This includes blood pressure rising, clammy hands, fogginess, headaches and/or yelling, screaming or hitting.

5. Are people afraid of you when you get angry?

6. Do you regret your actions when you get angry?

7. Does your anger cause you to feel depressed or anxious?

8. Do you use alcohol or drugs when you feel angry?

9. Do you get enraged when driving?

10. Have others told you that you need help?

There is no need to go through life with feelings of chronic anger. Answering these questions honestly and clearly can help identify how to appropriately tackle the problem. Taking an educational anger management class or one-on-one therapy can teach individuals how to retrain their brain to think in a more positive way. Don’t wait until relationships are crumbling around you or the legal system gets involved, address anger management issues today!