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Changing Your Self-Talk Can Help Reduce Chronic Anger

by Dr. Ari Novick April 1, 2015

Most of us would agree that anger doesn’t feel good. It can make us feel hot and sweaty, put our stomach in knots, make our body start to tremble and our thinking turn to a hazy fog. When we finally calm down, emotional and sometimes even physical damage is done and we wonder how we possibly created such a mess! The lack of control may have resulted in trouble with the law, employer or family and friends and the person is done living this way, ready to make a change.

In many instances, the way a person deals with his or her anger was learned from their childhood. They observed how their caregiver’s handled stress, obstacles and irritations and followed suit. The good news is that learned behavior can also be unlearned with desire and commitment. We can develop new ways to handle our angry behavior and get our lives back by interrupting and changing the ingrained negative response. We can gain the knowledge and power to choose a more positive outcome!

Change starts from within and most anger management classes emphasize that developing a more positive attitude can help to more constructively deal with daily life. This starts with changing the way the individual thinks about and frames things in his own mind. For example, instead of imagining that someone deliberately cut him off on the freeway because that person is self-centered, the thought would be that maybe that person simply didn’t see him. Or instead of feeling constantly overwhelmed that he can never get his desk cleared of work, take a look at everything that was accomplished that day.

Other simple ways to reduce chronic anger include:

1. Improve organization. Take time the night before to iron work clothes, prepare lunches, remind the kids to put everything in their backpacks by the front door, and have your phone charged to help alleviate morning stress.

2. Wake up 10 minutes earlier than the rest of your family. Take this time to meditate, think about the day ahead, stretch and relax before everyone else jumps out of bed.

3. Exercise. Exercise is a great stress reliever. It leads to improved health and self-confidence, which in turn makes a happier person.

4. Don’t skip meals. Keeping the body fueled also helps maintain emotional balance and blood sugar levels. Eating a healthy breakfast can change your outlook on the entire day.

5. Count your blessings. Take a few minutes each morning to acknowledge all that you have.

6. Do at least one thing to help someone else each day. This can include a simple compliment, donating money, volunteering in your child’s classroom, physically assisting an injured person or someone elderly through the heavy glass doors and to the elevator, stopping to help someone with directions, giving an employee a second chance or picking up some groceries on your way home from work to alleviate the chore for your spouse. Giving to others is fulfilling and boosts energy and positive feelings.

When you change your negative self-talk and replace it with positive, energy boosting behaviors, you will see a noticeable drop in your level of anger.

About the author

Ari Novick, Ph.D. is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Anger Management Professional and trainer.

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