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Integrative Health, Psychology and Relationship Support

Life-Skills: Anger Management

Posted by: Dr. Tina Morse PsyD, MFT

Topic: Beauty & Fashion, Emotions, Passion & Purpose, Life Support

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Photo: Life Dr. ®

When I was growing up anger looked very scary and (in fact), ugly to me. …I never wanted to look like that but learned (over time) that feeling upset or angry is natural and it’s part of being human.

What matters is how you convey the message of what you are feeling to others.

When you come to realize that underneath angry feelings …are hurt feelings, your relationship to anger improves and it all feels much less threatening.

You can learn to be friends with anger as it is trying to share something important with you. This is a guest post by Lloyd J Thomas, Ph.D.

Tina Morse
Of all the human emotions, anxiety is the most difficult to manage constructively. Almost all “anxiety disorders” have a large component of anger. We are often more anxious about our anger than any other experienced emotion. We also use anger as a social defense against revealing our fears.

Anger naturally occurs in us all under 4 basic conditions: when we feel threatened; when frustrated; when we are being hurt; and when we are needy. When we feel thwarted in some way (frustrated), our bodies respond with what we label “anger.” Anger offers us instant energy to address a perceived threat; to go over, under, around or through the blockage of our goal-directed behavior; to get rid of what is hurting us; or to empower us to address our needs. When we experience anger under these conditions, we are using our anger response as it was meant to be used.

Unfortunately, anger often inappropriately “goes off” in reaction to your perceptions and your internal “self-talk.” It is a common misconception that others “make” you angry. It is always your interpretations of what others do and say and your internal commentary that stimulates your anger.

Usually your interpretations and internal monologue contain distortions about any given situation.
Examples of cognitive distortions which commonly stimulate anger include:

1. Black-or-white thinking. When you seen things as “all good or all bad”…all one extreme or the opposite extreme, you react in an extreme way with anger.

2. Labeling or “name calling.” When you refer to yourself or another as a “jerk” or “stupid” or some other negative label, you “write them off” in a way which fails to recognize the whole person.

3. Intensification. When you blow something up, way out of proportion, you increase your sense of being wronged, victimized or frustrated. Your angry response is fueled by such magnification.

4. Sense of entitlement. When you believe you deserve to get whatever you want, that everything should come easily, or that life should always be fair, your belief is that you are fundamentally entitled to complete gratification of your needs or wants all the time. This non-rational belief generates a lot of frustration and consequent anger.

Consequences of withholding anger for a long period of time (suppression) are usually unpleasant at best and self-damaging at worst. Some of the consequences of anger suppression can include an increase in generalized anxiety; depression; physical symptoms such as headache, back pain, even ulcers and an increase in blood pressure.

Additional signs of withheld anger are self-criticism or self-deprecation; magnifying what’s wrong with your life while discounting what’s good; complaining about problems without taking any action; passive-aggressive behavior such as procrastination or always being late; blaming yourself or others; or worrying about the future instead of enjoying the present.

Some skills for managing your anger constructively include: learning to communicate angry feelings assertively rather than aggressively; overcoming your fear of alienating people you care about when you acknowledge your anger and let it show; give up always having to “be nice” or “please others” in order to feel secure yourself; stop “disasterizing” about what you think might happen if you let your anger out; and finally learn to discriminate different behaviors for different levels of intensity of your anger, e.g. if enraged, pound pillows while screaming; when less angry, talk it out with someone; when annoyed or irritated, merely announce your anger. Using anger constructively is not easy. However, the power of your angry energy need not be frightening. The capacity to experience anger is within everyone. Mismanagement of your anger can be destructive. Practicing effective ways of anger management can be highly rewarding.

Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D. has 30+ years experience as a Life Coach and Licensed Psychologist. E-mail: DrLloyd@CreatingLeaders.com or LJTDAT@aol.com


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