Anger is an emotion that is useful and necessary as well as harmful. We teach anger management skills as well as interventions for resolving the underlying reasons for an individual’s anger
INOCULATE YOURSELF AGAINST ANGER AND AGGRESSION
by Dr. Susan Mendelsohn
Do people tell you that you need to CALM DOWN?
Do you have trouble sleeping?
Do you turn to food, smoking or drinking in an attempt to calm down?
Do you feel tense much of the time?
Do you feel that you don’t get a chance to say what’s on your mind at work?
Do you feel misunderstood or not listened to much of the time?
Do people have to tell you to stop yelling or cursing?
If you answered “YES!” to some of these questions, you may be struggling with underlying anger. Anger is one of the most misunderstood and overused of human emotions. Anger is a reaction to an inner emotion rather than a planned action. Anger is an easier emotion to show than expressing your true underlying feelings.
The feelings underlying the anger reaction are what make us feel vulnerable and weak. Anger makes us feel — at least momentarily — strong and in control. Anger can be an immediate reaction to an isolated event or it can be a response after numerous events.
To repress anger is unhealthy and yet to express it impulsively, as we so often do, may give temporary relief, but inevitably will carry negative consequences. To alter our responses, we need to understand from where our anger comes.
There are a variety of places. For example, as children, if we have seen our parents get angry first and resolve an issue afterwards, we are more likely to use the same approach. If we are frustrated and feel stressed, we are more likely to react with anger. If we are tired or hungry, we are more prone to react in an angry fashion. Finally, if we tend to hold our feelings inside rather than talk them out, we are more likely to have an angry outburst (picture a pressure cooker).
Angry behaviors are constantly being learned. But anger can be unlearned…and replaced with healthier patterns of coping. Stress-inoculation is one method of coping. Self-exploration is the first step.
Ask yourself if there are particular situations that seem to be most irritating to you. Do they occur at a particular time of day or with certain people? Is there a specific mood that may contribute to these feelings? The major coping skills at this level involve sidestepping these situations. Keep a journal for several weeks in order to learn to recognize your “triggers.”
Next, the degree of anger we experience may be mediated by our thinking. If we approach the world in an unrealistic manner, we can make situations worse for ourselves, leading to unnecessary anger.
Therefore, changing the way in which you appraise certain events will help you deter your feelings of aggression. Instead of using the words “should” or “can’t,” how about implementing words like “would like to” or “am choosing not to,” respectively? Beliefs about a particular situation can be the fuel for success or destruction.
Finally, deep breathing and progressive relaxation techniques are useful. They can reduce the physiological arousal behind anger. Practice the techniques by imagining yourself in an anger-provoking situation. Feel the arousal. Then employ a relaxation technique such as deep breathing. Once you master this through imagination, you will be able to apply it to real life, anger-provoking situations.
Relaxation Tools for Anger Management
1. Do relaxation exercises to reduce tension
2. Relax before a potentially hot situation
3. Repeat a positive Affirmation
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