Anger Management Tips
‘Any tips on controlling anger?' asks Jen. ‘I've tried exercising to release the energy, journaling for the feelings, but nothing has helped all that much.'
Anger is a perfectly normal feature of the human condition and by its very nature we tend to feel justified in expressing anger at times of frustration, stress or fear. Anger is one of the most expressive signs of discomfort. Its effect is to vent negative emotions but, as everyone knows, it also causes the person on the receiving end to feel unsettled and upset. Most people prefer to avoid situations that result in confrontation. For this reason it may lead to unreasonable levels of compliance on the part of the recipient in their attempts to placate or smooth over situations that might otherwise result in an outburst. This may work for a time but intolerance tends to be a hungry beast which quickly finds new things to feed on.
Anger is also a common feature of mania. Any challenge to plans being hatched or projects being undertaken can be met with a sharp tongue or a torrent of abuse. The vehicle for this is likely to be the intolerance that sometimes accompanies grandiose thought processes associated with mania. People with bipolar often comment on their absolute certainty and confidence during periods of mania. Creativity is a well known outcome of mania but it can come at something of a cost. During a time of mania everyday events can appear incredibly slow and mundane. Minor errors, or the speed at which you are served in a shop, can easily and rapidly go off the hair-pulling scale.
The sometimes indiscriminate nature of anger is one of the most obvious signs of illness. Not everyone flies into a rage at every opportunity, but the barbed and acidic comments that may be leveled at a partner can become toxic over time and serve to undermine even the most tolerant of people. When Jen asks about tips for controlling anger it seems clear she's already been looking into the issue and has tried exercise and journals. I hope she hasn't decided to throw in the towel as these two things can be really quite useful and it shows that Jen is taking charge of her own situation. They are however only a couple of tools in the box and so Jen might need a few more ideas to help cope with her anger emotions.
There are no end of tips that might be suggested so I'm going to select a few and hope that people reading this might contribute their own ideas. Let's start with the lead up to anger. It might be useful for Jen to revisit the events and situations that help trigger her feelings of anger. Are they certain people, financial arrangements, household chores, etc. It's impossible to erase everything that causes irritations but it may be possible to consider ways of avoiding or dealing with some of these issues so they don't escalate.
A major source of anger is other people. The tip here is to work on methods that defuse potentially difficult situations before they develop. Instead of reacting, try leaving the room. Make yourself pause before responding. The fact that you can remember to pause suggests that you are in control of your emotions, not the other way around. In social situations avoid alcohol.
So, you've left the room and you're still fuming, now what? Your angry side is urging you to go back and let rip - but as you've come this far - so let's think through a few more positive options. Take a couple of deep breaths. Try to consider whether the situation you've just walked away from is really so terrible. Gaining perspective is all a part of gaining mastery over your environment. So let's assume your actions have effectively defused a potentially angry confrontation. That's excellent, but let's not pretend you haven't been affected. You maybe need a way to express your anger. Jen has been using a journal and this is a well researched and effective method to express emotions. It doesn't necessarily for work for everyone however, and sometimes you need a shoulder to cry on or a friend you can trust to talk things out.
In this Sharepost I've focused on a certain level or intensity of anger that is within the grasp of the individual to control. Clearly, if anger leads to thoughts of suicide, self-harm or harm to others, it is time to seek out professional help.