By Linda K. Laffey, MFT

Are you struggling for Self-Control? In a vacuum, anger is not automatically a bad thing.  In daily life, however, it can be a nightmare.  Context matters, and so does control.  Without a solid amount of self-control, anger might negatively impact families, relationships, careers, and more.  In fact, the most urgent aspect of anger just might be anger management.

How Anger Can Impact Lives

Relationships

Everyone in the life of an angry person is forced to deal with their lack of self-control.  This puts all kinds of relationships at risk and breeds:

  • Fear
  • Resentment
  • Distance
  • Distrust

Emotional Health

An inability to handle anger appropriately hurts more than those around you.  Chronic anger issues have been shown to seriously increase risks for anxiety and/or depression.  These mental health conditions, in turn, can make it more difficult to manage one’s anger.  From there, the cycle speeds up.

Physical Health

Not enough has been said about the role of anger in physical disease. Research has found a link between uncontrollable anger and many dangerous conditions and symptoms, e.g.

  • Decreased lung function
  • Compromised immune system
  • Increased risk of stroke and heart attack

In the two hours directly after an episode of anger, your heart attack risk is two times higher than under normal circumstances.  The combination of stress and anger (expressed or suppressed) is a documented cause of a shorter life span.

5 Ways to Handle Anger More Appropriately

  1. Identify Triggers

You might want to keep a regular journal to track angry outbursts—and what preceded them.  Learning to recognize triggers before they can set you off is a giant step towards self-control.  In some cases, those triggers could include what you ingest, e.g. alcohol, drugs, or even coffee.  Take back control by better understanding your own patterns.

  1. Take a Time-Out

Walking away is not cowardice, surrender, or concession.  Choosing a time-out is how you can take some deep breaths and reevaluate the situation.  Time and distance are your friends.

  1. Hone Your Listening Skills

People prone to anger may begin to hear attacks and confrontations where they don’t even exist.  The better you are at active listening, the less likely you are to default to an angry outburst.  Try hearing and validating others’ points of view.

  1. Basic, Daily Self-Care

The best version of you is someone who can control anger in a positive, healthy way.  To become the best version of you, treat yourself with care…self-care.  A day-to-day regimen should contain variations of the following elements:

  • Regular sleep patterns
  • Healthy eating habits
  • Daily activity and exercise
  • Relaxation techniques and stress management
  1. Don’t Seek to Suppress Anger

Anger management does not mean you never get angry.  It also doesn’t mean you pretend you’re not angry.  Pushing down anger will hurt you physically and mentally.  It will hurt others when it inevitably explodes. Identify and accept your anger while maintaining control over it.  There is no shame in feeling any common emotion.  The goal is to find a balance between such emotions and the behavior they can provoke.

Sometimes It Takes Two to Manage

Anger management rarely, if ever, is a one-person task.  The process requires support, guidance, and accountability.  An increasingly common path in this direction involves therapy.  Working through weekly sessions with a skilled counselor creates an environment for positive change.  The angry person must identify their triggers and cultivate new approaches.  It is a journey filled with trial and error.  Having someone there to discuss all these steps and missteps is essential.  Tackling self-control and anger issues is a worthy but daunting challenge. The good news is that help is available.  In fact, it’s just a phone call or a click away!

Take the first step…

If you are ready to address the anger that may be negatively impacting your life, I would like to help.  Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Linda K. Laffey, MFT