Anger management techniques - learning how to effectively manage your feelings of frustration and anger
How to control the anger (includes free anger management worksheet)
Feeling angry and frustrated too often and/or too severely? If so, I'm really pleased you're searching for anger management tips.
Because the more emotional we become as human beings, the more unpredictable we are. You may well have experienced that already and, if so, I suspect that deep down the red mist has really scared you.
Maybe you're well aware that you're hurting the people around you, and that your temper's always on a short fuse. Maybe you know that people feel insecure when they're with you, never knowing what kind of mood you'll be in and how you'll react. Maybe you feel insecure too, and always at the mercy of your anger.
At one end of the scale and when it's under control, anger is a natural and potentially useful reaction. Somewhere in the middle, it helps you achieve the seemingly impossible. And at the other end of the scale, it kills.
Only you know at which point you're deliberately out to hurt someone and when you're beyond your own control. Either way, it's time for some anger management counselling or to attend a course on learning to deal with that rage.
My aim is to help you to understand what's happening to you, and learn what you can do about it both immediately and in the long-term. I therefore hope that the information in this article will set you off on the right track.
Watch this short video with anger management techniques for when you're about to explode
Then read this article for a ton of anger management tips and advice...
Before you consider anything else - could your medication be the cause of your problem?
If you’re on tablets that play havoc with your mental state, there's little point in you going for anger management counselling. You won’t stand a chance of gaining control if your meds are sabotaging your attempts to overcome your rage.
Doubtless, you’ll be attaching your anger to something or someone. But it's possible that your feelings have nothing to do with what happened in that particular moment. Afterwards, you may not even remember what the problem was in the first place!
It may be that your medication is contributing to you feeling - or even causing you to feel - anything from mildly irritable to completely out of control with rage, even over seemingly nothing at all! So, the first thing you’ll need to do is to check the side effects.
Prescribed medication and anger
What kind of medication can cause anything from mild irritability to an absolute rage?
Any of these can (but do carefully check the side-effects of any medication you’re taking):
- Adderall to treat ADHD and narcolepsy (also used as a recreational drug)
- Lamotrigine (brand name lamictal) to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorder
- Antidepressants from the SSRI family, i.e. they're prescribed not only for depression, but for a whole variety of mood disorders. They're often prescribed for anger problems, but I really don't think they're the best treatment for that
- Betablockers to treat high blood pressure and heart problems
- Statins to treat high cholesterol
- Benzodiazepines prescribed for anxiety and sleep problems
Are you taking any recreational drugs?
Recreational drugs include:
- Stimulants such as cocaine, marihuana (yes, the newer version!) methamphetamine, amphetamine and synthetics nicknamed bath salts and spice”
- Hallucinogens such as LSD and PCP.
Anger and depression are linked. And if you are using recreational drugs, I wouldn't be at all surprised if you're, very sadly, suffering from depression too. So I really hope this article is going to be of use to you, if only to nudge you in the direction of professional help.
Why you might need a brain scan
Sounds scary and rather dramatic, doesn't it?
But you may have, knowingly or unknowingly, suffered a (minor) head injury, and one of the symptoms of that is rapid and seemingly uncontrollable changes of mood.
Could you have:
- fallen on your head as a child or an adult,
- had an accident after which a brain injury may or may not have been diagnosed,
- been hit on the head by someone,
- or have you played a sport such as boxing, rugby or football (now known to cause brain problems)?
There may be another underlying factor - a bit of a tricky one. Watch the video below to find out why...
Let's now try to discover more about what might be going on for you as an individual.
What did you learn?
Here are some more potential contributing factors...
Why you maybe getting so angry
To start with, I want to help you by giving you some clear direction in your self help journey. Your first step is to explore in a little bit more detail what your anger looks like.
These are the questions I'd ask you if you came to me for anger management counselling. Feel free to grab a pen and paper, and let's get started...
Anger management worksheet
Whatever the cause of your anger, I'd guess that you're really struggling to find ways to manage it.
Therefore, I've developed this worksheet to help you increase your awareness and start to conquer the problem.
Fight or flight, or tend and befriend?
Let me explain the psychology of what happens to your mind/body when you lose it.
Why the need?
Because the more you understand the psychology of it all, the better your chance of gaining control and even overcoming the problem completely.
It is vital you understand the following...
When you're seething, your brain goes into survival mode . It adopts a better to be safe than sorry approach - fight or flight.
Shelley Taylor discovered in her research that this flight/fight mechanism is true particularly for men*. Women, she says, have on the whole a very different emergency response - they are more likely to tend and befriend.
In any case, the effects are:
- black and white, all or nothing thinking,
- loss of objectivity,
- loss of context,
- narrow focus of attention, locked often on something insignificant (though not necessarily so of course),
- inability to consider other people's points of view.
Think about how dangerous that can be! You may hardly know what you're doing in that moment. You could even have an anger blackout and forget what you've done whilst in the grip of the red mist.
So, you can see that there's no point in discussing any subject when you're in such a trance state.
How to control anger with hypnosis
The good news is that as human beings we can make use or our innate tendency and ability to go into a trance state.
Therefore, I highly recommend that you have a look at how you can help yourself with a self-hypnosis download. Self-hypnosis is a really effective, user-friendly and affordable aid to making permanent changes.
Are these anger management tips right for you?
Know that I write the following without any judgement. Remember, my aim is truly to help you...
How to deal with anger when you think you're going to lose it
There are times when you just know in advance that you're going to get into trouble. Here are some anger management tips to help you make those occasions more manageable:
- Set a time limit on a difficult discussion.
- Deal with one subject at a time.
- Agree to stay calm for that time.
- Plan time to relax and have fun after the discussion (use my fun relationship quizzes).
- Plan to do some aerobic exercise immediately afterwards.
- Learn to apologise sincerely.
For more information on how to have a decent conversation about tricky subjects, see my article How to stop constant arguing in a relationship.
Do you feel provoked?
Below is a list of potential provocations. It comes with a cautionary note, though: depending on how you act out your anger, a provocation is not an excuse for you to lose it. However, the list may help you to identify any patterns in your behaviour relating to your anger getting out of control.
You can also use this list to help yourself become aware of how much you use these kinds of behaviours and ways of communicating. It's possible that you set people off to become defensive (i.e. provocative) by the way you treat or talk to them.
Anger management tips to help your stay cool, calm and relaxed
How to avoid becoming angry in the first place
- Avoid making assumptions or jumping to conclusions at all costs.
- Keep focusing on what's being said.
- Avoid interruptions with: "Yes, but", or "No, I don't....".
- Check what was meant before you respond.
- Remain respectful regardless of someone else's reactions or opinions.
- Avoid wanting to be right - this is one of my best anger management tips.
- Avoid holding a monologue - i.e. talking without listening carefully.
- Avoid provocations (see box above).
These self-help tips are useful in any situation where something becomes too much and you can't take it anymore. All of these tips are the things I'd be teaching you if you were here with me right now for anger management counselling.
Once you get a grip on your anger, you'll find that any relationship problems become far more manageable.
I also encourage you not to bottle things up. Talk to someone, ask for relationship advice, be that from a wise, non-judgemental person in your surroundings or a professional counsellor.
Whatever the reason for your over-the-top displeasure, take courage from the fact that you can learn to control and process your emotions. The anger management techniques on this page are designed to point you in the right direction. Allow yourself the time and space you need to get to the root of your anger, and figure out how to heal old wounds or deal with current stresses.
And ask for help and support if you need it, either from loved ones, friends or a professional. It will take a little time and some consistent, conscious effort - but I know you can sort this, and I'm rooting for you!
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*Azar, B. A new stress paradigm for women. American Psychological Association, 2000, via APA
**U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office on Women's Health: Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
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