Divergent Counselling

Managing your anger in 2020: A three-step strategy for success

Explosive. Scary. Feels like I’m a different person. These are all terms you might use to describe the times you get angry. You know that anger is a problem for you, but you just aren’t sure how to go about making changes.

It’s no surprise that feelings of anger are on the rise for people today, regardless of your life situation, background or gender. The expectations placed on people ranging from work, school, family and relationships often mean that people are unable to cope with everything that is going on. Or, people are able to cope really well, by stuffing our feelings down inside. The problem with this approach is that something will come along that causes people to snap: like the straw that breaks the camels back.

The important thing to know is that recovery from ongoing feelings of anger is possible, and 2020 is your year to make this happen. At Divergent Counselling, anger management is one of our areas of specialty and we are ready to help you with this as soon as you are ready.

Here are 3 of our most recommended approaches to managing your anger:

1. Recognizing and working on your stress levels.

What is stress? When we hear the word stress, we automatically think that it is something negative. “I’m so stressed out”, and, “I don’t need this stress”, are terms that you might hear yourself saying often. But not all stress is bad. There is also good stress, or stress that is motivating. For example, it is a good thing to want to get to work on time, or to make sure you study hard enough to get a passing mark on a safety exam.

The trouble for people with anger management issues is that the bad type of stress tends to build up and build up. Imagine that stressful events are like pebbles that you place in a glass jar. You keep piling those pebbles up in the jar until there is no space left and the jar cracks. Eventually, it shatters altogether. Step one in anger management is identifying what is causing you stress and how we can process these things without allowing them to pile up. Once we know what is causing us stress, we can take steps to reduce it or at least learn how to live with it.

2. Process the things that cause you stress.

It sounds simple, but so many of the things that cause us stress in life can be eased if we think about how to manage them properly. Now that you’ve identified some of the stressful incidents in your life, consider whether these are things that are in your control to change, or not. If they are things that we are able to change, let’s do that.

Common causes of stress for people include their relationships. Communication styles in a relationship can make or break whether or not it will feel stressful to you. Relationships with family members or partners are particularly important. Is there something about the way you communicate with your partner that could change, or is the way your family members or partner communicates with you stressful, too?

3. Develop coping skills and a plan for avoiding those angry blow-ups.

We can spend all day discussing ways of lowering our stress and processing the things that lead us to feel angry, but it is no good if we are still experiencing outbursts. Sometimes, simply being able to avoid those outbursts is half the battle.

There are a number of easy to learn methods for slowing things down when we feel like we are going to have an outburst of anger. Here are two.

Take a time out.

It may feel cheesy or like we are being weak, but taking a time out is a successful method of avoiding a major problem. When you start to notice the sensation of anger building in your body, calmly let the person/s in the room know that you need to take a few minutes to yourself. The important aspect of this technique is to let people know calmly and to put a time limit on it, so it does not appear that you are storming off. An example would be,

“I need to excuse myself for 5 minutes. I’ll be right outside, and I’ll be back”.

This allows those emotions some time to subside.

Delay your response

If you aren’t in a situation where you can remove yourself from the room, you may want to try a similar but different tactic: delay your response. We’ve heard this type of things before: receiving an angry text message from someone and instantly replying, being in a heated conversation with someone, and reacting to something negative they have said. When we react hastily, we aren’t giving our brain the time it needs to process the emotion. So, when you know you are in a heated situation, or someone is going to say something to you that would usually cause you to respond negatively, simply delay your reaction. If it’s a text or electronic message, put the phone/laptop away and give yourself five minutes. If its an in-person conversation, wait 5-10 seconds before making your reply. Sometimes the extra time will be all you need to create a calmer response.

Need help with your anger management in 2020? Contact us to arrange your appointment today!

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