Anger is a natural, normal, sometimes intense emotion that comes and goes. But if held onto, it can become insidious and cause harm — both to ourselves and to others.
Signs You May Have Anger Issues:
- Clenching or grinding your jaw frequently
- Body aches
- Rapid heart rate or an intense hot feeling
- Dizziness or trembling
- Feeling overwhelmed, panicked or wanting to flee
- Feeling combative or wanting to strike out
- Fidgeting or pacing
- Frequent yelling or crying
- Being told you are acting abusive, mean or like a jerk
- Feeling sad, depressed or hopeless
Step one: Check your behavior.
When we are angry, we tend to either vent our anger or bury it deep down, hoping it will go away. Venting can manifest in many ways: complaining, yelling or hitting for example. These behaviors may temporarily feel good, but they can hurt or bother others and ultimately make us feel worse. Burying anger can lead to more intense outbursts later on. These outbursts often occur out of context, causing us to feel confused or misunderstood.
We can have a lot of pent up anger at a close family member, such as a parent, that causes us to act out in seemingly unusual ways. We may take out this anger on our own bodies, through an eating disorder, addiction or other form of self-harm. We may take out this anger on others, such as our spouses, acquaintances, children or co-workers. This can become a pattern over time, so much so that we don’t even realize the source of our behavior. All we know is that it provides relief in the moment, so we keep doing it. What do you do when you’re angry?
Step two: Stop and breathe.
When you feel anger, it’s important to stop, breathe, observe and recognize how you feel. By not reacting right away, you can help yourself accept that you are angry. Then you can do the work required to manage your anger and defuse the situation.
Step three: Determine the source.
Anger is often rooted in pain, fear and frustration. Did what was said or done cause you pain? Did it hurt your feelings? Do you feel rejected or disrespected? Are you fed up because you feel unheard? Why? These are all good questions to ask yourself when you feel angry. Take the time to answer these questions so you can understand what’s really causing your anger and why you feel the way you do.
Step four: Talk it out.
Healthy, effective communication can help you resolve anger. Talking to a counselor, for example, can help you recognize and break your own patterns. By discussing your frustrations in a thoughtful constructive way, or even writing them down in a journal, you can start to see common triggers for your behavior. You may notice that every time you engage in angry behavior that harms yourself or others, it happens right after a fight with your mother, or a memory of a traumatic event. Once you recognize this pattern, you can start to separate your emotions from your triggers. Eventually, you will be able to feel less intense anger, let it go, change your behavior, and reach a place of peace. It all starts with taking the first step.