Emotional & Mental Wellness
5 Ways To Control Your Anger
By Cody Mitts, Therapist in Denver, Colorado
Don’t Let Your Anger Be Destructive In Your Life
Anger can be a destructive emotion when it’s out of control. It can ruin your marriage, cost you a career, and damage your family relationships. Here are 5 ways to control your anger that are essential to good anger management.
The good news is that you can change how anger functions in your life. Anger is an emotion and like all emotions it fluctuates.
As a Denver anger management counselor I help people understand their anger and learn how to deal with it in healthy and positive ways.
1) Calm Your Body When Your Angry
One of the best ways to reduce your anger is by calming down your body. Your body is a good indication of how you’re feeling. Start paying attention to your body when you get angry.
Some of the common places you might feel anger in your body are your head, neck, shoulders, chest, or stomach. Watch for the physiological signs of anger like a change in your breathing, your heart rate going up, or feeling hot or flushed in your face.
| It’s important to recognize the body and mind connection with anger. |
If you notice how your body feels when you get angry you’ll start to see some common patterns. Once you recognize how your body responds to anger you can practice calming it down.
An effective technique for calming your body is practicing a muscle relaxation exercise. Check out this article on how to improve your anger using mindfulness.
2) Change Your Angry Thoughts
It’s not what happens to you that makes you angry, it’s how you think about what happens to you that makes you angry.
Your brain is a powerful tool. All day long it’s taking in information around you, processing that information, and telling you how to respond. It happens in an instant and you don’t even notice.
While it’s an amazing ability it’s also part of the reason anger can be a problem. Your brain is interpreting information in a way that leads you to feel angry.
It’s time to retrain your brains filter.
One way to begin retraining your thoughts is by keeping an anger journal. By writing down what’s happening when you get angry you can begin practicing new thought patterns.
When using your anger journal write about the following things:
- What was the situation that triggered your anger?
- How did you interpret your trigger? (example: he’s lying to me and must think I’m an idiot)
- Evaluate your interpretation. (did the person tell you you’re an idiot or is it just an assumption?)
- What’s an alternative way to think about the situation?
- How could I have responded to this situation positively?
One important note about journaling. This isn’t an opportunity to ruminate about your anger. It’s a tool to help analyze your thoughts and practice using more positive thinking habits.
It’s important to recognize the body and mind connection with anger.
3) Practice Being More Flexible
I’m not talking about doing your daily yoga here (although it’s a great practice for mindfulness). We’re talking about being more flexible with your thoughts and expectations.
Often times anger happens when someone doesn’t meet your expectations. Suppose you have plans to meet a friend and feel angry when they show up late. You were expecting them to be there at a certain time and they didn’t meet your expectation.
You can start being more flexible by practicing empathy. In the situation with your friend being late you could start by thinking “maybe they had some car trouble,” “maybe they’re lost and need directions,” or “I know I’ve been late before so I can give them a break here.”
Being more flexible means you can adapt to situations, and you can tolerate disappointment effectively.
If you have rigid or inflexible expectations you’re probably going to be angry a lot. Things often happen in life that you can’t control and it’s important to learn how to accept these things rather than feel angry.
4) Take Some Space From What’s Making You Angry
When you get angry do you stop to calm down or do you go charging into the situation that you’re upset about? This is especially common for couples struggling with anger in their relationship.
When your anger reaches an unhealthy or destructive point you have to learn to cool down. One of the things that will help you cool off is creating some space between you and the other person.
Often times it’s helpful to have a conversation with your partner and agree on some ground rules for taking time apart when you’re angry. Check out this article on how to take an effective timeout when you’re angry.
The important part of taking space is making sure you calm down. Be careful that when you take a break you don’t ruminate about your anger. Ruminating or venting is unhelpful because it keeps your anger alive.
A helpful way to take some space is going for a 20 minute walk. While you’re on the walk focus your attention on the trees or flowers near you, pay attention to the warm or cool weather, and try not to focus on why you’re angry.
Practice cooling off when you take some space.
5) Increase Emotions That You Enjoy
Good anger management is not just about reducing your anger, it’s also important to increase the emotions you enjoy.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re in a good mood it’s more difficult to get angry? As a therapist in Denver people often tell me they feel more comfortable when they’re angry. Anger has become what they know and understand.
It’s important to know how to feel a positive emotion as well.
Plan some time to do things that bring you pleasure and increase a good feeling. Do something that makes you laugh, spend time with a friend that you enjoy, or plan a trip for fun.
Practice healthy habits that improve your self care. Daily practices such as meditation, exercise, eating healthy foods, spending time with people you love, and getting good rest can all be part of good self care.
Anger Management Counseling
I always remind people anger is not a bad emotion. It’s normal to feel some anger throughout life. If your anger is happening too often, or if it’s getting too intense it can become a problem. Anger management counseling is designed to help you learn how to experience anger in a positive way.
People are going to let you down and do things you don’t like. The important thing is learning how to deal with difficult emotions like anger in a healthy and productive way.