Ticked off, stressed out, short fused and irritable as heck. You may feel like you are going to burst at any moment.
The world is a fast moving ball of circumstances that can be scary, stressful, annoying and just plain in the way. There is just no shortage of issues or events that can and will test your emotional well being. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by emotions like frustration or anger. Your unsorted, unresolved feelings can start to stack up and you end up having a meltdown.
If you have many such unresolved issues or deep seated feelings you may feel like a walking time bomb, and you may find that you actually do “blow” more than the average person. This is not only bad for your health but for your interpersonal relations as well. In general people do not like to be around others who are angry, tense or toxic. You may find others shying away from you socially or at work. Feelings of rejection and not belonging increase the already existing anger and fuel the next big explosion.
You can easily see the circuitous nature of this problem. You are the hamster on the anger wheel of life.
Anger, fear and worry can and often do lead to unhealthy stress levels. High blood pressure, migraine headaches and gastrointestinal upset are a few of the medical maladies that can accompany chronic negative emotions.
Knowing what to do to manage, or self-regulate your emotions can help to minimize the amount of stress you experience and lessen the amount of time spent in that state. As with any change in your current thinking or emotional experience of life, a mind shift and the addition of some reasoning skills are necessary as is the addition of some psychological “tools”.
Your Basic Anger Toolkit:
1. To defuse frustration or anger, it’s important to become emotionally aware and acknowledge what you’re feeling. Taking a pause to identify what triggered your anger can actually help to slow down the emotional energy drain.
Once you identify the trigger you can ask yourself what emotional belief is under that feeling of anger – e.g. Am I feeling disrespected? Am I feeling unfairly judged? Am I feeling uncared for? By asking yourself these questions, you often can uncover a deeper belief underneath. Once uncovered, find a way to resolve the issue, letting it continue to fester is not helpful.
2. Use the formula spelled out in my previous post, Four Step Reality Equation for Testing Dysfunctional Thoughts
3. Reduce the intensity of an anger reaction by simply breathing a little slower and deeper. Try an “In through the nose, out through the mouth” mantra to clear your mind and get your breathing back on course. Doing this smooths out your body’s rhythm and sends a signal to the brain to ease up on the reaction, allowing you to regain some emotional poise.
4. Choose another verbal mantra that helps you to regain a sense of balance and put things in perspective. Repeat as necessary. If you have been angry for a long time it will take little while for your brain to develop or rewire new neural patterns but it will happen, stick with it. I personally like the mantras or phrases “It just doesn’t matter” or “Big fat hairy deal“.
5. Use humor. Fun and lightheartedness do not exist in an angry emotional place. If you can think of something funny, tune in your radio to a comedy station or even shift to some upbeat music you will shift your brain away from anger. It doesn’t mean you are in denial, it means you are consciously choosing to move your mood in a different direction.
6. If your anger stems from stress, fear, grief or a sense of scarcity, you will benefit from comfort items. Soothing music, a stuffed animal to hug, a real pet to hug, aromatherapy candles or scent products might be an option for you. Don’t feel silly, your brain is crying out for comfort. Ignoring it will just make it cry out louder. I find that my male clients have a harder time with this concept, so if you are a guy reading this, just trust me.
7. Depending on why you are chronically angry, it is likely you will have to make some changes in your life. You may be doing things or have yourself in a situation that has to change. When you are examining your emotions in step number one above you will probably find yourself face to face with whatever it is that is bothering you. Just being able to correctly label it and set forth some small steps toward correction will help you feel in control and less like a victim of whatever it is. Feeling helpless makes us angry.
9. If your anger is coming from a place of overwhelm, you will have to alter some of your activities to find relief. Time management, boundaries and learning to say no are critical skills in life, not luxuries. You are no good to anyone including yourself if you are angry, frustrated and unhealthy.
8. If you are unable to identify the source of your anger or you feel stuck with no game plan for relief, it might be time for a therapist or mentor. Having someone on your side and by your side can really help.
If you feel you may be using dysfunctional thought patterns that are keeping you depressed, anxious or unable to break free from problematic behaviors, please visit us at Psychskills and get the free resources How to Stop Wasting Your Life Being Depressed, Anxious and Unhappy: The Top 10 Strategies of Emotionally Successful People and/or How to Break Free from 12 Dysfunctional Thought Patterns
Feel Good For Life!