Learning how to manage anger is often a part of therapy, even if it is not the primary reason someone comes to see a therapist at Mountain Vista Psychology. Do you struggle with getting angrier than you would like to? Do you say things you wish you could take back? Does conflict spiral out of control in your relationships? If this is ever a problem for you or your child, read on! Anger in itself is NOT a bad emotion. It is just as necessary as any other emotion we have.
Anger’s job is to tell us when something is not right. It is our body’s signal that something has hurt us, wronged us, when something feels disrespectful to us, etc. If you acknowledge anger you can use it as a tool to help you figure out what needs to change. You can then learn to express your anger in constructive ways. Most of us have some negative ways of expressing anger we fall back on, such as:
Stuffing in and not expressing it
All of these ways of handling anger cause negative consequences for yourself and/or someone else. What can we do to ensure we are engaging in healthy ways to express our anger.
I have three strategies for you to implement to improve the expression of frustration and anger:
- Notice where in your body you first feel anger. For some people this is their stomach, for some their head, for some their fists, etc. Your body is your first key to your emotions. If you can learn how your body feels as you begin to become angry you can learn to make decisions to express your anger in healthy ways or take a break from the situation that is making you angry.
- Now that you are paying attention to your body signals, you need to learn to rate your level of frustration/anger. When you think about different situations that anger you rate them on a 0-10 scale: 0 is totally calm and 10 is as angry as you can get. When we get too angry we do not think as clearly and end up saying and doing things we regret. If you can learn to disengage from the situation that is causing you anger before you get too angry you will make better decisions and your relationships will be healthier. I recommend for people to disengage from a situation that is causing them to feel anger when their anger is no more than a 6, meaning they are feeling themselves increase in anger, but are not yet seeing red.
- If you need to take a break from a situation that is making you feel angry there are a couple of things you need to know. First, it takes your physiology two hours to calm down. People will often take a 5 minute break and then wonder why they escalate again so quickly. They escalate quickly because their physiology had not fully calmed before they reengaged. Another important part about taking a break from a conflict that is causing you anger is that you come back to solve the situation when you are calm. Taking a break doesn’t work if it is used as an escape from a situation you don’t want to address.
These strategies work for people of all ages. At MVP we teach them to children and adults. If you or someone you love has difficulty utilizing healthy ways to deal with anger and you need help, you can call our office at 720-583-9332 to make an appointment for a counseling session or free 20 minute consultation with one of our therapists. Sometimes there are underlying causes for anger than need to be addressed at a deeper level to get peace.
Written By Dr. Steffanie Stecker
Dr. Steffanie Stecker a licensed psychologist and the owner and clinical director of Mountain Vista Psychology, PLLC.
In addition, she is a board certified neurotherapist (BCN E5669) and board certified in QEEG (QEEG-D). Less than 100 people world wide are board certified in QEEG, which indicates competency in reading QEEGs and choosing neurofeedback protocols. Dr. Stecker is passionate about brain based effective therapy and creating a safe relationship for her clients to create change. She loves what she gets to do each day!