Anger-techniques can be helpful in controlling anger. Let's start out by identifying if you have an anger problem. Are you an anger junkie? You may be if you use anger:

1. For energy or motivation (can't get going or keep going without some degree of anger;
2. For pain relief (it hurts when you're not angry);
3. For confidence a stronger sense of self--you only feel certain when angry;
4. To avoid depression;
5. To enforce a sense of entitlement;
6. To inhibit or punish disagreement with your opinions and values;
7. More than once a day, and when you experience anger, it lasts for more than a few minutes.

Remember, anger has one purpose and one purpose only: To signal that your boundaries are being violated. If someone walks up and kicks you in the shin, you become angry because your physical boundary has just been violated. You may become angry when you are put down or ridiculed or degraded because your emotional boundaries have been violated. When people become abusive with their anger they are using anger as an analgesic to numb psychological pain and a physical "rush" to fulfill the need for power. These people are the ones most in need of anger-techniques



Anger is a normal human feeling. However, anger-techniques are helpful for people who have a problem with anger and are unable to recognize anger on a continuum from mild annoyance to full-blown rage. For them, the trigger is pulled and they are in a rage. They go from 0 to 10 in seconds.

Rage is always about old issues, usually from childhood. Healthy anger is a response that is appropriate to a present situation. With rage, the anger dips down into unresolved issues from the past. It is always inappropriate.

Uncontrollable anger also can be part of the clinical picture for psychological disorders such as PTSD, Anxiety Disorder or Bipolar Disorder. As stated above, anger-techniques are helpful because anger can also be used as a defense, or as a way to control another person. Think about how anger was handled in your family when you were growing up. Maybe you think getting angry all the time and losing control is "normal". It is not. Anger-techniques are important in identifying and controlling anger

Try these anger-techniques:

1. Begin to notice and identify body signals of rising anger. These signals are usually tightening of the muscles, increased pulse rate, shallow breaths, increasingly loud voice (if you are arguing with someone). Once you have identified these signals, you can use them as a sign to take a deep breath, stop talking, and use your hands as a start for relaxing muscles. Relax your hands.

This also may be a time to take a break. If you are in an argument, let your partner know that you need a time out. Once you are alone, you can consider the following suggestions.

2. Ask yourself what you are telling yourself about this situation that is making you angry. Anger is created in your own head. You, and only you, are responsible for your anger. Anger is a feeling that is created by a thought, and the good news is that you can change your thoughts and stop your anger.

Anger often results when we make a judgement about something and then respond to that judgement as if it were fact. For example, the bank teller is keeping me waiting because she is ignoring me, I'm not important, She's rude, If I were rich, she'd sure be waiting on me....etc. What if you were waiting and thinking some of these things and you found out that the bank teller had just received a phone call saying her mother had died? With this new information, you change your interpretation of the situation and your anger is immediately gone. The Principle of Personal Responsibility

3. Change your thoughts. This anger-technique is not easy and it takes practice. A good anger-technique is to get a notebook and keep track of your anger. Make 3 columns. In the first column, write the incident in as few words as possible. In the second column, make a list of the thoughts (your interpretations) of the incident. These thoughts would be things you are telling yourself about being a victim.

For example, "He knew I wouldn't be able to get ready by 3:00, but he scheduled the appointment anyway. He's just inconsiderate and only cares about himself. He always does this to me!"

In the third column, write what you COULD tell yourself about the incident that would NOT create anger. For example, "Well, I wasn't able to get ready for the meeting, so I'll just have to tell him to start without me or reschedule it for another time." Practicing this anger-technique will help you identify an anger process that seems instantaneous, but is not. It will also help you CHANGE that process.

4. Make a plan for the future. Once you have reframed the thoughts that lead to your angry response, you can ask yourself this question:

Do I have any control over this situation? If you do not, simply let it go. If you find yourself thinking about it again, tell yourself to STOP!!! and distract yourself to another thought or activity. Call a friend, read a book, watch TV. If you do have control over it, take some kind of action.

In the example anger-technique 3 above, you could discuss how you want to handle scheduling meetings in the future, perhaps you would take the lead in this and let him know when the meeting is, or you would make it clear that if he schedules a meeting without checking with you first, you will probably not be able to make it.

Almost always, anger is a response to feeling like a victim. So empower yourself and take control.

5. Is the angry outburst part of a larger problem? Anger often can be part of a larger picture of stress, anxiety, frustration, or powerlessness.

When impatience due to stress appears to be the source of your anger, or is causing your anger to increase, consider steps to reduce stress in your life. Feeling put upon or treated unfairly can create anger. When there is a mismatch between what we are capable of doing and the demands put upon us to perform, anger can result.

Reducing Stress in Your Life

6. Anger isn't always external. Anger can be turned inward. Anger can be a silent, seething burden we can carry around with us. It can create physical problems, it can ruin our relationships, it can make us depressed and unhappy.

Don't carry around resentments and anger that has turned to bitterness. If you feel like a victim of somebody else's actions, you must take action yourself. You cannot change another person. Make a plan and follow through.

Anger-Techniques and Codependency
Conflict Resolution

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