Anger management is the process of learning to recognize early signals that you are angry and to take action to handle the social situation in a positive and constructive manner. It doesn’t mean that you should try to hold your anger or to suppress it. Anger is a normal human emotion and it is healthy when you are able to express it in an appropriately way.
Many people who suffer from anger attacks and aggressive behaviour have the feeling that they are helpless and that it’s beyond their control. “I became blank”, “I wasn’t myself”, “I can’t remember anything” are much heard excuses. But prior to most anger attacks there are warning signals. Some people feel their head is getting warmer or tighter; others become fidgety or start to sweat.
We all feel angry once in a while and sometimes we say things that we regret later. This is a normal part of life and doesn’t mean that we need help. But when your anger has a negative effect on your relations, if it makes you feel unhappy, or if it leads to violent or reckless behaviour, then a visit to a therapist makes sense.
You definitely need help when:
• You have strong issues with authorities
• You often have the feeling that you choke with anger
• You have lots of arguments with your partner, family or colleagues
• You hit your partner or children.
• You show aggressive or angry behaviour whilst driving a car (road rage).
Anger management helps you to determine the triggers that make you flare up. It’s about recognition of those triggers and subsequently acting upon those. This ‘acting’ consists mainly of organizing a time out. Some examples are:
• Simply counting until 10.
• Leaving the situation when you feel the anger rising. Just leave with an excuse like a bathroom visit.
• Breathe consciously deeply in and out; try to direct your breathing lower towards your belly.
• Relax yourself in an active way (the so called progressive muscle relaxation) starting from the top of your head to your toes.
Try to avoid dealing with problems when you are already tired or frustrated. Exercising on a regular basis helps to prevent building up tension in your body in a healthy way. Look for physical activities like for example dancing or jogging as long as it’s an activity that you enjoy. But the most important factor is to try to understand where your anger stems from. Usually this is a complex process and it takes time. A professional psychologist can help you with this. Aggressive people should learn to handle anger provoking situations differently.
Somebody who has been treated in a belittling or humiliating way (for example at school or by his parents) will probably overreact to teasing remarks. It’s important to try to make an emotional link between the felt anger in the present and the anger from the past. Experiencing and feeling that ‘old’ anger gives you insight and is the start of a more balanced emotional life. When you are an aggressive person and you want long-term solutions then you should look for professional help.