Anger is one of the most commonly experienced emotions and in many cases it is a perfectly healthy and progressive emotion. Everyone feels angry at one time or another. Feeling angry is a good sign that something is happening that is not right or feels unjust. Anger kicks your defence system into action and allows you to identify the wrongs so you can right them. In this way it is very much a protective emotion. However, when anger is left to go unchecked, sometimes it becomes uncontrollable and gets inappropriately expressed.
When a person is feeling angry all the time and struggles to turn that feeling off, it may mean that they are no longer in control of that emotion and need to explore the underlying factors. Spending large amounts of time in this “amped up” state can have negative effects on your health as well as result in impulsive and inappropriate behaviours. Many people struggling from anger will notice a negative impact on their work functioning as well as their relationships.
Counselling with a qualified psychologist is a great tool to identify underlying issues, beliefs, thoughts and attitudes that could be contributing to the continuous feeling of anger. A psychologist assists you to define and implement more appropriate ways of expressing anger. Learning to control your anger means learning to control the triggers to your emotions. Most often thoughts, beliefs and attitudes are the triggers to the way we feel.
In this way it may also be helpful to identify any negative patterns of thinking. Are there negative things that you are telling yourself repeatedly? Do you have a particularly negative attitude about a particular person or incident? Identify particular thoughts that are contributing to your state of anger – particularly where you are telling yourself that you “should / ought to / must” do or be a certain way. Making statements to yourself about how terrible something is, or that you can’t cope, or can’t deal with something also contributes to the general level of emotional distress. Try to catch these thoughts when they are happening and replace them with more positive sentiments.
If you are experiencing something stressful, try to point out the positives in that situation too. We often get too focussed on all the things that are wrong and unpleasant and forget, or overlook, the things in our lives that are good. Identifying the good and keeping a check on the things that you are happy about will also help to balance your emotions a little. Identify the specific triggers to your anger and work on any underlying issues you may have with your counselling psychologist.
Try to find some time to relax and do the things you enjoy doing and remember, that laughter really is the best medicine. Laughter helps reduce stress and diffuse anger. We need play as much as children do so making sure that you get some time to unwind will also help you to manage your anger. Lastly, surround yourself with calm and serene images, music and people. Just as we can be well supported by the people around us, our environment – the colours, items, images and sounds – influence our emotional state.
Anger management and general counselling is available through the Centre for Human Potential. Clients include adults, teens, children, couples and families of all genders, cultures and diversities.