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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Anger Coping Strategies

Anger is a killing thing: it kills the man who angers, for each rage leaves him less than he had been before – it takes something from him. ~Louis L’Armour

Coping Strategies For Chronic Anger
1. Be open to the possibility that you might be overvaluing the importance of your own emotional states and not placing enough importance on your responsibility to act like a mature, reasonable adult. Place an image in your mind of how you should act in emotional situations, and try to use it as a guide.

2. Ask yourself if you are using anger as a way of coping with basic anxiety. If latent, or repressed, anxiety plays a role in your chronic anger, consider applying some of the coping suggestion on anxiety.

3. Impose a delay between a situation that aggravates you and your actions to it. It has been standard to advise people prone to excessive, quick anger to “count to ten”. Although the advice is trite, it has value.

4. Think of a self-imposed delay as a “time-out”. During the time-out, challenge the anger-inducing ideas going through your mind; for example, if you are thinking, “Susan always keeps me waiting like this” ask yourself, “Am I right? Does she always do it?” You may realize that you are overgeneralizing and being unfair to Susan.

5. Even if a tendency to be more aggressive than others is an inborn trait of your personality, you do not want to cling to the attitude that you are the trait’s helpless victim. Instead, develop the attitude that you can work around the trait, that you can effectively diminish its influence with your intelligence and your will.

6. Perhaps you are imitating the angry behaviour that, as a child, you witnessed in your parents or older siblings. If so, ask yourself these questions, “Am I just a copycat? Do I have to do something just because I saw less thoughtful people do it as a child? Am I a programmed robot or a human being?” Reflective answers to these questions may help to set you free from the bondage of observational learning.

7. Perhaps being a psychological bully helps you get your way. An alternative is to look for ways to negotiate, to exchange agreements, with important people in your life. This will be better for your relationships in the long run than the raw use of hostile power. 

8. If you think that you are perhaps somewhat hyperactive, you need some way to lower physiological arousal. This is why some chronically angry people abuse alcohol and sedatives. Alcohol depresses central nervous system activity. Dependence on drugs is an ineffective coping strategy. There are other methods to lower arousal. Depending on individual differences, those methods might be listening to music that you find soothing, taking a warm bath, having a snack and so forth. Some individuals have found that taking a course of instruction in meditation techniques is useful in lowering arousal.

9. If you feel that you must let anger out or else explode, try hitting a pillow or a punching bag. The physical movement will help you release some of the anger and may reduce its intensity.

10. Remember that acting in an angry manner is a choice you make. Refuse to think,”I can’t help myself”. Instead think,”I’m in the driver’s seat. And negative emotional displays are not in my own best interests.”
If you find that you cannot cope adequately with chronic anger, there are a number of ways in which the professions of psychiatry and clinical psychology can help you. For example, a therapist can help you explore the unconscious motives behind your anger. It is possible that you are retaining psychological grudges held against your parents. It is possible that during your childhood they were abusive, unloving, insensitive to your feelings, or overcontrolling. The anger you continue to feel toward them is “unfinished business” and it is generalized to almost anyone who attempts to exert the slightest authority over you, including a partner, a teacher, or an employer. Although it is generally held that insight into unconscious motives is of value, it is also generally held that such insight is insufficient therapy in and of itself. You must act on an insight in a constructive way.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~Buddha

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