Anger Getting the Best of You?
In stressful and chaotic situations, you may find that you lack patience with others or more easily get upset or annoyed over minor things. Anger and frustration are surface emotions that often hide other feelings, like disappointment, fear, sadness, jealousy, stress, overwhelm, loneliness, etc. (Adapted from Mental Health America.)
What can you do when you feel these feelings threatening to spiral out of control?
Here are tips for coping with anger/frustration, so they don’t control you:
- Take a moment to recognize your anger/frustration. Admit to yourself, in a nonjudgmental way as possible, what you are feeling. What signs do you experience in your body and mind that indicate you are angry/frustrated?
- Pause. Give yourself time and space to calm down and distance yourself from the anger/frustration, rather than immediately reacting. To ease and disrupt your anger/frustration, you also might consider changing your physical surroundings. For example, get away from the situation, leave the house, take a bike ride, visit a friend or take a walk. What surroundings do you find soothing?
- Give yourself an outlet for your energy/tension. Mindfulness activities and exercise can be forms of pausing, to help dissipate the intense energy that can accompany angry/frustration. What activities work for you to decompress/rebalance?
- Don’t avoid the issue. When you keep your feelings bottled up, they can end up controlling you and showing up/interfering in other situations. So, allow yourself time to vent. Consider talking with a trusted neutral friend or journaling. It may help you sort through your feelings and determine if you are interpreted the situation accurately. What helps you to work through your feelings?
- Build in compassion. As you deal with your anger/frustration, endeavor to make room for generosity towards yourself and others. It might aid you in avoiding getting caught up in the blame and fault-finding that can accompany these intense feelings.
- Identify your fears. What fears has your anger/frustration brought up?
- Examine your options. Consider the different ways you could respond to the situation that triggered the anger/frustration and potential outcomes for each. Options include but are not limited to ways you might try to understand it, confront it or let it go.
- Decide how you will respond. Among the options considered, which response would be most positive for you and others over the long term? What response will help you solve the problem rather than simply win?
- Work to avoid responding/communicating about your feelings in ways that are insulting to or dismissive of another or that puts another on the defensive.
- Avoid displacing your anger/frustration. All of us have at one time or another taken our anger/frustration out on the wrong persons or brought them in into unrelated circumstances. The above tips can help you avoid finding yourself in this situation. However, if you react inappropriately, apologize and do what you can to rectify the situation.
- Seek out additional help. If you feel like you can’t get your anger/frustration under control, seek out extra support. We all need help at times. If not resolved, anger and frustration can fester and become explosive. Contact the Mindful Counseling Center at 609-377-5859 for assistance.
The article was adapted from the handout, Ways to Handle Your Anger (thanks to Michele Kramer for sharing it with us) and Dealing with Anger and Frustration | Mental Health America (mhanational.org).