Anger is an important emotion, despite it guiding us towards the negatives, it has the potential to motivate and protect us.
Anger helps us become extremely vigilant about threats and sharpens our focus, it is not surprising to see how that could help protect us in life threatening situations.
Anger also helps us realise what is important to us, if something makes us angry, we are more motivated to create change. For example, you might be angry at your boss for not providing you with what you deserve, the anger might motivate you to move on to another job. Appropriate usage of anger is healthy, but inappropriate use of anger could yourself and others.
Anybody can become angry-that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way-that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” Aristotle
If you are reading this, I assume that you are willing and wanting to change. You are off to a good start!
In the space below, let’s go over some ways we could start developing control over our anger should we?
In the beginning, it might be hard for you to realise you are getting angry until the anger have already taken control of your thoughts and actions. Therefore, in the beginning, it is useful to start an anger diary. No one expect you to be change overnight, do not give yourself that pressure. What’s important is that you are taking one step at a time towards your goal.
Every time you got angry, spend some time writing down what happened. What triggered your anger? For example, did your kids track mud all over the house?
Afterwards, we want to think back to the warning signs that you were getting angry. Were your hands shaking? Did you start breathing heavily or fast? Everyone has different warning signs, so important to identify your own.
Next, write down your anger response. Did you end up screaming at your kids? Did you end up throwing things at them? Just be honest to yourself, no one is going to judge you.
Finally, write down the outcome of your anger outburst. Did your kids cry? Did you go to bed feeling guilty?
Notice Your Thoughts and Warning Signs
The first step to change is self-awareness. Once you start writing your anger diary, you should start noticing the commonalities between your triggers and warning signs. Next time you are in a situation where you might be getting angry. Take a moment and notice your thoughts. Yes your kids are tracking mud all over the house, but what are you thinking? Maybe, you had a long day, and having to spend time cleaning annoys you. Or that your kids are doing this to make your life harder.
Challenge Your Thoughts
Under the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy model, thoughts are often what affects our emotions. If we could control our thoughts, we could control our anger. For example, in the heat of the moment, you might think that your kids are messing with you in purpose, but is it necessarily true? Maybe it was an accident? Maybe they were really excited because of something good that happened at school so they forgot to clean up. There are many ways to perceive the same scenario.
It Takes Time
Don’t beat yourself up if you slipup. It takes time and discipline to change our habit. Don’t get demotivated if you aren’t following the steps 24/7.
One pushup is better than not exercising, one minute of guitar practice is better than none at all, one minute of reading is better than never picking up a book, it’s better to do less than you hoped, than to do nothing at all.” Atomic Habits
Christopher Lee is a Brisbane psychologist with a keen interest in helping teenagers and young adults with trauma, behavioural and relational issues. In addition to speaking English, Cantonese and Mandarin fluently, Christopher uses evidence-based therapy techniques such as CBT, ACT, EFT, and DBT.
To make an appointment with Christopher Lee try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Loganholme on (07) 3067 9129 or Vision Psychology Wishart on (07) 3088 5422.
- Clear, J. (2018). Atomic habits: tiny changes, remarkable results: an easy & proven way to build good habits & break bad ones. Avery.
- Henwood, K. S., Chou, S., & Browne, K. D. (2015). A systematic review and meta-analysis on the effectiveness of CBT informed anger management. Aggression and violent behavior, 25, 280-292.
- Sukhodolsky, D. G., Smith, S. D., McCauley, S. A., Ibrahim, K., & Piasecka, J. B. (2016). Behavioral interventions for anger, irritability, and aggression in children and adolescents. Journal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology, 26(1), 58-64.