When You or Someone You Love Gets Angry

Anger management blog

Most people don't like dealing with anger so they avoid it. Exploding in a rage is an obvious problem but stuffing your feelings is just as harmful. Over time when anger is abusive or ignored, it can destroy relationships and self-esteem. 

If you're concerned about your anger or someone else's you're in the right place!

This blog provides tips for handling anger and how to handle someone else's anger.

How was anger viewed in your family?

Anger is learned by example. How you manage anger starts in childhood. You might have grown up seeing anger as destructive, scary or something to avoid. Healthy role-models are usually scarce. It's important to look at what beliefs may be contributing to your anger today.

Here are some common beliefs you may have learned growing up:

  • Children should be seen and not heard.
  • Feeling angry isn't okay.
  • Only adults can be angry.
  • Women are seen as difficult when angry.
  • Anger is scary and lead to being physically hurt.
  • Disagreements lead to trouble. 
  • Conflict should be avoided at all costs.

Fortunately, the stigma attached to seeking help has decreased. People now recognize rage and passive-aggressive anger as problematic. Managing anger makes a huge difference in relationships because it makes the other person feel safe. It creates a bridge to resolution.

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Increase your Knowledge about Anger

There are many different emotions that happen with anger. When you understand the feelings that accompany anger, you'll be able to recognize them before they escalate.

Annoyance/Irritability

Do you notice that irritability causes you to become more negative? These feelings will escalate until you handle them directly. Unexpressed upset leaks out in passive aggressiveness and resentment. Feeling annoyed is okay, letting it fester isn't.

Resentment

Holding onto past hurt leads to resentment. Eventually, you'll reached your limit and explode. As the person feeling the resentment, you suffer the most. Ironically, the other person usually has no idea. Being silent keeps the "poor me" story alive.

Accountability changes that story because acknowledging your behavior shifts your perspective. It helps you feel more empathetic towards the other person which promotes resolution.

Martyrdom

Feeling like you're being taken advantage of creates a sense of martyrdom. Thinking that no one understands you becomes the story. You fall into self-pity but it's the attachment to suffering and telling the story over and over that defines martyrdom. When these stories begin to define you, it can drive friends and family away.

(This should not be true if you are a victim of abuse.)

Ignored Hurts

 Styles of anger

Styles of anger

Sometimes anger is easier than admitting hurt because it feels less vulnerable. Expressing hurt is a not sign of weakness. Those are old beliefs that no longer serve you. They bind you into silence.

Stuffing the hurt creates stress and relationship problems. You start to feel like your needs don't count so you distance yourself. 

If you simmer...

  • Pay attention to your stress level.  
  • Recognize and handle resentments early.
  • Speak up if you're upset.
  • Use journal writing to express yourself.
  • Get a workout in to express it safely!
  • Use meditation to get in touch with feelings and release them.

Rage

Exploding anger or rage has lasting consequences in relationships. It creates trust issues, terror, poor role modeling for children, and abuse. Admitting you or someone you love needs help is the first step. 

If you explode...

  • Watch your stress level throughout the day.
  • Rate it from 1-10, 1 being no stress and 10 being enraged.
  • Know your triggers, what tends to provoke your anger?  
  • Learn your triggers, plan ahead to do something to calm down.
  • Use time- outs EARLY to avoid yelling or abusive behaviors.

What does anger look like?

Here are some early warning signs of anger that can encourage making better choices. Catching these signs can prevent abusive anger.

  • Physical signs - rapid heart rate, sweating, muscle tension, teeth clenched, stomach or head aches 
  • Emotional signs- feelings of irritability, annoyance, frustration, helpless, powerless, fear, self pity, martyrdom
  • Behavioral signs - yelling, pacing, swearing, throwing things, slamming doors, walking out etc.

Check Your Tone

Most people don't realize when they have a harsh or condescending tone - but everyone around them does. Tone of voice becomes a major trigger in relationships. When your reaction is bigger than the situation, that's your clue that you're reacting to something in the past. 

Common triggers are:

  • Feeling disrespected
  • Being left out or abandoned 
  • Reacting intensely to criticism 

When you're unaware of your tone, it leaks out in sarcastic or hurtful comments. Changing your tone can greatly improve communication. You can tell a lot about a person's stress level in how they speak. If you sound pleasant, it can calm people down - especially during an argument. 

Tips for Handling Anger

Here are some helpful tips to handle anger effectively and avoid abuse:

  • Rate your stress level from 1-10 (10 being rage) throughout the day
  • Avoid profanity and blaming statements
  • Be accountable for your behavior
  • Walk away before it gets intense (be sure to tell your partner first)
  • Communicate your feelings before they escalate
  • Get regular exercise to relieve tension
  • Get a hug, studies show it helps
  • State your feeling then a fact - "I feel upset when you're late."
  • Avoid judgements or character attacks

There is a fight or flight response that happens when you get angry. Your body starts to sweat, heart rate goes up, you may feel blank or confused. The brain cannot process information at that point. The ability to hear your partner correctly is greatly reduced. This is absolute worst time to sort things out.

How to Protect Yourself from Someone Else's Anger

Watch for the early warning signs of someone's anger. Usually you can see it coming. This gives you time to remove yourself safely. Always validate their upset as a way to connect and help them feel understood. Say something like;

"I can understand why you're so upset. This is really difficult." 

You don't have to agree with them to validate the situation! 

If you feel unsafe, make a safety plan. Gather money, extra car keys, a bag of clothes, important documents and keep them in your car.  If you have been abused or feel threatened call 911 or the police for help. There are support services available.

If you're afraid of other people's anger here are some suggestions.

  • Breathe and use positive self talk
  • Make sure you have plenty of physical space from them
  • Don't take it personally, it's not about you (even if they say it is)
  • Remember, you cannot MAKE someone angry 
  • You can only control how you respond
  • I statements work well to avoid escalation
  • Take a time-out if you feel uncomfortable
  • Avoid telling the other person to take a time out

Learning how to handle anger can improve your relationships and keep you safe. It takes practice but these skills are can make a huge difference in communication and handling conflict. Pick one thing to change and go for it! 

What's one thing that you could practice today about your anger?


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