Most of us have experienced an occasional flood of anger and wondered where it came from. For some of us this happens all too often. We are cut off in traffic and BAM! – adrenaline floods in, heart is racing, muscles tense. Or our spouse announces, again, that he needs to work late and we explode. At times it can feel like the anger is controlling us. Why is it that some people take things in stride while others are so easily irritated?
Anger is a normal human emotional state which occurs as the result of a real or perceived insult, frustration, or injustice done to oneself or another. Like all emotions, anger has a purpose of providing information that can motivate one to action. Sometimes anger is not directly related to a present situation or circumstance; sometimes the anger is masking another emotion or condition such as hurt, fear, frustration or simply a tired or hungry body. Increasing our awareness is the first step toward resolving an anger problem. Here are some ways to increase awareness:
1. Log your anger experiences
What is the first sensation you feel in your body when you get angry? What were your thoughts connected to the experience? Logging anger can reveal thought patterns that might be fueling it.
2. Uncover the core feeling
Are you angry at your spouse for working late or are you feeling lonely and simply want more time with him? Understanding the core feeling and need can motivate us to take action to get those needs met.
3. Keep track of triggers
Do you get angry in the same situations, such as when you are running late, under pressure or overtired? Noting the situations that generate anger can enable us to implement lifestyle changes to avoid those situations.
4. Address unresolved conflicts
Sometimes the triggers are not really about our current circumstances, but reflect feelings we’ve experienced in the past. These might include past experiences that were never resolved or lack closure. It might be that current relationships are mimicking past relationships. Resolving those situations might dissipate the anger.
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