Do you have anger management problems? Have you been told that you have anger issues?
Anger is a natural reaction to some problems in life. But sometimes it becomes obvious that your anger is bigger, louder and scarier than the average person’s anger. Sometimes your anger is unpredictable to yourself or others and you end up losing friends or having fiery relationships that do not last or are very dramatic and exhausting. These could be signs that something is amiss with your anger.
Let’s be clear about anger issues. Anger in and of itself is not a diagnosis. Persistent anger is a symptom. Not only is it a symptom, but it is a symptom of so many things, it is hardly useful to try to zero in on a disorder or diagnosis based on anger alone.
So if anger is a symptom, it means it is representing a problem. It would seem to make sense to find out what the problem is to get rid of the anger. But here’s the tricky part. Finding out why your anger is so out of control takes time and you have to get through your life and manage your anger RIGHT NOW.
So anger should be treated with a two prong approach. I describe this two prong approach as “from the top and from the bottom”. Let’s say you get a rash because you are wearing a sweater that irritates your skin. You probably would not JUST put an anti-itch cream on it because that is temporary relief for the rash only (from the top). It would be more effective to also change the sweater because that is the root cause of the problem (from the bottom). So the same goes for anger. You must learn ways to relieve your temper and de-escalate yourself when you are ready to explode (from the top), but you also must find what causes your anger in the first place (from the bottom).
Helpful hint: Most people would say that the problem is the other person. For example, your ex-wife is so aggravating or your boss is so stupid. Get rid of these people in your life and you will not be angry anymore, right? Maybe. The reality is that usually we are not at liberty to cut certain people out of our lives. For example, ex-spouses stay in contact because they have children and we cannot fire our boss and it is not always the best or easiest answer to get a new job. Additionally, most people with anger problems will tell you that after you get rid of people you think are the problem, your anger persists with new people or in other areas of your life. If you do not get rid of the real cause of the anger, it will likely come back with a new trigger.
So how do you get treatment both “from the top” and “from the bottom?”
1. Find a cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) guide or workbook. CBT can be very useful for reigning yourself in when you start to get upset. It is also a helpful tool to start looking at why you get so angry.
2. Get an app that helps you learn how to exercise mindfulness, breathing exercises, and calm states of mind. The “Calm” app and “Headspace” are two that many people like. In any treatment for anger, it will be important to learn how to be aware of what you are thinking and feeling and these apps help start those skills.
3. Get into individual psychotherapy, Anger problems are not one size fits all. Each person has experienced the world on their own separate path from everyone else so only you have your brand of anger and no one else. Your own therapy is the best way to find out what is going on with YOU and it is one of the best ways to find relief and make change.