If you are struggling with anger, recognising what makes you angry and learning how to deal with these issues can really help. Here, anger expert John Landaw, talks us through these things.
Question yourself, asking what are the situations, people, places, that trigger your anger? Remembering that anger is not just a question of blind rage, it is not black and white, but on a continuum.
Being irritated by supermarket queues (‘Why aren’t there more tills open, for Heaven’s sake?’), or by the shoppers dawdling seemingly endlessly in front of the shelf where you need something (Can’t they see I am waiting?’) are examples of anger that is low on the continuum.
Because these are intermediate states, it can be hard to recognize them as anger, especially when they are ‘normal’ states for you. Anger is personal. Attend to those physiological and emotional clues I mentioned at the beginning, though the list is not exhaustive.
Managing anger symptoms
Monitor yourself in order to answer the questions we asked in 'Recognising Anger' above.
Keep an anger diary; observing yourself - being this ‘Other Person’ watching you - itself acts to forestall anger. And is actually interesting: ‘I have noticed that I tend to get angry when ....hmm... there’s a pattern there.’ It’s like being your own anger detective.
Take up Mindfulness or Meditation. These systems are very much based on observing the self, through living in the moment. If we are observing ourselves and our environment in a conscious way, it is actually quite hard to get angry. The Guardian recently ran a good series on Mindfulness, including excellent downloads. Mental Health Foundation had some great mindfullness info too.
The reason people mostly come to me with an anger issue is either because their partner has insisted they do, and they are aware that their anger is unproductive and exhausting, and also that expressing it, especially when another person/partner gives into it, only fuels the need to vent it more - an addiction, which leaves them feeling empty, drained and alone.
How do we negotiate those day to day triggers within the family or, in the wider sphere, with friends? It is important to note that, in a family situation, the provocation may not necessarily be caused within the family, but may affect it nonetheless. For example, in our driving example, one partner’s constant ill temper behind the wheel may be highly stressful to the other.
Please see our guide to helping someone with anger issues.
Managing anger with our peers
We feel the temperature rising, noticing our own particular physiological and emotional symptoms. If you feel you are going to lose your temper, say that you need a ‘time-out.’ Do not simply leave the arena. During your timeout - around fifteen to twenty minutes - do something to occupy yourself: the gardening, cleaning, going for a walk - pretty much any activity will do