5 things that may help with anger issues

anger issues - a picture of the incredible hulkAnger issues are among the most common themes that come up when working with neurolinguistic programming (NLP) clients.  Often when I meet someone for the first time, clients will be concerned that they are having angry outbursts or feel pent-up feelings of anger. They can’t understand why this is happening. Small things, which you would not normally find more than slightly  irritating, take on an inappropriate level of emotion.  The tendency to lose your temper can lead to difficulties in your relationships, social life, and also at work. Clients have found themselves in disciplinary situations or even losing their jobs, simply because they were unable to control their anger.

Why do I get these anger issues?

Getting angry about something, can be a perfectly normal reaction, in some contexts. Some level of anger can serve you in enabling you to set boundaries around your life as to what is acceptable and what is not.  It can help protect  you when you are challenged. Inappropriate levels of anger can lead to unnecessary confrontation, and ultimately feelings of shame or embarrassment.

Some people feel that they have struggled with anger issues for their whole life. Others may be surprised at how these feelings have suddenly surfaced and may find it difficult to explain what triggered them. Often in the latter case, the emotion of anger may not be the real issue. The feeling of anger has surfaced in response to another emotional state, such as sadness, or fear. You get very sad, and in order to cope with the emotion of sadness, you get angry instead. Maybe you are afraid of something and find it difficult to accept, so you have angry outbursts.

How do I deal with anger?

Within my practice I deal with anger issues using a number of techniques. Probably the most powerful and effective of these is Timeline Therapy – developed by Tad James in America.

There are many other processes in NLP also, which can help deal with negative emotions and the triggers that set them off.

Even without these processes though, you can do several things to help cope with your anger issues.

  1. Relax more. It almost goes without saying that if you are not taking time out for yourself, you will find it harder to control your emotions. If you are stressed then anger is going to rise much more easily to the surface. You can relax in so many ways – take a walk, have a short nap, do some meditation or play a round of golf.  Get more down time.
  2. Ask yourself, ‘What is the emotion I am feeling?’.  Is it anger? Or is it really something else, such as sadness, fear, guilt?  If you find that one of these emotions is the real cause then explore the reasons. See if there is anything you can do to help with that. You may need to seek some professional help. There is an article about this in Psychology Today.
  3. Choose a better word.  I cover this in various places, because it is so important, and can really help make a difference.  When you are getting ‘angry’ about a situation, or the behaviour of another person, ask yourself: “Is there a word that more accurately describes my response, that I can accept.” Words like ‘angry’, ‘furious’, ‘seething’ and ‘rage’ are all highly emotive words which can only serve to increase your emotional state. We bandy these words about too freely and consequently find ourselves constantly in a highly charged state.  You can see this happening on Facebook a great deal.  Instead of these words experiment with less emotional descriptions. You may be ‘annoyed’, ‘tetchy’, ‘irritable’, ‘frustrated’, or you may even have a made up word that you can use that works for you.
  4. When you are angry with another person, whether you know them or not, try reminding you of this simple phrase: ‘Everybody is doing the best they can with the resources they have available.’  You don’t know exactly what is going on in another person’s life right now.  Just the same as they don’t know what is going on in yours.  They may have issues of their own – a tragedy may be unfolding that you know nothing about. Their behaviour may be a knee-jerk reaction that they have been relying on since an early age.  There are too many factors going on to be a good judge. But if you work on the principle that everybody is doing their best, based on what they have going on, then you may find it easier to be accepting and tolerant, and less angry. You can’t be a saint, all the time – and neither can anyone else.
  5. Seek professional help. If your anger issues are disrupting your life or making others and yourself unhappy, then seek some professional help. You don’t have to feel this way.  See your doctor, look into therapy interventions – there are many different disciplines which all seek to help with this kind of issue.

Robert Sanders is a therapist and life coach, supporting people in their present and helping them create their future.

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