We all get angry when we believe we are being wronged, misunderstood or unjustly accused. It’s a natural reaction to circumstances that put us on the defensive. But when we cannot identify or manage our anger, it can take over our lives and affect the well-being of those close to us. When our anger is focused on our relationship partners or a divorcing spouse, it can reach dangerous levels for everyone involved.
Anger is a feeling that alerts us that something is wrong. What we fail to understand is that we, as human beings, always have choices regarding how we act regarding those feelings. Acting before thinking can lead to mismanaged anger. Once we have reacted to anger, we have allowed our feelings to control us. This can lead to actions and behaviors we never would have taken if we were making rational choices. Knowing how to manage anger can help us set limits and determine comfortable boundaries in our relationships – including co-parenting after a divorce.
While anger is a natural emotion, when faced with a challenging situation, it can also create the most destructive consequences. Improperly expressed anger can produce difficulties with family, friends, co-workers and colleagues. Left uncontrolled, it often results in encounters with law enforcement and the judicial system.
If managing anger has been a challenge, it is important to recognize signs to watch out for in our behavior and identify “red flag” warnings in advance before we explode out of control. With intention and practice, we can learn healthier ways of expressing anger, frustration and other difficult feelings which will make for more peaceful and rewarding life experiences.
Identifying Anger Problems:
Here are some questions we can ask ourselves which will identify whether we have an anger management problem:
• Do I lose my temper easily and quickly? Do small things set me off such as getting stuck in traffic, children running around the house or spilling my coffee? Do I have a low tolerance for frustration? Is it difficult for me to take things in stride?
• Do I show inconsistent behavior that is intimidating to others? Is my behavior so unpredictable that one minute I’m feeling good — and the next I become explosive?
• Are family and friends afraid of me? Do they often tell me to calm down? Do people say they “walk on egg shells” around me? Do they avoid giving me bad news for fear of my reaction?
• Have I hurt people close to me because of my anger? Have I lost friends, family or even my job as a consequence of my outbursts? Do people distance themselves from being close to me?
• Have I tried to control my anger, but failed? Am I unable to control how I react to things, even though I have tried several different approaches?
• Do I find myself explaining or justifying my aggressive behavior to others? Do I usually blame others for enticing or provoking me to anger?
• Is it difficult to express myself without cursing, swearing and blaming? Is my communication with others often offensive and vulgar? Am I defensive and usually believe the problem “isn’t me — it’s them”?
• Does anger cause me to become destructive? Do I frequently break things or become violent towards others? Do I pound on the table, punch a door or throw things to make a point? Have I hit, bit, pushed or forcibly held my partner because of my rage?
• Does my anger spiral out of control? Once I get angry, is it difficult for me to de-escalate? Does it seem to take over and take a while before I am able to settle down?
• Do I have difficulties with authority figures? Do I dislike people telling me what to do and often get into confrontations? Do I purposefully refuse to complete assignments or follow directions, as a sign of rebellion?
• Do I frequently argue at home? Is it difficult for me to have a conversation without getting angry? Do I get upset when others disagree with me? Do I believe others have the power to make me feel stupid or inadequate?
• Is my body language intense? Do I communicate with clenched fists, a tightened jaw and a glaring stare?
These are all signs of anger management issues that need to be addressed. Fortunately there are tools, skills and strategies we can use to change our state of mind, perceive circumstances differently, catch ourselves before our anger explodes, harness our rage in more productive directions and create more inner peace in our lives. Learning these skills will not only make our life more satisfying, it will improve our relationships with everyone in our world, bringing us more credibility and respect from others.
Controlling our anger will transform life for the better – and give us the tools to respond more effectively to challenging situations, especially in our personal relationships. We can still get our needs met, but without the struggle, turmoil and negative consequences.
Anger Management courses are available in many communities, as well as online. An internet search using the terms Anger Management and your city should deliver numerous results. Making the investment in ourselves will reap rewards that will pay off for a lifetime!
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT and Amy Sherman, LMHC, are co-authors of an 8-hour and 12-hour online Anger Management Course focused on divorce and relationship issues. The content includes insights, advice, strategies, questions, videos, quizzes and more, all designed to help men or women create better alternatives in their lives. The courses are also approved for court-mandated Anger Management programs for divorce cases.