What You Can Do To Counteract Intense Anger
1.Identify and understand triggers to your intense anger
If you can identify the warning signals of anger, then you are in a much better position to manage it and to choose whether or how you express it. There are three types of warning signs:
- Identify the way anger feels in your body. Anger doesn’t just explode without warning, In fact, there are physical warning signs in your body. These might include: clenched hands or jaw, knots in your stomach, pounding heart, breathing faster, pacing or needing to walk around, feeling clammy or flushed.
- Identify people, places and situations that can trigger your anger
Stressful events don’t excuse anger, but understanding how these events affect you can help you take control of your environment and avoid blowups. Possible triggers might be drinking too much, traffic jams or feeling overtaxed at work.
- Identify the key psychological component of anger: failure to meet expectations. Most anger incidents are triggered when our expectations are not met. These include expectations of ourselves, other people or the world. Understanding this can lead us to possibly revise our expectations or develop problem-solving strategies to help close the gap between what is happening and what we desire to happen.
2. Understand the cognitive distortions that fuel your anger
- Catastrophizing. You exaggerate the negative impact of another person’s
actions or an event well beyond the facts. You cast such incidents as “awful”
rather than “undesirable”.
- Personalizing. Without basis, you believe that another person’s statements or actions are directed toward you. You may feel personally put down.
- All-or-none thinking. You focus on the negative aspects of a situation and think in an overgeneralized manner (e.g. always, never, every).
- Mind-reading. You jump to the conclusion of what the other person is thinking or feeling without checking it out.
- Thresholding. You set an arbitrary limit on what you can stand or tolerate. You then feel justified in becoming more aggressive or punitive when the other person crossed the line.
- Labeling. You use extreme terms or inflammatory descriptors (e.g.“hateful”, “nightmare”, “evil”) to describe another person or situation.
- Blueprinting. You imagine how you might get even or punish another person, rather than consider collaborative resolutions.
3. Initiate ways to cool down when anger erupts.
Quick tips for cooling down:
- Take some deep breaths. Slow, deep breathing can counteract the physical
component of intense ager. The key is to breathe deeply from the abdomen,
getting as much fresh air as possible into your lungs.
- Stretch or massage areas of tension. Your muscles prepare to “fight or flee” by tensing when you are angry. Reducing muscular tension helps reduce the intensity of your reaction.
- Focus on the physical sensations of anger. While it might seem counterintuitive, tuning into the way your body feels when you are angry, often lessens the way your body feels when you are angry, often lessens the emotional intensity of your anger.
- Use imagery to create a more peaceful state. When angry, you may have visual fantasies of punishing or retaliating against the source of your anger. You can practice bringing into your mind more peaceful and relaxing scenes (e.g. picturing yourself at a favorite vacation spot) to shift into a less angry state.
- Distractions that can be helpful. This is encouraged when you want to dampen your arousal so that you can then more effectively engage the situation that is upsetting you. These might include:
- Slowly count down from ten to one as you let go of tension.
- Repeat a poem, calming refrain from a favorite song, or a phrase that has spiritual meaning for you.
- Try to focus on your immediate environment using all your