Anger is a bitter poison, one that will keep you trapped in a cycle of hurt and shame long after the initial feeling has faded. You can’t overcome anger with more anger, and you can’t escape it by hurting yourself, but that’s exactly what happens when we adopt self-destructive coping mechanisms.
Anger in and of itself can be considered self-destructive; it’s not the emotion itself that’s the problem but rather the response people develop to it. Anger excites the nervous system and prepares the body to defend itself, but on a psychological level, it can mask a sea of other emotions including anxiety, insecurity and shame.
Why People Have Anger Problems
As a primary emotion, anger is neither good nor bad. It isn’t pleasant to experience, and most people would label it as a “bad” feeling, but anger itself is a normal reaction that every human being experiences at some point or another. Even babies can express frustration and anger when they’re as young as 2 months old.
Some people are naturally predisposed to experience anger more often than others; some people pick up anger as a natural response to things because they watched others do the same in their environment. Others do not know how or why they experience angry outbursts, and many teens are diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder.
Whatever the case may be, living with anger has lasting physical, psychological and social effects that can’t be ignored. Over time, they can lead to the person turning their anger inward and adopting self-destructive soothing strategies, like risky sexual activity, drinking and drug use.
How Counseling Can Help You Manage Anger
Counseling is all about getting to the heart of issues. You won’t spend as much time delving into the past as you might think, though. Rather than wasting weeks talking about the past, a modern therapist will discuss your anger in the present and the impact it is having on your life. They will help you connect your anger to specific triggers, learn how to identify it in parts of your body and replace your worst habits with healthier coping strategies.
Combined with addiction therapy, anger management counseling can help reduce the risk of relapse and alleviate many of the negative emotions that fuel substance abuse. It cannot rid someone of an addiction by itself, but anger management can be a valuable tool in someone’s life as they work toward overcoming addiction and living more closely to who they want to be.
Types of Anger Management Counseling
Counselors will first want to assess how you experience anger. They will ask you to describe how you feel when you’re angry, which you may scoff at. Think about this question sincerely, though. When you are angry, you aren’t thinking much about anything other than your rage. But anger is a mask we use to disguise other feelings, ones that typically leave us feeling vulnerable or what we consider weak.
By learning how to unpack anger from within, you can start to piece together how your lifestyle and self-destructive habits are perpetuating a cycle. Anger is one piece of the puzzle, and counseling is designed to help you put everything together.
Certain strategies you may experience in anger management therapy include:
- Learning how to identify anger warning signs in the body.
- Deep breathing exercises to calm down.
- Muscle relaxation techniques.
- Mental triggers that impact how you interpret external events.
- Environmental or relationship factors that trigger your anger.
- Grounding techniques to calm down in the heat of the moment, including counting down from 10, using your senses and focusing on your breathing.
- Lifestyle changes to reduce stress including substance abuse treatment, exercise and meditation.
You can work with your counselor to pick and choose different strategies; anger management is an ongoing process, which requires frequent reflection and communication.
Get Connected With the Help You Need
We want to help you overcome your worst habits. Life doesn’t always unfold the way we want, but we do believe there is always a choice to do better. Reach out to us at 844-639-8371 to learn more about counseling, rehab and therapy options near you.