Learning to manage anger is a daily choice some of us have to make. My frustration level has been so high for the past three weeks that I’ve had to remind myself of checking my fuse. Anger is not a bad emotion; it’s when it becomes too strong, happens frequently and begins to last too long that it becomes a problem. When out of hand, anger ruins relationships and can lead to violence or aggression. This is why it’s important to understand your anger.
If you have children, you can use this concept of the “Firework” to teach your child how to recognize their triggers as well as what goes on inside their body as they begin to get angry. I will write a blog specifically on how to teach children about anger soon. In the meantime, use this form with pictures to learn about your triggers, how long your fuse is and what occurs in your body (How’s Your Fuse_ Understanding Anger). If you haven’t read blog post, Anger’s Two Cousins, please do so.
Match – Trigger that lights up your fuse
The match represents the triggers or events that are perceived as threats to: person or property, self-identity or self-esteem and getting your perceived needs met. Examples: (1) You are an hour late to your business meeting due to traffic, (2) Your friend forgot your birthday or (3) Your teenage daughter rolled her eyes at your request.
Get to know what pushes your anger button. Many people are surprised that once anger triggers are recognized, they are able to be proactive and take steps to ensure those buttons are not pushed. It sounds simple, but you may need to take some time to actually think about this. Next time you begin to get upset, notice what event (person, comment, facial expression or statement) pushes your anger button. Then, you remember you have three choices:
- Avoid the trigger
- Change the way you think about the person or situation (trigger)
- Use calming techniques to reduce the level of arousal
Fuse – Your reaction (thoughts)
These are the automatic thoughts you may have. Examples: (1) “How could he say that about me?” (2) “How can he be so cruel?” (3) “I feel so upset.”
Avoiding your triggers is not always possible, but you can change the way you view the triggers in your life. The more thought you give into what triggers you, the longer your fuse will get. This will give you an opportunity to think about your choices. One thing that has always helped me in dealing with anger is the following script: “I can’t change others, I can and choose to change how I react.” Next time your thoughts spiral down a negative path, remember to change them and see how that affects how you feel. See blog post – The Link Between Thoughts and Feelings
Explosive Container – Your body’s response
These are the physical symptoms that your body experiences (body sensations) as well as feelings.
Examples: Sweating, heart pounding, hand makes a fist, shoulders tense, headaches, etc. Includes feelings: Sad or insulted.
Many individuals are not aware of what their body is experiencing when they are getting upset. Learn to listen to your body. Tune into your body sensations and learn to give yourself a break. Don’t let it escalate to the point of no return. Allow yourself to relax. If you don’t, chances are you will regret your choices. In addition, recognize your feelings about the situation. If you feel safe enough, express those emotions to the person whom you are having the conflict. Don’t bottle your feelings and thoughts. Instead, express them in a proper and timely manner.
Steps to Controlling Anger:
- Take a deep breath!
- Realize that anger is a decision – you must control it or it will overtake you.
- Understand that there are consequences. What will happen is you let anger control you? Make a list.
- Reflect before reacting. Ask yourself: Why am I angry? What do I need? How can I verbalize it?
- Talk to the person you are upset with. Don’t bottle it up. Instead, take some time to talk it out once you are calm.
- Re-Program your mind. You can only change your mind, not others. Let go of what is out of your control.
I hope this has helped you have a better understanding of anger and how just being aware of your triggers, your body sensations and thoughts can help you keep anger under control. There is so much more to learn about anger and I will continue to post more information. With everything we do, practice is key.
Rest in His Word: Proverbs 22:24-25
“Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious – don’t get infected.” (MSG)
- How long is your fuse? Short – Medium – Long
- What can I do today to help me be more aware of my triggers?
- What thoughts are feeding into my anger triggers? Write them down and then re-write them into a more healthy and positive perspective.
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