According to a recent Mental Health Foundation survey, 28% of people were concerned about how angry they feel on occasion. Are you one of them? Or perhaps you are one of the 32% who raised concerns over a relative or friend who struggles to control anger.
While we all get irritated and annoyed, for some of us, the pathway to uncontrollable and inappropriate anger is well travelled. What causes this uncontrolled reaction? What effect does it have on our bodies? Most importantly, what can help?
The cause of anger
We all know what causes our anger, or do we? We may confidently blame the driver that cuts us up regularly, the person that pushes in front of us in the supermarket queue, the pedestrian lights that turn to red when there is no pedestrian in sight. The simple truth, however, is this: anger does not come from outside, it comes from within. There are 2 main triggers for anger:
- Our interpretation of an event
- The way we express ourselves in response
The effects of anger
In the following list of health conditions, how many do you think may be made worse by uncontrolled anger?
ANXIETY HEADACHES IBS
DEPRESSION BACK PAIN HEART ATTACK
INSOMNIA HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE LOW SELF ESTEEM
ECZEMA STROKE SELF HARM
The startling truth is that ALL of the above conditions can result from continued and uncontrolled outbursts. Scary, isn’t it? So how can we help ourselves be calmer and healthier?
If you recognise that you struggle to control your anger, and that your reactions are completely out of proportion, you could try the following?
- Identify your trigger points What sets off your anger? What specific situations completely wind you up? Remember: Forewarned is forearmed.
- …and breathe… Before you respond to any situation, take a deep breath. Give yourself a ‘time out’ moment to just stop and think. This helps you not to automatically respond as you would normally.
- Walk away If control over your emotions is not immediately forthcoming, walk away. It is most definitely the best response. Return when you feel ‘cooler.’
- Question yourself Ask yourself: What am I getting angry about? Is it worth it? Have I blown things out of proportion? How important is this in the long-term?
If you feel that you may need an extra helping hand, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) may help you to identify the unhelpful thoughts (interpretations) which trigger the (angry) feelings and subsequent behaviours that you want to change. Once identified, unhelpful thoughts can be replaced with more helpful, calm, balanced thoughts, so that your feelings cool down, and you can behave more rationally.
So, if you’re going to get hot under the collar about something, why not make it about the positive effects that CBT treatment has had on your life? It may be an invaluable investment in your health and relationships.
To understand more about CBT and where to find it, try the following websites:
Or give us a call at CBT Networks (on 0845 345 7669), and talk to one of our expertly trained CBT therapists or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.