Imagine that someone that you made plans with changed things on you at the last minute. Do you sigh heavily in frustration but go along with the new plan, refuse to change from your original plan, or yell at them about how inconsiderate they are of your time? How you respond shows how well or poorly you control your emotions.
Anger is a natural human emotion, so having feelings of anger is not a problem. When anger affects your well-being or those around you, it can signify that your outward expressions of anger have become a problem.
5 Signs You Have Anger Issues
Here are five signs that you get angry too often.
1. Your Anger Issues Concerns You
If you have concerns over how often you get angry, the inability to keep control over your anger, how long you stay angry, or your behavior that corresponds to the anger, it’s a sign that you have an anger problem. Your feelings about your emotions are a significant clue to your anger being something you need to control before it gets worse.
In one study, anger predicted substance use for women, and impulsivity was more strongly associated with delinquency for males. Lack of control over strong emotions can lead to other out of control behavior.
2. Your Anger Issues Cause Other People to Fear Your
Experts diagnose sudden outbursts as Intermittent Explosive Disorder, and it impacts approximately 16 million Americans.
If you are prone to overreacting when you are angry, others may have been avoiding you. You can see signs of fear in others by observing their body language. When you do finally see them, their body language might seem defensive. For example, their arms are crossed over their chest, and they stand with one foot turned toward the door. They may avoid eye contact or seem to apologize excessively.
On the other hand, it is unlikely that you would notice how your behavior affects others if you have an anger problem. You may have become blind to the impact that your actions have had on those closest to you. If you think that your anger may be affecting your relationships, it is a sign that it may be a problem.
3. You Have Anxiety About How You Will Feel After an Angry Outburst
You may have noticed that you can’t predict how you will respond when someone tells you something you don’t want to hear. If you are worried that you will overreact at any given moment when you interact with someone, you likely have an anger problem.
You may also feel depressed about your actions after a bout of anger. If your emotions swing to sadness, you are more prone to harm yourself with other out of control behavior such as self-medication with alcohol or drugs. Seek the help of a licensed counselor to work through your emotional distress if it concerns you.
4. It Takes You an Hour or More to Regain Emotional Control
Everyone gets upset, but it could be a good reason to be concerned if you have trouble releasing your angry feelings. It can be unhealthy for you to have these feelings over a long period of time. An article published in Psychology Today explains that it takes the body about twenty minutes to calm down after the fight or flight response kicks in.
Here’s how that works.
When you get angry, your blood pressure increases, and your heart rate speeds up. You might sweat, and you have a rush of adrenaline. A prolonged period of heightened arousal from anger is similar to the effects of stress on your body.
After an angry outburst, your physiological stress levels should return to normal within a fairly short amount of time. You should be able to feel calm and relaxed again within 30 minutes following the angry episode.
You should also be able to move your thoughts on to focusing on a solution to whatever upset you. If you are having trouble with either your physiological anger response or your thoughts returning to a calm state, it is a sign that you have an anger problem.
5. You Have Violent Thoughts or Actions
Throwing things, kicking or overturning furniture, slamming doors, or other violent actions are signs of a problem. Violence toward objects can become violence toward others. Seek help before you cause harm to another person.
Similarly, violent thoughts about causing harm to others are concerning. If you have thoughts about hurting people, it can be frightening to confront those thoughts. You can text the Crisis Text Line at 741741 if you are experiencing an emotional crisis and need help. You can also seek a licensed counselor in your area to work through your feelings of anger.
According to the team at the Kentucky Counseling Center, Cognitive-Behavior Therapy proves to help reduces negative feelings in those who try the therapy. The therapy uses techniques of relaxation and restructuring thoughts, focusing on solving problems and learning to prepare for stressful situations.
Ten Practical Ways to Manage Your Anger Issues
Now that you see you have anger issues, how do you address them? Here are ten things you can try.
When you feel anger set in, practice your relaxation skills. Focus on deep breathing, imagine your favorite place, repeat a calming phrase, listen to music, or write in your journal. Yoga is another good way to relax, so learning a few yoga poses can help, too.
The best relaxation technique for you might be different than what works for someone else. Focus on finding an activity that helps you reduce your anger, and practice it to make the techniques to make them more effective.
2. Work on Forgiveness and Empathy
Forgiveness is more powerful than you might initially realize. Letting go of the negative feelings will help you let go of bitterness, injustice, and anger. As you practice forgiveness, you will feel the anger leave your body.
Empathy can also help you let go of the anger. As you view the situation from someone else’s perspective, you might form a new level of understanding. With understanding, you can begin to let go of the negative feelings as you recognize the reasoning.
3. Identify and Avoid Triggers
To fix your anger issues, start by identifying your triggers. You can’t blame other people or circumstances for your behavior, but you can figure out what sets you off. Spend a week or so tracking your anger issues by making notes of the following:
- people that were involved
- the place it happened in
- what the situation was
- the time of day
While you can’t control other people or situations, you can structure your day differently to help. You can also try to avoid certain people or events that trigger your anger. Even if you can’t avoid the trigger, knowing that it is coming will help you handle it better.
4. Don’t Speak Without Thinking It Through
When you’re angry, it’s tempting to say the first thing that comes to mind. It’s also tempting to say something that you know will hurt the other person. Avoid doing this, though, because it will only make you feel worse.
Rather than saying things that you’ll regret later, take a few minutes to collect your thoughts. You can even practice what you want to say before having the conversation to see how it sounds. Avoid saying anything offensive as it can do more harm.
5. Walk Away When You Feel Angry
When you feel your anger rising, walk away and take a few minutes to yourself. Doing this will give you a chance to prepare for what’s ahead without letting your anger issues control you.
As you’re taking this timeout, think about if your anger will help or hurt the situation. If it’s helpful, work on changing the situation rather than focusing on your anger. However, if it isn’t helpful, try to change your mindset and emotional state instead.
Once you’ve calmed down a little and thought about the situation, you can positively address it. Assertively express your frustration or anger, ensuring that you aren’t confrontational.
6. Find Something to Laugh About
You can release tension and anger by finding humor in the situation. Try using a light-hearted joke or doing something funny to make things less tense. Be careful to avoid sarcasm, though, as it can make things worse.
If you can’t find humor in the situation making you angry, find something else to laugh about. Watch a comedy, listen to a funny podcast, or play with your kids. Whatever it is that makes you laugh and brings joy, spend time on that activity.
7. Do a Physical Activity
When you get angry, physical activity can help alleviate the feeling and clear your thoughts. Since anger makes you more energetic anyway, you might as well put it to good use.
When you first start feeling the anger escalating, go for a run or a brisk walk. You could also do some strength training at the gym or find other physical activities that help you decompress.
8. Learn to Recognize Warning Signs That Trigger the Anger issues
Even if you feel like your anger hits unexpectedly, there are usually some warning signs first. If you can learn these warning signs and recognize them in yourself, you can control your anger issues. Some indicators to watch for include:
- a faster heartbeat
- your face feeling hot
- clenched fists
- racing thoughts
9. Put Your Energy into Finding an Immediate Solution
Instead of focusing on the situation angering you, try switching your mindset and thinking about a solution. If it is the same trigger most of the time, learn to adjust to the problem.
For instance, if your child often leaves for their friend’s house without cleaning up their room, shut the door. If your partner is continually late for dinner, choose a later meal time. While this doesn’t resolve the underlying issue, it keeps your anger in check, helping you maintain your wellbeing.
10. Talk to a Close Friend
Choose someone calming that you are comfortable with and talk to them about what’s bothering you. Explain your issue and feelings to them and listen to their feedback.
Your friend can help you find a solution other than an angry outburst, and you can work through your feelings. A fresh perspective can help diffuse any situation.
How we respond to being upset is something that we learn as children by watching those around us. We can unlearn those behaviors and learn to replace acting out with more productive actions instead. A trained therapist is the best option for you if you have unsuccessfully tried to make changes on your own.
You can try one or two of the coping strategies on your own. If you need additional help to restore peace and calm, try seeing a counselor. There is no shame in seeking professional help for your anger issues. You can only grow stronger from experience.