As the spread of COVID-19 continues so does the spread of anger. We’re all learning how to navigate this new world we’re a part of which can lead to judgement or disappointment in how others (or ourselves) are acting. The frustration around staying home and the way the world is changing, in addition to the sadness around the state of our country and loved ones getting sick or passing away can lead to the growth of anger. While we can’t fully control what’s happening in our external worlds, we can change how we show up in our relationships and experiences. It’s important to identify ways to increase awareness in order to take control of our emotions and effectively manage our anger.
It’s not uncommon for us to miss the signals our body is giving us leading to an outburst of anger. We may not actually have an anger problem but more so struggle to identify the negative emotions we’re having such as frustration or judgements. When we’re unable to identify these signs, we end up believing everything we’re thinking without challenging the validity of these thoughts. We often jump to conclusions without taking a moment to assess the validity.
So, what can you do to increase your self-awareness? Set an hourly alarm that reminds you to check in with yourself and how you’re feeling. Where in your body are you holding tension? Take notice of your thoughts. Is there something coming up consistently for you? Engaging in this practice allows you to take the time to notice if and when anger is starting to take place within your body.
Identify Your Triggers
Everyone has triggers whether we know it or not. Triggers can stem from past experiences you’ve had or other personal interactions. “Triggers are embedded in the subconscious mind out of awareness.” When you encounter one of your triggers you may respond strongly and not fully be aware of why. Taking time to think about and assess your reactions can help you determine what your triggers are and where they may be stemming from. If you struggle to come up with examples, think back to times where you’ve been told you’re overreacting and the behaviors that followed (defensiveness, anger, rage). Once you’ve done this, focus in on the thoughts you were having during and after this interaction. We all have internal narrative we create that may or may not be accurate. By identifying our thoughts and triggers we give ourselves the opportunity to take back control of them.
Use Your Anger for Good
While anger can sometimes be destructive, it can also be challenged to a purpose in a positive way. When you feel yourself becoming angry, take a moment to identify the purpose of your anger. If there doesn’t seem to be a purpose, ask yourself if you can you find a way to channel the emotions your feeling towards something more productive.
Take Control of Your Energy
Anger is an emotion that typically doesn’t feel the most productive or comfortable. As a result, many individuals suppress their anger which can lead to both physical and mental health problems. If we don’t take control of our anger and express ourselves effectively, we allow our anger to take control of us leading to depression, heart attacks, alcoholism, and many other issues in our attempt to overcome anger. While ignoring anger isn’t the answer, neither is giving into it. Making a conscious effort to expand our conflict capacity can allow us to use our anger effectively. This requires us to sit with the negative feelings anger brings forward. Giving ourselves the opportunity to process our anger can look like journaling, taking a walk, exercising, etc. Once we’ve processed our anger, we can then take steps to effectively communicating and using logic to make good decision.
If you’ve found yourself to manage your anger or identify triggers, it may be useful to try counseling in Chicago. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!