Anger can be addictive. In human neurobiology, the anger center is placed near the edge of the cortex along with other basic emotions, like fear and pleasure, and primal urges such as hunger, dominance, parenting instincts, and sex. A rush of anger is basically a rush of adrenaline, after which your brain rewards your body for “effectively” dealing with a stressful situation by releasing the happiness hormone we know as dopamine.
Anger can act like any other addiction – if you let it consume you for a while, it will become something you can’t live without. However, anger is a particularly dangerous addiction, because it feeds your ego and allows it to flourish in darkness. Below, we’ll discuss some of the important ways you can learn to manage and even overcome anger in your daily life.
1. Understand the Consequences
As with any addiction, anger harms your physical and mental self, but that’s not all. Your actions caused by anger can disturb your family environment, make your friends an inch more distant every day and disrupt your office workflow.
Before you know it, only your anger and you will be left. There’s only so much that the people around you can take, and you shouldn’t look at their patience as a testament to how much you mean to them; your outbursts are actually hurting them and they’ll eventually snap and stop hanging out with you.
2. Recognize Your Anger
Anger is a dark companion and it’s quite possessive when it comes to sharing you with others. In time, you’ll turn to it for compassion or as a means of getting what you want, and you’ll start seeing it as an ace up your sleeve. Obviously, this is one method of avoidance that’s most effective.
Anger isn’t a problem you must face yourself. You can always ask for professional help, but I personally believe that you can also try to conquer it on your own. You may come out stronger and significantly more confident.
So, let’s go through those very familiar symptoms: your blood pressure rises, making your whole body boil; you start focusing on one specific thing that keeps enraging you further; your hands start shaking and it feels like your vision is blurred; the adrenaline increases your blood pressure; and the very next thing you do is start yelling and throwing things that have the unfortunate fate of being within arm’s reach.
3. Don’t Do Anything While You’re Consumed
Many people who have an anger addiction, and those around them, will take the path of least resistance and use all sorts of excuses instead of pointing out the problem, using words like “temperamental.”
You need to face reality. You’re not temperamental, you’re addicted to anger. It isn’t something you can simply shake off, you need to fight it. The fact is, it won’t just go away, but as with any other addiction, recognizing it as a problem is the first and the most important step towards recovery.
The next situation that makes your face red is your first test. It will be very difficult not to let it consume you and you shouldn’t be mad at yourself if and when it does, so your test lies in handling such a situation effectively. The right thing to do when your conscious self becomes the evil version of you is: nothing. Simply acknowledge that you are in an altered state of consciousness, stop talking, take a few long deep breaths and even excuse yourself and go to the bathroom to splash some water on your face if you have to.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the regret that comes after your blood pressure goes back to normal. Saying things you don’t actually mean and making others feel bad about themselves while your stress levels skyrocket needs to stop. I know you’ll feel devastated later, but the words “I’m sorry” just lose their true meaning when you repeat them over and over.
4. Avoid Getting into Stressful Situations
Nobody wants to be an angry person, you just become one in time. Do you want to be perceived as a red hot mess that just keeps yelling at people and acting out whenever any sort of problem pops up? I’m sure the answer is no, and it’s time to roll up your sleeves and do something about it, like the mature adult that you are.
It’s easy to let yourself be ruled by anger and become a completely different person to who you really are deep down inside. Dealing with anger starts inside, but because it’s affected by outside factors and everyday situations, you need to cut them off temporarily.
If you feel that someone’s starting a topic that is going to get you fired up or is just being a bit of a jerk, walk away – don’t even engage in a discussion if you don’t have to. Driving around town can be an extremely stressful experience for some, but if you know a thing or two about road rage you can actually work on identifying potential problems in advance and doing simple things like getting up a bit earlier to avoid traffic jams or taking a different route to work.
Constantly facing your sources of anger and reacting to them with the same heat will get you nowhere. You need to realize that this impulsive and loud reaction of yours is a mask you put on because you can’t find a solution to the real problem. In order to think clearly and explore explanations, so you can discover the real answers your mind seeks, you need to spend some time alone.
Naturally, you shouldn’t avoid people who don’t cause you any stress, but you should use this time to relax and learn about yourself once again and find out what wonders lie beneath that ugly, angry surface.
5. Develop Your Own Methods of Calming Down
My experience has shown that the best thing to do when you get consumed by anger is to relocate yourself physically and mentally. In time, I developed a routine of my own and at the very moment that I feel the first wave of anger coming on, I imagine how the situation will unfold if I don’t calm down and how it would look to an outside observer.
Now, learning to be even somewhat objective in these situations takes a lot of time and restraint, but you’ll eventually be able to take your ego and jockeying for social status out of the equation and see things for what they truly are. This is when you’ll realize that you almost started threatening a person with physical violence over something as trivial as a can of soda missing from the fridge.
It’s a psychological fact that the physical change has a significant effect on your mood. Therefore, standing up, walking, taking deep breathes and even changing your vocabulary when you start getting mad will change your reaction. Also, instead of screaming when you’re upset, you should use talking tools that enable you to express your frustrations.
By using phrases like “I’m sorry, I just got angry there for a second” or “I’m a bit stressed out right now, let’s discuss this later when I’ve got a cool head,” you’ll encounter acceptance by people around you, which is another great way to lower your anger levels.
And in the meantime, there’s some work to be done on your mindset. I’m sure you have already heard this piece of advice many times now, but that’s because it works: you should meditate. Meditative exercises will enable you to reach a calm place in your mind and you’ll be able to access it anytime you’re distressed. Beginning each day by having a short chat with yourself about staying calm throughout the day will also help.
Anger is a normal and natural reaction, but there’s a time and place to express it, and it shouldn’t be done without a proper reason. Basically, you shouldn’t try to suffocate your anger, because that will just feed it further – take things slow, don’t give up at the first sign of trouble and you’re bound to conquer it. Besides, if you feel like you need help, you shouldn’t hesitate from seeing a professional and start your therapy. Either way, you’ll be your happy normal self as a result.