Uncontrolled anger can become a major barrier to a harmonious life. It can cause major damage in our personal, social and professional lives. The ways we handle anger and stress are learned responses. In other words, our reactions to difficult and stressful situations are largely based on how we observed our caregivers or other important people in our lives handle difficult and stressful situations. For example, if we had a mother that became verbally aggressive because she was stressed out, we may tend to do the same thing. What if we consistently saw our parents allow minor problems cause them major stress? Odds are we will grow up doing the same thing. Growing up around people that used fighting as a way to solve conflicts with other people could have taught us that we should use violence to solve our disputes instead of talking things out to find mutual resolutions.

The good news about maladaptive behaviors/reactions such as uncontrolled anger is that they can be readjusted into coping strategies that are more effective. There are several steps that you can take in order to get your anger under control. The first step is to identify what your anger triggers are. Anger triggers are those situations that frequently lead to you becoming mad.

The following exercise will help you identify your triggers and is a simple yet effective way to begin getting on the right track with managing anger. It can easily be adapted for identifying other emotions such as stress and anxiety among others.

Identifying Anger Triggers

1. Think back to the last time you became really angry. What happened?

2. Were there other emotions that came right before you became angry? Anger is a secondary emotion so you probably felt something else first such as embarrassment, betrayal, and shame, ect. See if you can identify what emotion came before your anger.

3. In the past 6 months how many times has a similar situation presented itself with similar results?

4. Think of other times when you have “lost it” and make a list of what happened in those situations that cause you to become so upset.

5. See if you can identify some commonalities among these situations.

The final list is a list of anger triggers. Once you have this list you should have more insight into what situations typically lead to you losing control on your emotions. Now that you have this list you can move forward with doing more work to get your anger under control. More to come.

By Tanya James, M.Ed., CAMF http://www.amofmetroatlanta.com

Anger Management Classes available 7 days a week in Houston, Texas.

Gregory A. Kyles, M.A., LPC, CEAP, CAMF
Director, Anger Management Institute of Texas
Diplomate, President of Texas Chapter
American Association of Anger Management Providers

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