By Joe Croegaert, MSW, LCSW, Chapin & Russell Associates
With over 40 years of experience in the field of Social Work, I have developed a growing expertise in the area of anger management by working with persons struggling with the handling of anger problems in their personal lives, relationships, families, workplace, and community. I would like to share some of these thoughts for personal action in the article that follows.
People often struggle with anger management issues because of various past trauma experience(s) and/or the life scripts to which they have been exposed. Certainly, our societal economic stressors contribute to anger management issues, especially for those who appear to have a pre-disposition for these kinds of problems. Often, individuals who have been exposed to domestic violence and trauma as they were growing up also appear to be predisposed to having anger management issues. As a first step to change, you must become self-aware of your pre-dispositions in order to properly prepare for effectively handling feelings of anger.
The second step in working with one’s anger is to be aware of your triggers. What words, interactions, tone, etc., tend to make one angry? One should try to become aware of their own triggers and with this awareness, practice using the principle of ‘think before you act.’ If a person is aware of their triggers, they can try to take a major step in managing their anger by practicing this ‘think before you act’ principle. In practicing this step, if possible, one may want to step away from or separate themselves from the person or situation that is beginning to make them angry. One should put an action plan in place to assist the person in diffusing the anger so making a list of possible trigger situations and action plans to address each trigger is a great exercise to put in place.This could be a part of one’s own Relapse Prevention Plan.
The third step that one can take in managing their own anger is to practice using some mindful exercises to try to help one relax and diffuse these anger feelings. There are a variety of exercises that one can do carrying out this third step. A person can practice: slow, deep breathing; use a progressive relaxation technique where you tense your different muscle areas and then relax these muscle areas one by one; use a technique called imagery or focusing where the individual thinks of a pleasant scene and tries to concentrate on this scene — maybe it’s a scene on a beach or sitting amidst prairie flowers or sitting on a fishing boat on a calm blue lake.
The fourth step may also be to do a distractive activity like walking away, focusing on doing another physical activity like doing housework, working out or working on a house project, reading something positive, watching a TV show, or watching sports.
A fifth step may require the person to seek some assistance from a professional Counselor and their Physician or Psychiatrist. Sometimes individuals need further help through counseling in order to more effectively work out past and current experiences and to expand upon the steps noted above. An individual may also want to consult with their doctor about trying an anti-depressant medication or mood stabilizer, if the self-help and counseling is not effectively managing one’s anger issues.
Hopefully, the above stated steps are helpful to an individual to better manage their anger, using self-help, and seeking outside counseling or medical consultation if necessary.
Joe Croegaert is a Counselor in the Practice of Chapin & Russell Associates, 3020 W. Willow Knolls Drive, and he can be reached by calling 309-681-5850. Back to Top
July 01, 2019
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