Stepping Back from the Edge: How to Deal with Anger in the Moment

Anger is a natural and healthy emotion that everyone feels from time to time. But when you find yourself being caught off guard with unexpected anger or feeling anger at a time when you can’t express it, it can be difficult to cope with.

So, what can you do when you find yourself feeling anger unexpectedly? Below are some strategies to help you keep your calm and respond appropriately.

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings
When you’re caught off guard with anger, you might start to feel defensive or emotional and not immediately know why. Before you do or say anything, assess your feelings and acknowledge that you’re angry, and what is the likely cause of the anger. “Our children got in a fight her child started, and she’s wrongfully blaming my daughter.”

2. Take a Breath
As you acknowledge you’re upset, stop and take a breath. Put physical distance between you and the other person by taking a couple of steps back.

3. Be Curious Instead of Furious
If you have difficulty controlling your anger, it can be all too easy to jump instantly into furious mode and unleash your anger. Instead of being angry, be curious. Consider why this person is behaving this way, or saying these things. Maybe they had a bad morning or heard some upsetting news.

4. It’s Not Personal
Remind yourself that this isn’t personal to you. Oftentimes when people are behaving inappropriately or saying hurtful things, it’s because of things going on with them in their own lives. Practice reminding yourself that it’s not personal to you.

5. Use “I” Statements
When you’re upset, it might not always be appropriate to respond. Sometimes it’s best to just walk away. But if you do need to say something, focus on the behavior you find unacceptable without placing blame. Talk specifically about your feelings and the effect of the behavior on you. By communicating without placing blame, you are more likely to be understood and work toward a resolution, rather than putting the other person on defense and starting a conflict.

If you’re still feeling upset after a difficult exchange, try calling a friend to vent, write your feelings down in a letter you’ll never send, or do some exercise. Go for a walk, or join a friend for spin class. Do something nice for yourself later, like cooking a special dinner or taking a hot bath. When it comes to anger, remember that in the long run it’s best for you to control it, rather than allow it to control you.

Are you having difficulty managing your emotions? Is anger beginning to have a significant negative impact on your life and relationships? A licensed mental health professional specializing in anger management can help. Call my office today and we can schedule an appointment to talk.

5 Tips For Dealing With An Adult Bully

Bullies in movies and television are frequently shown getting their come-uppance, the story wrapped up neatly with a happy ending and maybe even with the bully learning a lesson by the end. Unfortunately, real life is rarely so simple.

If you’re dealing with a bully as an adult, you’re not alone. A 2017 survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 60.3 million Americans are affected by workplace bullying. The number may be staggering, but the problem is not unsurmountable. Dealing with a bully as an adult is not the same as dealing with one as a child: you don’t need to rely on anyone to help, and the solution begins and ends with you. Following are five tips for dealing with an adult bully.

1.  Don’t try to fix them

You might be tempted to try and understand or help the bully. However, adults who bully have deep-rooted issues, and their cruelty can only be mended by self-realization and self-reflection. The odds are great that any attempt on your part to help your bully will be unproductive. Your time is better spent focused on yourself.

2.  Don’t sink to their level

It’s a completely natural human response to want to return the bully’s abuse. But if you sink to their level, it could backfire by either the bully turning it on you, or you may be seen by others as the source of the problem. Additionally, you’re satisfying the bully with your response. Take the high road so the bully doesn’t get a pay off, and you can’t be seen as having brought the problems upon yourself.

3.  Stop being a victim

For some reason, the bully has singled you out as a target. Changing your behavior and responses to the bully will change the dynamic. Keep your cool, be confident in your abilities, and if you’re the butt of their joke, laugh along with them. Failing to respond negatively, which is what they want, will cause them to lose interest and find another target.

4.  Limit your exposure

If your bully is at work, do what you can to avoid being in their presence. Take a different lunch hour, change your schedule, change departments if possible. Block the bully on social media, and if necessary, block their friends so you aren’t exposed to their negativity.

5.  Talk to someone

If your bully is at the workplace, it may behoove you to talk to your manager or Human Resources. Before you do so, consider possible repercussions. Anticipate worst-case scenarios so you can be prepared in case it’s somehow turned on you and your job is in jeopardy. Call a friend or loved one to vent or get advice. You can also talk to a mental health professional who can help you with specific strategies for managing this situation.

 

If you’re having difficulty dealing with a bully in your life and need the advice of a licensed, trained professional, I can help. Call my office today and let’s set up an appointment to talk.

5 Tips for Dealing with an Adult Bully

Bullies in movies and television are frequently shown getting their come-uppance, the story wrapped up neatly with a happy ending and maybe even with the bully learning a lesson by the end. Unfortunately, real life is rarely so simple.

If you’re dealing with a bully as an adult, you’re not alone. A 2017 survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 60.3 million Americans are affected by workplace bullying. The number may be staggering, but the problem is not unsurmountable. Dealing with a bully as an adult is not the same as dealing with one as a child: you don’t need to rely on anyone to help, and the solution begins and ends with you. Following are five tips for dealing with an adult bully.

1.  Don’t try to fix them

You might be tempted to try and understand or help the bully. However, adults who bully have deep-rooted issues, and their cruelty can only be mended by self-realization and self-reflection. The odds are great that any attempt on your part to help your bully will be unproductive. Your time is better spent focused on yourself.

2.  Don’t sink to their level

It’s a completely natural human response to want to return the bully’s abuse. But if you sink to their level, it could backfire by either the bully turning it on you, or you may be seen by others as the source of the problem. Additionally, you’re satisfying the bully with your response. Take the high road so the bully doesn’t get a pay off, and you can’t be seen as having brought the problems upon yourself.

3.  Stop being a victim

For some reason, the bully has singled you out as a target. Changing your behavior and responses to the bully will change the dynamic. Keep your cool, be confident in your abilities, and if you’re the butt of their joke, laugh along with them. Failing to respond negatively, which is what they want, will cause them to lose interest and find another target.

4.  Limit your exposure

If your bully is at work, do what you can to avoid being in their presence. Take a different lunch hour, change your schedule, change departments if possible. Block the bully on social media, and if necessary, block their friends so you aren’t exposed to their negativity.

5.  Talk to someone

If your bully is at the workplace, it may behoove you to talk to your manager or Human Resources. Before you do so, consider possible repercussions. Anticipate worst-case scenarios so you can be prepared in case it’s somehow turned on you and your job is in jeopardy. Call a friend or loved one to vent or get advice. You can also talk to a mental health professional who can help you with specific strategies for managing this situation.

 

If you’re having difficulty dealing with a bully in your life and need the advice of a licensed, trained professional, I can help. Call my office today and let’s set up an appointment to talk.

4 Everyday Exercises to Manage Your Anger

Unless you’re a Tibetan monk, surrounded by nothing but other peaceful Tibetan monks, chances are you run into people and events that make you plain ol’ angry sometimes. And that’s okay. Anger is a very common human emotion, and in many instances, it can serve as a compass that guides you to better choices and situations.

For instance, if you feel yourself become angry on more than one occasion at work while interacting with your boss, it may be an indication that you need to learn to communicate your ideas better, not take things personally, or even find a job and work environment that is better suited to your skillset and personality.

But while anger can serve as a guide to some people, to others anger is like an uncontrollable monster. It wreaks havoc on everything it encounters, including personal relationships.

If you are one of those people who find that they get carried away with anger emotions, it’s important that you learn how to manage your feelings and reactions to those feelings. Here are 4 everyday exercises you can do to manage your anger.

1.  Recognize It

Your very first step to control your anger is to recognize when it is creeping up on you. Be honest with yourself and admit that, for whatever reason, you seem to be getting very angry very quickly these days. Pay attention to the events of your life and your reaction. When you feel that feeling coming on, recognize it. What does it feel like? What are some of the triggering events that usually bring it on?

The very act of being aware of the anger in the moment can help dissipate it. When you recognize it, tell your anger, “I control you, you don’t control me.”

2.  Reframe the Situation

When we haven’t slept well, have low blood sugar, or we’re just in a grumpy mood for whatever reason, it’s entirely too easy to see a situation in a way that is not realistic. When you are called to anger, stop and reframe the situation to see if there is a better explanation for a triggering event.

For instance, if someone cuts you off in traffic you have two options: You can assume they did it intentionally to p*ss you off, or you can reframe that to come up with a better explanation: it wasn’t intentional, they didn’t see you.

While getting cut off in traffic is never pleasant, you have the ability to rethink the situation so it is less angering. You can reframe any situation that might trigger you. Try it.

3.  Take Deep Breaths

You’ve probably heard countless times that breathing deeply in stressful situations can relax you almost immediately, but have you ever tried it? Slow, deep breaths can have a profound impact on our entire body, relaxing our muscles and slowing our heart rate. Give it a try the next time you feel your anger rising. You will be shocked at how effective deep breathing is.

4.  Visualize

Your imagination is powerful. We knew this as kids, but for some reason puberty seems to have dulled our awareness of this.

As you breathe deeply, visualize a pleasant environment or situation. You could imagine you are back in your grandparent’s house, the smell of gingerbread cookies in the air and the sound of the radiators hissing on a December morning. Or you could imagine you are on a tropical beach. Hear the waves lapping against the white-sand shore… smell the sea breeze and see the palm fronds swaying overhead.

Your consciousness doesn’t know real from imagined situations. As you imagine yourself someplace that is peaceful and happy, your body naturally reacts as if you are actually there and actually peaceful and happy.

These are just some of the exercises you can use to manage your anger. If you still feel overwhelmed by your emotions and you’d like to speak to someone about your anger issues, please contact me. I’d be happy to discuss counseling options with you.