Effectively Dealing with Impulsive Anger

Anger gets a bad rap. This is especially true when the anger is expressed impulsively without a clear understanding as to where the intensity is coming from. It is not unusual for people who fly off the handle impulsively to judge it as wrong and later feel regret. In reality, anger is just an emotion, nether good nor bad.  The importance lies in how you deal with that emotion. If expressed inappropriately, anger can be hurtful to the person expressing it as well as the person who may be on the receiving end .

People who express anger inappropriately can be influenced by triggers that they may not be consciously aware of. Stress, pressures from and home and/or unresolved past issues can easily be the trigger that brings one over the edge. Childhood criticism, feelings related to past hurts, anger, sadness, fears and loss can all act as present day triggers.

If you are  tired of anger controlling you rather you controlling it, you may want to start becoming more aware of your behavioral patterns. Once you cool off after an outburst, take a hard look at what had just occurred. Resist the temptation to blame the other person for your behavior  Rather, examine what was going on within you that heightened your irritability.

Understand that other people are different, and react to what they perceive as reality may be different than you. This can be frustrating and disappointing to you at times but it is a reality of life. In order to harness your impulsive anger, this reality of life needs to accepted, Coupled with this is to  examine ways that you need to change your behavior. This may be difficult in that there is tendency to blame others for our irritability.  It is common to think that if only the other person would change, you would less apt to be irritable. This way of thinking rarely works.

Listen to how you talk and sound when you angerly express yourself to others.  You may have spent years dealing with irritants in the same old impulsively reactive way. This does not mean that you are destined to react this way forever. You can begin to become more aware of patterns, Begin to ask yourself, What effect does your behavior have on you and the other person(s)?  Did your behavior resolve the issue to a positive conclusion?  The answers to these questions can result in new ways of thinking and behaving that will improve how you view and react to any potentially explosive situation.

Regularly taking mini breaks by practicing brief deep breathing exercises can help you stay calm. By practicing, at various times during the day, this relaxation technique will help you have a more relaxed demeaner and be in more control of yourself.  If this proves to be difficult for you, research the possibility of taking a meditation, yoga or Tai Chi classes. Even utilizing the technique of silence, when your “button gets pushed”, can be more appropriate until you cool off.

By now you should be aware of some of the topics, and situations that come up that are most likely to bring out your impulsive reactions. Changing the way you think about these frustrating situations can improve the way you react.  Most likely you don’t react to the situation at hand but are upset about something else and the present irritant is “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

Feeling a sense of powerlessness is often the cause of impulsive use of anger.  This sense of powerlessness may be related to various aspects of you life, past or present. If you are regularly express irritability in an impulsive manner, do not be quick to blame outside forces.  More often than not you are unconsciously attempting to deal with some sense of powerlessness in your life. When you in a calmer period, be honest with your introspection. This means looking within yourself, maximizing self honesty and minimizing blaming others. Beginning to develop personal power over yourself far outweighs being frustrated by not having power over others,

Remember that no matter what strategies you use to deal with you impulsive expression of anger, the use of mood altering substances can easily adversely affect your judgement. Going back to being honest with yourself, curtail any rationalization that alcohol. recreational or illegal drugs don’t have an affect on your behavior. They do!

Seeking professional assistance may also help you in developing  strategies to effectively deal with your triggers.  If you seek a professional, be sure to follow through on the treatment plan. Be open and honest as to what works and what does not. Any change of behavior never goes smoothly. There will be setbacks and resistance, What would work with someone else may not necessarily work with you. This is only natural. Working closely with a professional would help understand the differences and come up with what works best for you.

As always, comments suggestions and feedback are welcomed by e-mailing me, Ray Shocki PhD, LCSW, LMFT at lifesourcecenter@aol.com.