emotions

Anger Management

 
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Time to get your anger under control?

A closer look at managing your anger

 

Everyone gets angry at one time or another. Anger is a normal human emotion. It’s how a person acts when feeling angry that can be problematic. When anger builds in intensity or gets out of control, people can behave in ways that are destructive. In fact, anger can become so intense that the feeling itself may be better described as rage. When anger gets out of control, it can lead to problems in personal relationships, particularly if anger leads to emotionally or physically abusive behavior or other acts of violence.

The good news is that people can learn to manage their anger. In some cases this means learning to express anger in healthy ways, learning to keep yourself calm and controlling your reactions when faced with something that triggers your anger and avoiding people or situations that make you angry or enraged, or leaving a situation if you feel yourself becoming angry or losing control.

Expressing anger in healthy ways

Communicating assertively—not aggressively—is a good way to express anger in a healthy way, while maintaining effective communication. Being assertive doesn’t mean being pushy or demanding; it means expressing your feelings and needs in a way that is respectful of yourself and others. Generally this works best if used before your anger gets out of control.

For example, let’s suppose you are in a cafeteria line just about to get your tray when someone steps in ahead of you. An aggressive response might be, “Hey, buddy, who do you think you are? Go to the back of the line.” An assertive response might be, “Sorry, but I think I’m next. The line forms over here.”

Keeping calm

A physiological response also happens when a person gets angry. Heart rate increases and muscles become tense. These physiological responses can actually be cues that signal the person that they are becoming angry. Recognizing those cues and learning how to calm internal responses when faced with a person or situation that arouses anger can help angry feelings subside.

Different relaxation strategies might also be helpful:

  • Breathing deeply

  • Repeatedly telling yourself to remain calm or take it easy

  • Counting from 10 backwards

  • Imagining or visualizing an image that helps you relax or feel calm.

These responses can also be used before coming face to face with the person or situation—almost as a way to anticipate or prepare for what is stressful.

Remembering to slow down and stopping to think before reacting can also help you keep your cool. Reacting impulsively to what someone else says or does can fuel anger. By slowing down and stopping to think, you are better able to listen and really hear what the other person is trying to communicate. By stopping to think you can also give yourself time to think of other ways of solving the problem you might be facing.

Controlling your reactions

At times the things we say to ourselves or think when faced with a situation or person who makes us angry, can actually fuel your anger. The scientific term for changing your thinking is “cognitive restructuring” and it’s a technique rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy. Changing the way you think means switching up the irrational kinds of messages you give yourself to those that are more logical. For example, switching your thought patterns from “this is how things HAVE be” to “I’d ‘prefer’ this, but I can survive if it’s not…”.

Avoiding or leaving a stressful situation

In some cases, a person can identify the situations that often trigger their anger. Staying away from the situation isn’t always an option, but in some instances it could be. For example, if you know that it really pisses you off to see your old girlfriend hanging with her new boyfriend, you might want to avoid going to their favorite place to hang out. It doesn’t mean you will never go where they are, but maybe avoiding them initially while you are getting over the break up might help you keep your cool.

Also, if you feel yourself getting angry, another option is to leave the situation before things escalate. Sometimes people feel that leaving isn’t always easy to do because your reputation or need for respect is on the line. Cognitive restructuring might be useful as a way of challenging these thoughts.

It’s important that you give yourself the space you need to become level headed. If you don’t, you may end up saying or doing things you later regret. Tell the other people or person that you need to take a walk, and when everyone is able to talk calmly again, you’ll continue the conversation. It’s okay to have boundaries like this.

How might counseling help?

All of the above mentioned anger management techniques, and others, are skills that a counselor or other mental health professional can help you develop. If you feel that your anger is out of control and it’s affecting your relationships and other important parts of your life, you might consider counseling to learn how to better manage your anger. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be effective in helping people manage anger and aggressive and violent behaviors.

Information for this article was provided by:

 

Acknowledgements: This article was originally developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com

 
 

Happiness

 

Don’t worry, be happy

A closer look at becoming happier in your daily life

 

What is happiness?

Happiness can mean different things to different people. For example, for one person, it may mean being in a relationship, whereas for someone else, it could mean feeling like you have the ability to handle whatever life throws at you.

While you might think that there are certain things that make you happy (or could make you happy if you had them), research has shown that there are certain common traits among happy people—and they aren’t necessarily what you might think.

What makes happy people happy?

You might think that happy people have lots of money, are physically attractive, have great jobs, or own the latest gadgets. Or, you might just think happy people are plain lucky and are born that way.

Research suggests, however, that there are a number of variables that make a far greater contribution to happiness than external and more superficial factors.

That doesn’t mean that if you have a lot of money you won’t be happy, or that having a lot of money is bad, it just means that other factors are more important in determining happiness. In fact, a strong positive relationship between job status, income, and wealth and happiness only exists for those who live below the poverty line or who are unemployed.

What distinguishes happy people is that they have a different attitude—a different way of thinking about things and doing things. They interpret the world in a different way, and go about their lives in a different way.

Why is happiness important?

This might seem obvious. (Why wouldn’t you want to be happy?!) But the implications are greater than you might think. Happier people are generally healthier people—not only mentally, but also physically. Happiness is actually something that is really important, and that you might want to increase if you can.

The “happiness equation”

It has been suggested that there are several factors that contribute toward happiness. This is an ”equation for happiness,” suggested by psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman:

H = S + C + V

H = Happiness

S = Set range (genetics: about 50%)

C = Circumstances (8-15%)

V = Voluntary Control (past, present, future)

This looks very scientific, and is actually based on research findings, but it can be explained quite simply:

Set range/genetics. There is some evidence to support that people are born with a certain “set-point” of happiness, which is determined by our genes. This is supposed to change only slightly, if at all, as we get older. Our genetic predisposition to happiness contributes around 50% to our level of happiness.

So if something dramatic happens—for example, you win the lottery or break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend—within a year or so (depending on the situation), your happiness level will return to its set point.

Circumstances. There’s also some evidence to suggest that the circumstance we live in influence our level of happiness. You don’t always have a lot of control over your circumstances—for example, we can’t all live in mansions and drive new cars. Evidence suggests, however, that this accounts for only about 8% to 15% of our happiness, which really isn’t that much.

Voluntary control. This third factor is the most important factor in the equation, because you can control it, and in the process control your happiness. It includes all aspects of your life over which you have a relatively high degree of control, including your thoughts and actions. This includes the way you choose to think about and act on the past, present, and future, and seems to have a significant impact on how happy you are—it could be up to 42%!

  • Past. When thinking about the past, people who are happier pay attention to what was good about the past, rather than focusing on the unhappy times. They are grateful, forgiving, and don’t believe that the past will determine what happens in the future. For more information on gratitude, for the past, check out the Gratitude, forgiveness and their influence on your happiness fact sheet.

  • Future. When it comes to thinking about the future, happy people are flexibly optimistic. What this means is that they are optimistic (in a realistic sense) about how their future is going to be, but if it doesn’t turn out that way, they know it’s not going to be the end of the world either.

  • Present. The way you think about and act in the present is also essential in determining how happy you are. This might include actions like taking pleasure in life and your surroundings, building and being in meaningful relationships, and the way we react to things in life, good and bad.

You do have control over your happiness

You can see from this equation that you do have some control over your happiness. Even though a certain proportion of your happiness is beyond your control, and is determined by genetics and by circumstances (which you can only control to a certain extent), you can increase your happiness level by focusing on those areas in your life that you can control.

You might choose to control your attitude, the way you interpret situations and the way you think about yourself. If you think about it, and the fact that it could be accountable for around 40% of your happiness, this could make a big difference in your life.

But does aiming to be happy mean you can’t be sad?

Not at all. In fact, going through times where you’re sad can sometimes make that happiness all the brighter.

Sadness is a part of life, and sometimes it’s even possible to feel happy and sad about something. For example, you might be happy to move out of home, but sad that you won’t see your family or pets as much any more.

You might even wonder whether it’s possible, or O.K. to be happy, when there is so much suffering and injustice in the world. Happiness is natural, and it’s possible to be compassionate and caring, and in tune with the sadness of the world, while still experiencing happiness in your life. This awareness might even prompt you to act in a way to help improve the situation of others—an action that might actually increase your happiness.

Working on happiness

Happiness is something that means different things to different people, but overall it seems that it’s the way we choose to think about ourselves, our place in the world, and how we act in that world, that differentiates the happy people from the less happy people.

Happiness is something that you actually have voluntary control over and can work on in your daily life. Not only that, but it can contribute to a large proportion of your happiness, as seen in the equation. It’s up to you.

Information for this article was provided by:

Acknowledgements: This article was originally developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com