Lessons From Anger
Anger can be good. Really good... In fact, expressing anger helps us release the pent up tension that we’ve been bottling up, and like most things in recovery, speaking it out loud sets you one step closer to being able to let it go. It is important to understand that we often resort to anger as an automatic, self-preservation strategy, but anger is rarely spurred as a primary emotion. It is the reaction of another unwanted or uncomfortable feeling. Whether we are reacting to external stimuli with feelings of inadequacy, guilt, or a variety of other emotions: it is not uncommon for our innate fight or flight instincts to automatically kick in. When our brain kicks into “fight” mode: anger is the ultimate result. Anger is an issue when it becomes our default reaction, even in times when it is not warranted or fundamentally unhelpful. Once this starts to happen, it is imperative to reign anger in and manage it more appropriately, looking instead for the other emotions that are spawning it.
ADDICTION AND ANGER
Active addiction commonly puts us in a state of constant defensiveness. In order to “protect” the addiction, the brain reacts with hostility to people, situations, and confrontations that threaten the future ability to use. Recovery requires overcoming anger in an effort to cope with the roots causes of whatever lies beneath the anger.
Self Awareness Activity: ISOLATE ANGER
Think about common situations that incite anger and write them down.
*List out the other emotions that manifest in each situation.
*Ask yourself, “does my anger make it better?”
*Identity what would need to happen to resolve each situation.
*Dedicate yourself to resist anger and attempt to implement a different strategy the next time one of these situations, or a similar one, presents itself.
Skill of the Week: A.N.G.E.R.
A – Assess Aggression
N – Needs Not met?
G – “Go to Reaction” observation
E- Evaluate for Effectiveness
R- Redirect anger Reaction for Optimal Results.
Take time to breathe when you get angry. Instead of acting on anger impulses, try a quick 4-step approach to wrangling it in, so that you can get the most out of what you're feeling.
2. Breathe Deeply
3. Count to 10
4. Ask yourself: Is it really worth losing your cool?
PROACTIVE COPING SKILLS are necessary for anger management because the less stressed you are, the better prepared you are for coping with adversity. Take a look at stress management skills to assist with proactive anger management; sleep hygiene, exercise, meditation.
Recovery IS Possible!
Meg Glidden, MS, NCC