Anger Management for Everyone

Anger Management seems to be a popular subject these days.  Anything from Charlie Sheen’s new television sitcom to court ordered anger management classes for celebrities, sports heroes and fans, and even politicians and your everyday Joe.  No one seems to know, understand or use proper anger management and rage control techniques and skills as basic as ‘think before you speak’ or just walk away until you cool off.  Unfortunately the lack of these skills can land you in legal hot water, jail or even in the hospital.

One thing is for sure, it does require an extra effort from those that seem to have a short fuse to begin with.  These days with the economy in the toilet, the upcoming elections and the ever popular prophecies of the End of the World scenarios predicted on December 21, 2012, people are more on the edge than ever before and no wonder. 
It doesn’t have to be this way.  Some simple tools and skills for managing stress, emotions and anger are at your fingertips if you just learn to use them.
Tom Wilson, LCPC, suggests that even those that are not court ordered to take an anger management class should consider taking one BEFORE something explosive happens.  He has even developed a new Cognitive Self Change class that gives you the tools for dealing with volatile situations using new approaches to manage anger and resolve conflict.
Here are some suggestions to use in your life.
First, learn to recognize the cues of anger;
  1. Physical Cues (how your body responds; e.g., with an increased heart rate, tightness in the chest, feeling hot or flushed)
  2. Behavioral Cues (what you do; e.g., clench your fists, raise your voice, stare at others)
  3. Emotional Cues (other feelings that may occur along with anger; e.g., fear, hurt, jealousy, disrespect)
  4. Cognitive or thought Cues (what you think about in response to the event; e.g., hostile self-talk, images of aggression and revenge)

And second, use what are called “Anger Reducers” to deal with hot emotions before they trigger an aggressive response;

Anger Reducer #1: Deep Breathing
How to use: When you recognize your cues, tell yourself “Relax, stay cool or other words to signal the start or relaxation. Take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Imagine that you are trying to keep a feather a float with your breath. Use deep breathing until your cues subside.

Anger Reducer #2: Backward counting from 20 to 1
How to use: As soon as you experience a cue, start counting backwards from 20 to 1 until your cues are lessened. Repeat if necessary.

Anger Reducer # 3: Switch Thinking to a Calm Scene or Distraction
How to use: As soon as you experience an anger cue, it becomes your signal to switch your thoughts to a calm scene or distraction until you feel calmer.

Anger Reducer #4: Time Out
How to use: As soon as you experience your cues or see the other person getting too angry to talk to take a personal T/O (excuse yourself) or suggest you come back to the discussion later. It takes a minimum of 20 minutes to an hour before your flight or fight system can calm down.

We can’t always anticipate what will trigger our anger but we can control how we respond if we stop and think BEFORE we react.
Cognitive Self-Change / Thinking Errors Classes:
ALL classes developed and monitored by Tom Wilson, a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who is also a Certified Alcohol and Substance Prevention Specialist. Tom is the author of “Taming Anger and Aggression”, an anger management program which has been taught to hundreds of people at the counseling center over the last twelve years. He specializes in adapting evidence-based substance abuse prevention programs for delivery through the web and other electronic media.