Anger and Aggression….

Question:
When someone starts calling me names or taunting me, it winds me up very easily. Especially when they say things that I feel hit a nerve. Things like saying I have no friends, that I’m weird or a loner, the one that gets to me quickest is when they mention that I don’t have a girlfriend or worse still, if they ask me where she is (I’ve not dated anyone since my girl killed herself a few years ago).

The worst part of it is that the closer the person is to me, the worse I react. If I don’t care about someone’s opinion or the person in general I’ll just ignore them but the people I care about end up being the ones I’ll take it out on. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, it’s like I focus all my aggression on myself and my close friends. More myself than anyone else. I’d probably be dead already had I not read about using ice instead of razors to mimic cutting instead of actually doing it a while back. I find myself wanting to attack people when they say bad things about me, but the things they say are true, so I take it out on myself. It’s better that way. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but when they push me to a certain point it’s almost like I’m just watching myself do it.

Answer:
Dear Friend,
It’s normal to feel badly when someone puts you down or disrespects you. We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
But, you need to work on feeling confident about yourself and how to express your feelings and responses in healthy and assertive ways to those people.
Here are some ideas:
1. Change your self-talk to: “that person may be trying to get my goat – but, I’m not going to let him/her.” “I’m going to tell that person how I feel and that they should not be talking disrespectfully to me.”

2. Take a break: “I’m going to take a breather and think about how to respond to that person later.” Taking a time-out will give your body time to cool-down and the frontal cortex of your brain time to start taking over the emotional (amydala) portion of your brain which wants to lash out.

3. Consider going to counseling to work through the self-mutilation, low self-esteem, grief and other issues you are dealing with. When you feel badly about yourself – you will emotionally overreact to put-downs.
See the directory of counselors at:  www.counselcareconnection.org ,
www.aacc.net and www.nbcc.org

4. Learn some anger management skills to help you cope with these situations. See www.whatsgoodaboutanger.com for FAQs, Quick Tips for Managing Anger Podcasts and the All About Anger blog.
_________________
Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC, CAMS-V, Certified Anger Management Specialist-V
What’s Good About Anger podcasts, blog, resources

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Have you ever wondered what causes anger to rear it’s ugly head so quickly?  In our books I have talked about how expectations, self-talk and choices trigger and amplify anger.
Anger is ultimately a physiological and a cognitive response to certain triggers.  It’s different for everyone. You might be able to shrug-off some triggers such as –  a co-worker not listening to you but, fly into a rage when you can’t get your spouse’s attention.
What you tell yourself or the expectations you hold onto for other people and life goals will impact how you respond to those triggers. You then make the choice to act on the anger you feel.
How can you break out of this? How can you stop the yelling, sarcasm or hidden anger which entangles you in resentment and infects your relationships?
We teach the time-out skill as one of the best methods to stop anger from exploding or imploding.
“But, I don’t want to take a time-out when I feel angry”, you argue, “I want people to understand how they are wrong. I want to be understood. I want to get the problem solved.”
I hear these arguments from students and clients all the time. I can identify with these feelings when I’m experiencing conflict or disappointments.
The important aspect of this skill is that it stops anger from escalating. It stops the physiological fight/flight response we all have when someone or something triggers our anger.
When we take a time-out, we can implement some of the stress management or relaxation skills. During the time-out we can identify what is really happening and write out what we want or need. Maybe during the time-out we’ll discover that what we want is unrealistic or demanding. Or maybe we’ll find out that what we want is reasonable and necessary. Taking a time-out when we feel angry – can help us think through the issues and go back to the other person with one or two  requests or with an apology or with some options for working through our differences or misunderstandings.
So, why not take a break when you feel anger rising inside you?  A time-out will help you put a check on anger and check out whether it’s valid.
Listen to these podcasts: 4 Q’s to Disarming Anger
and Talk Yourself Out of Anger!
See all of the Quick Tips for Managing Anger podcasts at: www.whatsgoodaboutanger.com/podcasts.xml

Here are some resources to teach you skills for managing your anger: What’s Good About Anger? .
_________________

© copyright 2020 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC, CAMS-V. Lynette is a Marriage and Family Counselor with CounselCare Connection and National Certified Counselor. She is the co-author of What’s Good About Anger? and a speaker for community, women’s and church organizations.

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Defusing Anger & Rage- dealing with COVID-19

Question:

I hate what is going on in the world today! The COVID-19 pandemic has me so scared about going outside…But I also feel enraged that my family and I have to endure this! This has caused so much stress in my life and now I may lose my job. I find myself feeling on edge and irritable all the time. I worry about how people will treat me and whether they will disregard my feelings. Of course, now I feel a sense of loneliness too.
I just hope that I’ll be able to control my rage cause my patience is wearing dangerously thin. When I snap there will be requiem to pay. Any suggestions for how to deal with this? Struggling

Answer:

Dear Struggling Friend, I wonder if you would be willing to start changing yourself? You can’t change this situation we are in with the pandemic and you can’t change others or the way they treat you. What about working on building your confidence, finding coping skills to deal with stress and finding ways for controlling your anger? Actually, concentrating on yourself and finding ways to adapt to this highly stressful situation will help defuse your anger.
I have met people who have taken this time of quarantine to study and get certifications or to connect with others virtually.
The pandemic is out of our control but you can follow the guidelines, pray and move forward in your life and relationships even with the restrictions. Don’t let fear control your mind and actions.

Maybe anticipating the What If ? questions which run through your mind and how people will treat you is triggering anger and anxiety prior to any stressful event occurring.

Triggers: We discuss two types of cognitive triggers (podcast) in the book: What’s Good About Anger?.

One is when a stressful event occurs which actually triggers your thinking and anger because someone has disappointed or frustrated you by what they have done or not done. The other is when you anticipate someone will disappoint or frustrate you or something will go wrong – that thinking is the real trigger for your angry feelings.

Expect disappointment but, don’t let it overwhelm you. Life and people will disappoint us and let us down. That’s a fact. Maybe you have suffered from some abuse or discrimination. But, you are valuable. You have talents and a unique personality and gifts. You have a God-given purpose for living! Because of these and other reasons – the difficulties imposed on us during the pandemic and the way people treat you should not control how you feel about yourself, your life or your emotional response.

It’s normal to react with anger when someone disrespects or humiliates you. But, how they treat you should not cause you to overreact, feel shameful about yourself or insignificant. It’s when you lose value in yourself that you will react angrily.

Don’t let anyone control how you respond. Think this way instead:
1. “I can’t be certain that I will be treated negatively – I should just give them the benefit of the doubt”
2. “Maybe they are having a bad day”
3. “This isn’t worth losing my cool over”
4. “I may deserve to be treated better but, I’m not going to let this person trigger my anger”
5. “I’m going to take a time out to think over how to respond and then, come back to this person”.
6. “I’ve got better things to deal with now”
7. “Don’t pass a judgment on them – he/she doesn’t understand what he/she’s doing”
8. “I’m going to let this one pass. It’s not worth getting angry over.”
9. How can I adapt to this crisis? What can I do to keep myself calm and manage stress? What skills can I build on? How can I communicate my needs more clearly with respect? How can I grow spiritually during this time? What can I do to connect with and help others during this time?

Rise above this crisis and any trigger or scenario by changing your thinking, developing your emotional intelligence, increasing your self-esteem, growing in your faith and anger management skills.


© copyright 2020 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC, CAMS-V; President, Anger Management Institute blog, podcasts and resources

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Flying Off the Handle with Anger…

Question: Hi, I have a problem. About every six to eight months I seem to fly off the handle. Every time my wife gets an order of protection against me to stay away from her and our 9 year old daughter. I break things in the house, throw things around. I never hit her or the daughter. About 5 months ago I started going to the shrink for help and he told me I have bipolar. but I dont think so, I think its anger or intermittent explosive diorder. I’m alittle better than I was. I used to go off on a lot of things. I dont know what to do anymore, I have to get better for me and everyone involved. please help. thanks  

Answer: Dear Friend, I suggest you schedule anger management coaching/counseling and resources. See also http://www.whatsgoodaboutanger.com/ for resources and articles which will help you deal with the anger.

Issues and Triggers:

Most likely, you have issues beneath the surface which need to be explored but, you also need to become aware of triggers and stressors precipitating your anger, new coping skills to manage anger, and what thinking patterns may be contributing to your anger.

Log some of the situations which recently caused you to feel angry and fly off the handle. What were the triggers? What happened and what were you thinking? Did you catastrophize the situation? Did you jump to false conclusions or personalize the situation? Were you stressed out by something else?

Distorted thinking and false beliefs such as: “I deserve to be treated…” or “I am entitled to…” contribute to anger escalation. If you can begin to control the hot self-talk and challenge your thinking with reality and truth – your angry emotions will defuse. Taking a Time-out is one of the best ways to control your anger.

Our resources teach various coping skills for managing anger.

Mental Health treatment: Since your psychiatrist thinks you have bipolar disorder – I suggest you follow his recommendations for counseling and medication. Bipolar disorder does have a chemical/physiological basis and needs to be treated as such. Also, counseling can help give you perspective on your life, help you express your feelings and teach to healthy ways to cope with anger.

Since you have abusive tendencies – I suggest you read and order some of the resources found at: Safe Relationships. Listen to the following podcasts on managing anger:

Is it Anger or Abuse?
How do you know when someone is just angry or is being abusive? Here are some insights to help you recognize anger and how abuse and battering are so different.
Click to listen  to:
Talk Yourself Out of Anger!
It’s hard to believe that what you say to yourself can actually trigger and escalate your anger! Learn how to defuse anger through some simple self-talk messages!
Click to listen

© copyright 2020 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC, CAMS-V

Certified Anger Management Specialist-V, Diplomate, Consultant Traiber with the National Anger Management Association. President, Anger Management Institute and CounselCare Connection, P.C.
Anger Management Institute site, blog, podcasts and resources

 

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Anger and Self-awareness

What makes you angry? Disrespect, loud noises, unfriendly, self-centered people, put-downs, rude behavior, people who break the rules? Anger is normal and it is an energy which can help you accomplish goals. But, if you can’t detect your anger in the early stages – you may find yourself over-reacting when something or someone triggers you.

Question:

A while ago I cut somebody off in traffic and this person was upset. This person pulled up beside me at the next traffic light and I apologized but this person wasn’t having it. They started swearing and threatening me and usually in the past I would get out and this person would be eating through a straw for the next month. I couldn’t help myself but to start getting angry and yelling comments back at this person. Eventually we just drove on. Any advice to help me keep control next time? Anon

Answer:

Maybe you are dealing with guilt and wishing you had handled the situation with a ‘cool head’. What if you had done something differently and had been more aware of your own anger and triggers?

How about writing out the road rage event and identifying what you were thinking. Most likely, you had “hot self-talk”. Hot self-talk will cause you to react more angrily than you normally would. Maybe you began saying to yourself- “I can’t let him/her disrespect and humiliate me that way!” “I’m going to tell him off!”, etc. It’s time to start thinking differently.

How about considering what is going on with that other person. Maybe he/she has a mental problem or has had a very stressful day. Maybe you could have counted to ten and just kept silent knowing that yelling was not going to help and actually could escalate the situation.  How about telling yourself that “this person isn’t going to get my goat.” or putting yourself in their shoes. There’s a reason they got so mad – that doesn’t mean it was justified or acceptable but, you did cut them off.

The problem is that you could have provoked that person more with your rage. Your outburst may have incited you (or him) to cause physical harm.

When someone gets that enraged- it’s best to back off for your own protection. He can’t think straight. You can’t think straight and you won’t solve the issue then. Road rage – any kind of rage – leads to violence. You don’t need to become one of it’s victims or end up in jail.

Write it out:
What physical feeling did I sense? (flushed face, knot in stomach, tense muscles, tightness in neck/chest, etc.) What I thought (hot self-talk) –
How I acted (unhealthy behavior)-
What else could I think instead (calming thoughts)-
How else could I have responded (healthy action)-

Then, try out the new calming thoughts and healthy action the next time you get angry or someone provokes you.. Write out the consequences. What happened afterward? How did affect you and others? This healthier response should work out better for you!

© copyright 2019 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC, CAMS-V. Lynette is a Marriage and Family Counselor with CounselCare Connection , National Certified Counselor, Certified Anger Management Specialist-V and Diplomate with the National Anger Management Association. She is the co-author of What’s Good About Anger? and a speaker for professional, community, women’s and church organizations.
CounselCare Connection, P.C. – Anger Management Institute
1200 Harper Road, Suite 602, Oak Brook, IL 60523
630-368-1880

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Is it Anger or Abuse?

People are often confused – wondering what the difference is between anger and abuse?  Anger can result in rage, put-downs and violent acts. Isn’t this kind of behavior the same as abuse? *You can listen to this Quick Tips for Managing Anger podcast here: Is it Anger or Abuse?

Let’s consider some definitions of anger:
We’ve described anger as an aversive state ranging from annoyance to rage. Anger is a strong feeling of displeasure & antagonism or indignation. It’s an automatic reaction to any real or imagined insult, frustration, or injustice.
When someone puts you down – your initial  feelings of humiliation are turned into anger –an emotional reaction needing to be expressed. So, anger is ultimately a combination of physiological, emotional and cognitive responses to certain triggers.

When you’re angry – you can be angry at anything – yourself, God, others, situations, events, unmet goals and needs.

In contrast, Domestic abuse generally occurs within intimate relationships. Here’s an example…

Hello I am a teen-ager, I have a boyfriend I have been with for 3 years and a 10 months old little boy by my boyfriend. I Love my boyfriend with all of my heart and I know people think that teens aren’t really in love when they think they are, but trust me this is love. but anyways he smokes dope and when we get into really bad arguments he hits on me, not like punching me he like – slaps me across the face burns me with his cigarette, bites me. I have tried to break up with him but it doesn’t do me any good because my parents let him come around. I am always wearing bruises, and am always depressed,…please help me ..I have nobody to talk to.

So, What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic abuse or violence is a pattern of physical and psychological abuse, threats, intimidation, isolation or economic coercion used by one person to exert power and control over another person in the context of a dating, family, or household relationship.
Domestic Abuse involves – battering:
Battering is a pattern of behavior which often uses the threat of or the use of violence. One person believes they are entitled to control another. Assault, battering and domestic violence are crimes.

In Why Men Batter Women – John Gottman and Neil Jacobson write:
“Battering is physical aggression with a purpose: that purpose is to control, intimidate, and subjugate another human being. Battering is always accompanied by emotional abuse, is often accompanied by injury, and is virtually always associated with fear and even terror on the part of the battered woman.”

Domestic Abuse and domestic  violence are never healthy and never helpful.

Conversely, anger is an emotion that can be expressed in healthy behaviors such as: assertiveness, problem-solving, negotiation, conflict management, empathy, etc.  So, you see that not all anger is wrong.
Anger is a problem: When it is too frequent, too intense, lasts too long, leads to aggression, disturbs work or relationships

Abuse is Always a problem. In fact, there is no excuse for abuse! Why? Because abuse seeks to denigrate, control or destroy another person.

Here’s another real-life story of abuse: “my friend needs help to get away from her husband he already been put away in jail but as soon as he got out it starts all over again. She has an order of protection and the police told her because she has been seen with him they will get the department of family services involved because there are children involved. This man has threatened to kill her and has done many violent things and will go after the children. She really does not know what to do he is extremely dangerous everyone knows what going on but we don’t know how to help.

Here are the 3 types of Domestic abuse:

Physical Battering – The abuser’s physical attacks or aggressive behavior can range from bruising to murder. It often begins with what is excused as trivial contacts which escalate into more frequent and serious attacks.

Sexual Abuse – Physical attack by the abuser is often accompanied by, or  culminates in, sexual violence wherein the woman is forced to have sexual   intercourse with her abuser or take part in unwanted sexual activity.

Psychological Battering -The abuser’s psychological or mental violence can include constant verbal abuse, harassment, excessive possessiveness, isolating the woman from friends and family, deprivation of physical and economic  resources, and destruction of personal property.

Statistics demonstrate that Battering escalates. It often begins with behaviors like threats, name calling, violence in her presence (such as punching a fist through a wall), and/or damage to objects or pets. It  may escalate to restraining, pushing, slapping, and/or pinching. The battering may include punching, kicking, biting, sexual assault, tripping, throwing. Finally, it may become  life-threatening with serious behaviors such as choking, breaking bones, or the use of  weapons.” Resource: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

In describing the reasons that Men Batter Women – Gottman and Jacobson write:

Studies have demonstrated that the batterer begins and continues his behavior because violence is an effective method for gaining and keeping control over the victim bringing no adverse effects as the result of the behavior.

What are some characteristics of batterers? Typically, since batterers are men – they objectify and don’t  see women as people. They don’t respect women as a group. Overall, they see women as property or sexual objects.
A batterer has low self-esteem and feels powerless and ineffective in the world. He may appear successful, but inside he feels inadequate.
A batterer externalizes the causes of his behavior. He blames his violence on circumstances such as stress, his partner’s behavior, a “bad day,” alcohol or other factors. A batterer may be pleasant and charming between periods of violence, and is often seen as a “nice guy” to outsiders.
Some behavioral warning signs of a potential batterer include extreme jealousy, possessiveness, a bad temper, unpredictability, cruelty to animals and verbal abusiveness.
Because of these characteristics authorities believe that true batterer will benefit more from a Batterers Intervention Program than an. anger management program.
Though some of the goals of domestic abuse and AM programs are similar such as: accepting responsibility for consequences and applying behavioral changes—  BIP focus on changing the batterer’s power/control mindset – networking with law enforcement to help provide for the safety of victims.
Visit http://www.saferelationships.net/ and http://www.compassionpower.com/ for more information on abuse and anger management issues.
If you are in an abusive relationship contact the National Domestic Violence Agency at : 1-800-799-7233 or ndvh.org for resources.

Visit the Anger Management Institute for books, resources, podcasts, blogs, DVDs, certificate and trainer courses.
© copyright 2019 by Lynette Hoy, Licensed Clinical Professional  Counselor, National Certified Counselor, Certified Anger Management Specialist-V with NAMA and President of the Anger Management Institute.

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Chronic Anger Syndrome…

Question:

I’ve been reading the Chronic anger symptoms and found a lot of identical things that often happens to me. Lately I’ve been in a real storm with my parents and some other people where slight problems often caused me to just go out of control and just hurl whatever words came out from my mind. Lately it’s all about my trip overseas where I got 2 weeks to go and things just doesn’t go smoothly. Just tonight, I found out that the people who promised me free accommodation didn’t deliver so that started another chain of arguments and worse. By the way I took aim at my mum a lot again and those people who I haven’t even met. So my venting’s just out of the world again. My dad told me I’m just egoistical & self centered. My mum told me I might got the attitude from my biological father since she kept saying that my blood are tied to him stronger as I am his first son. I didn’t really buy it though especially after I read about “Chronic anger” syndrome can you confirm that I actually got that or is it just my attitude needs fixing? I keep thinking it’s sort of unnatural but I can’t confirm it since I never seen a psychologist or whatnot. I can use some positive reassurance. Thanks

Other signs and symptoms frequently associated with the principal symptom of chronic anger are:
* impatience
* constant hurrying
* speaking in a harsh, abrupt manner
* egotistical and self-centered behavior
* inability to relax readily
* high blood pressure
* inability to play or enjoy vacations
* verbal aggressiveness
* free-floating hostility

——————————————————————————–
Answer:
Dear Friend, so far “chronic anger” is not a psychiatric diagnosis. And the symptoms you list above could be associated with various mental health disorders. Anger – unhealthy/harmful anger – symptoms can be associated with disorders such as intermittent explosive disorder, ADHD or depression or bipolar disorder or a personality disorder.

You may be dealing with a mental health problem and this should be assessed by a professional. In any case, I believe attitude and behavior patterns play an important role in escalating anger and these factors can be changed!

Take this anger survey to see how serious your anger is. It sounds like you are motivated to manage your anger because anger is affecting your relationships and life detrimentally. You can learn skills and strategies which will help you cope with anger in healthy ways such as:
1. managing your stress,
2. identifying triggers and provoking situations, changing self-talk and any cognitive distortions,
3. communicating assertively and empathically,
4. applying forgiveness

Listen to these free podcasts: 4 Q’s to Disarming Anger and Anger Management Made Easy! These will help you discover tools to cope with stress and anger in healthy and effective ways.

Visit the Anger Management  Institute for books, resources, podcasts, blogs, DVDs, certificate and trainer courses.
© copyright 2019 by Lynette Hoy, Marriage and Family Counselor, National Certified Counselor, President of the Anger Management Institute and author of all books and resources.

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The Results of Hidden Anger… July 7, 2019

Question:
When we talk about anger, I always remember a few situations, and wonder – did I do wrong or good? In every situation, I am trying to stay calm and after that what happens with the anger? I think it is somewhere deep in side of me, and there must be some valve for all my anger. How will that impact my life?

Answer:
Dear Friend, Maybe you are really asking: Has my anger and response to provoking situations been helpful? What happens to the anger when I don’t express it? How does it affect my life?

Pent-up Anger: It sounds like you try to remain calm which is helpful in containing conflict and angry outbursts – but, your anger remains hidden. Hidden anger can grow and result in bitterness and depression or eventually there may be an outburst of anger over something small because you have been holding it in.
Is it good to keep your anger unexpressed? I don’t believe so.

Anger Expressed: I think anger is meant to be expressed in healthy ways through assertive communication and problem-solving. If you can’t talk with the person directly who you are angry with – then, it is helpful to express your anger to a confidante or counselor. You can explore ways to express it directly or decide to let it go.

Ultimately, when you don’t express anger – you will be affected by it. Anger is an emotion which results from feelings of fear, frustration, hurt and loss of control. The emotional valve within will explode when these feelings are not dealt with. You need to make changes so you can deal with your emotions and the issues. Working through anger using healthy coping skills will bring a sense of peace and confidence to your life.

Order the book: What’s Good About Anger? to learn more about these skills and how faith can help defuse your anger.

© copyright 2019 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC. Lynette is a Marriage and Family Counselor with CounselCare Connection and National Certified Counselor. She is the co-author of What’s Good About Anger? and a speaker for community, women’s and church organizations. She is a Certified Anger Management Specialist-V, Diplomate, Consultant, Trainer with the National Anger Management Association.

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