Q: I am not an angry person by nature; however, I have been deeply affected by certain circumstances, mostly beyond my control. This has created and festered anger which seeps into other aspects of my life. Sometimes I say things I later regret. I don’t want this to consume me. Can you offer any suggestions?
A:Here are 10 ideas for you to consider.
1. Identify what is behind your anger. Is it embarrassment, hurt, shame, unmet needs, feeling devalued, insecure or other emotions? Take time to sit quietly and journal what made you angry and why it made you angry to get to the root of the irritation.
2. When you feel pressure building – take a time out – give yourself and others space to cool down. Not as a punishment or silent treatment, but a chance to think more objectively. Go for a walk, play your favorite music – channel the energy into a constructive calming activity.
3. Express your anger assertively in a concise, non-controlling way, clearly stating what you want. Be careful not to hurt others or be manipulative by what you say or the way you say it.
4. Pause and think before you speak. Damage has already been done, so let your words move towards healing and resolution, not adding negativity or sarcasm to the already existing problem.
5. Instead of wasting your inner strength thinking about what made you mad, brainstorm ways to resolve the issue.
6. Forgive. Holding onto the injustices that have been done will enslave you to bitterness. Free your soul by letting go of the wrongs, redeeming the injustices by making something good come from it all.
7. Learn from the pain and help others. Is this teaching you to be or do something differently? Can you develop empathy for others who shared in similar circumstances and use what you have learned from your wounds to ease others’ pain? Look for opportunities to get outside of your own head and reach out to share with others and encourage them.
8. Align with your faith for spiritual restoration, a renewed focus on love, and emotional uplifting.
9. Avoid blaming, as it keeps you stuck. By taking responsibility for your feelings and for yourself, you gain control over what you can control – you!
10. Finally, don’t suffer alone, talk with a professional who can be an objective guide to help you understand and work through your anger to a place of inner peace.
Disclaimer: Responses to questions are not to be construed as receiving, and are not a substitute for, psychological services, or treatment.
Questions to Sophie is a new question and answer column addressing reflections on work, family, friendship and personal issues. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to The Hamburg Item office. Please submit by the editorial deadline.
The column is by Suzanne Kline, a practicing psychologist born and raised in the Hamburg Area.