In moments of frustration, hurt, and disappointment, anger often seems like the most easily accessible and highly charged emotion.
Can you recall times when your anger got the better of you? It happens to all of us.
The problem is, when acting on anger, we tend to do and say things we regret later.
Here are five strategies you can try to diffuse your anger in the moment and ensure you aren't apologizing for embarrassing behavior later:
Breathe. Breathing has the powerful ability to reset your system. It can create a quick shift in your emotional state and attitude. Often we don’t notice our breath because it is an automatic process. When we hone in on our breathe and take slow deep breaths that fill our entire lungs to our belly, we are focusing our attention and practicing what is called diaphragmatic breathing. Try this,
Take a deep breath through your nose. Let the air go all the way through your lungs until you can feel and see your belly rise. A good rule of thumb is a 5-6 second breathe in. When your lungs are full hold this breath for 3-5 seconds. Finally, release this breath slowly through your mouth. It helps to use pursed lips. Think duck face.
Be aware. Sometimes anger can be built up inside and caused by multiple situations. It’s best to try to keep your frustrations separate from one another to avoid explosion. This is easier said than done, but through awareness you can reconnect with the underlying emotions that may be leading to your anger. Try to reflect on your situation and observe your surroundings.
What are the reasons behind your anger? Is there anything in your immediate environment that you can do or change to lessen the anger? What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? Engage your senses and increase your awareness.
Use guided imagery. Guided imagery is a technique often used in meditation but it can be used in everyday life at any given moment. You can use guided imagery by closing your eyes, using deep breathing strategies and then thinking of some place where you feel the happiest or someplace you might feel happiness. Try to picture that place in your mind, paying close attention to the nuanced details.
What is it like there? What do you see, smell and hear? If you were to be in that place, what would you be feeling? Can you elicit that feeling now? Is it peaceful, calming, serene, refreshing? Do you feel relaxed? Do you feel happy?
Staying with a positive image for as little as 2-3 minutes can shift the information processing systems of your brain, thus diffusing your anger.
Talk or write it out. If you are able to talk your frustrations out with a friend or a partner, do it! Even talking to a furry friend can be helpful. Talking through your thoughts out loud can help you see the situation through a different lens. If you are unable to talk it out or are uncomfortable doing it, try writing down your thoughts on a piece of paper or in a journal. You can even destroy that paper afterwards.
Work it out. Exercising increases endorphins and decreases stress. Endorphins are your body's natural calming mechanism. When moments of frustration take over and anger is intense, take it to the mat instead of taking it out on those you love.
These are a few techniques for diffusing your anger. If you are noticing that your anger is causing harm in your life on a regular basis and you are unable to successfully diffuse your anger on your own, it may be beneficial to seek out help from a professional therapist.
Blog post by:
Kristin Free, LCSW
Wyntur Henderson, BA
Seriously though, why would anyone go to therapy?
I am always amazed at how strong people are. Seeking support through troubling times with a stranger is one of the most vulnerable situations anyone could put themselves in. Yet, time and time again, people show up.
Because when it really comes down to it, we all long to feel connected, to be seen, to be validated. Connection is one of the most basic human needs. And in our most vulnerable places, connection is what brings meaning and purpose to our lives. Finding a therapist you connect with, who can provide a space free of judgement, where true exploration can occur, may truly set you free.
Brene Brown is a famous Social Worker and researcher. She has studied vulnerability and shame extensively. This is one of her most famous quotes,
"Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose, or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path."
Getting vulnerable with a therapist is scary for sure and it can lead to great clarity and facilitate healing. The process of therapy with a supportive counselor is really more about the concept of developing self-awareness than anything else. It's a process of self-discovery, identifying and healing wounds and creating momentum to move forward in a way the feels true to the core of who you really are. It is a process of learning to connect to your SELF, learning to LOVE your SELF.
And yes, you will be vulnerable. And it may even be painful at times. This is why therapist have to go through such extensive training and education. When you can be vulnerable in your self exploration with a well trained affirming therapist who can help you discover what has you stuck, healing and growth can emerge. You can begin to cultivate the life you really want, the life you have always dreamed of.
It should be noted that healing through the therapeutic alliance is not a guarantee. We cannot say definitively that therapy works for everyone. But research has shown it to be effective for a lot of people.
We also cannot say that just because therapy did not work one time with a certain therapist, it won't work with someone else. Finding a therapist that fits for you, is like finding a hairdresser who does your hair just the way you want it. It can take time. That's why most therapist invite people to call for a free consultation. That gives you the chance to ask questions and get a feel for how they work with clients. It also gives the therapist the opportunity to decide if they can actually help you within the scope of their competence and that's the most important part.
If you are truly suffering and long to feel better, therapy is worth a try!
We all deserve to have the ability to create a life we truly love! We are all in this together!
A Client Centered approach is a cornerstone to Social Work. This theoretical framework was developed by Carl Rogers, an American Psychologist. Rogers considered all aspects of a persons unique way of experiencing the environment in which they live. He thought that the individual should be viewed as unique because each of us experiences our environment in a completely different and very subjective way. In this way we can begin to understand human behavior in the context of the environment which allows us to move from the concept of 'mental illness' towards a place that respects the uniqueness of each individual. We avoid pathologizing the person and focus on the underlying causes for the dysfunction as it relates to the clients environment, self-concept and self-construct.
A Client Centered approach to treatment, places the client at the center and the client is considered the expert of their own life. There is a significant focus on the development of the therapeutic alliance, which is a collaboration between the therapist and the client. The client and the therapist work together to explore the disharmony as it relates to the feelings and the experiences of the client within their environment. In other words, the focus is on how the individual views their problem in relationship to the systems (the environment) in which they live.
Rogers believed that people are motivated to move towards healing and growth and that is where this framework was born from. He recognized that the function of human motivation was to help us to reach our full potential. He believed that because humans are intrinsically motivated to heal and grow, internal disharmony occurs when there is incongruence between feelings and experience or expression of emotions and action. This disharmony would then generate emotional and behavioral problems and is what will often lead people to seek assistance.
What does a client centered therapist do?
A client centered therapist will focus on the therapeutic alliance and work to collaborate with a client. The therapist will establish an atmosphere where clients feel empowered to explore all the possible solutions to their problems by providing unconditional positive regard and therapy that is free of shame, judgement or doubt. The client will play an active role in their recovery, feeling free to explore all possible solutions and options for overcoming the problem or problems they face. This can lead to a great deal of growth and healing.
I hope this helped you to understand a little more about how I approach this work and what makes Social Work unique. If you feel like the way I approach my work may be a good fit for you, I invite you to give me call.
I am Kristin Free, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I write the articles in this blog. They are articles intended to offer information, encouragement and inspiration in the area of whole body health and wellness. If you would like to contact me to see how I might be able to support you in your journey towards wellness, please visit my home page. If any of these articles have inspired you or touched your heart in any way, then I can say I have accomplished what I set out to do. I welcome your feedback and I hope you enjoy.