Anger management

Feeling angry now and then is a normal part of life. Usually, anger is a result of feeling frustrated, insulted, deceived or even under attack. For many, anger is a natural reaction that passes quickly. In some instances, however, it can become a difficult emotion to control.

Failing to manage anger effectively can lead to mental and physical health problems. You may find your anger management issues are affecting your relationships, your work or even your self-esteem.

On this page, we'll look at anger management in more detail and offer tips on how to deal with anger. We'll also explore how hypnotherapy for anger can help.

Angry man

When does anger become a problem?

Anger can be a useful emotion that triggers a physical reaction in the body. This reaction is called 'fight or flight' and it normally happens when we are stressed or threatened. Adrenaline is pumped around the body, making you feel tense and ready to 'fight' the threat, or flee.

The problem here is that fighting or running away isn't usually an appropriate option. This can make it difficult for us to express anger, and this is where some people develop a problem.

When you aren't able to express your anger, you may bottle it up. This can cause angry outbursts at inappropriate times. It may also make you feel angrier in general, leading you to react more aggressively in other situations.

If you don't learn how to deal with anger, it can lead to physical and mental health problems. The way you express anger may be different from the way someone else expresses anger. Some unhelpful ways you may have learned to express anger include:

  • outward aggression and violence (for example, hitting/throwing things, shouting, being threatening towards others)
  • inward aggression (for example, speaking to yourself badly, denying yourself basic needs, self-harming)
  • non-violent or passive aggression (for example, not talking to people, doing things poorly on purpose, being sarcastic)

These ways of dealing with anger may help you feel better in the moment but, in the long-term, they will hurt your relationship with yourself and others.

Effects of anger

Anger can manifest in many ways, both physically and mentally. Here are some of the ways you might notice anger affecting you:

  • tense muscles
  • shaking
  • feeling hot
  • tight feeling in the chest
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • feeling unable to relax
  • irritable
  • feeling guilty

It can be helpful for you to note the way anger affects you so you can recognise your red flags. Gaining awareness of this and your triggers is the first step to managing your anger.   

Why am I so angry?

Everyone will have their own anger triggers. It could be that you feel you are being treated unfairly, or you may simply be frustrated. For many people, a sense of powerlessness can lead to frustration and anger.

To understand why you are angry, it can be helpful to look at your past experiences. Some people's backgrounds and upbringing can influence how they cope with anger. It may be that your parents were overly angry and violent when you were younger, so you were brought up to believe this behaviour is normal.

Alternatively, you may have grown up seeing anger as a scary emotion. This can make you feel frightened or unable to express it. Whatever the circumstance may be, understanding the root of your anger is an important step in anger management.

angry storm

Anger issues can have a wide variety of causes and each person will have individual reasons for their rage. Previous experiences of hurt, bereavement or despair, or difficult environments can bring about the onset of anger difficulties. All of these anger triggers can be readily helped using hypnotherapeutic strategies.

- Read ‘Forgive and forget - seeing red - how hypnosis can help manage anger issues’ by  hypnotherapist Anne Morrison, MBSCH

Do I need help with anger management?

Recognising that you have a problem with anger management can be difficult. You may think being angry is just the way you are, or you may not recognise your symptoms as anger related.

If the following has happened, you may benefit from professional anger management help:

  • Your behaviour has led you to break the law.
  • You are violent towards your partner, family or other people.
  • You deliberately break things or damage property.
  • You regularly argue with those close to you.
  • You feel angry constantly but feel unable to express yourself.
  • You feel out of control when you are angry and are worried about what you might do.

In terms of getting help, there are various approaches you could try including dedicated programmes, talking therapies and anger management hypnotherapy.

Anger management courses often help groups of people at a time. The aim of these courses is to offer alternative ways of dealing with anger. They often teach self-help techniques and relaxation exercises.

Talking therapies like counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy normally take place one-on-one. These approaches will try to help you understand the cause of your anger. The ultimate goal is to help you change your behaviour.

Hypnotherapy is an increasingly popular therapy option for those looking to change their behaviour. Anger management hypnotherapy, in particular, can help establish the underlying source of anger before changing unhelpful thought patterns.

Hypnotherapy for anger

Hypnotherapy can help those with anger management problems in several ways. The initial aim of the hypnotherapist will be to understand the root cause of your anger.

As previously mentioned, anger management problems often stem from past experiences. These experiences can shape your behaviour and belief system. So, while you may think another person or situation is causing your anger, it may well come from yourself. Once this is understood, your hypnotherapist can begin work changing this.

To do so, your hypnotherapist will work on a conscious and unconscious level to help change your negative thought processes. Doing this may involve relaxation techniques and suggestions from your hypnotherapist to help control your anger.

The hope is that this will change your reaction to anger triggers. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and angry, you should feel calmer and more relaxed. Feeling calmer in stressful situations helps you to think more clearly so you can react in a more appropriate way.

woman dealing with anger

When you are relaxed and feeling safe your hypnotherapist will guide you to reflect on your triggers. One by one you will be asked to identify the physical sensations associated with your triggers. You will be asked to examine the feelings, not to chase them away but to ‘watch them’ and then let them dissolve one by one. In this way, you will become to understand that these feelings need not take over.

- Read ‘Does hypnosis work for anger management?’ by hypnotherapist Biodun Ogunyemi ANLP, BNLP, SNLP, C.H, Dip.Hyp

Anger management hypnotherapy can also help with some of the symptoms of anger. For example, if you are suffering from anxiety, stress or depression, hypnotherapy can be helpful.

The number of anger management hypnotherapy sessions you'll need will depend on your individual circumstances. It is likely that your hypnotherapist will teach you some self-hypnosis techniques and relaxation tips. You can use these at home when you feel angry or stressed to help you control your anger in the long-term.

Use our search tool to find a hypnotherapist who can help with anger management.

How to deal with anger - self-help tips

If you have decided to seek professional help for your anger management problem, there are several things you can do in tandem to help regain control. The following tips can help you control your anger and express it in a healthy way.

Get to know your triggers

Understanding what situations make you feel angry is key. By recognising when you are likely to feel angry, you can be prepared. To do this, start taking notes when you feel angry. Try to note the following:

  • What was the situation?
  • Was there another person involved?
  • What did they say/do to make you feel angry?
  • How did you feel at the time?
  • How did you behave?
  • How did you feel after the incident?

After a while, you should start to notice some patterns emerging. Perhaps you get angry when you feel belittled, or maybe you feel angrier after the situation because you couldn't express yourself at the time.

Talk through your notes with your hypnotherapist, as this can help them work with you to understand the underlying reason behind your anger. Just recognising these patterns can be an enormous help.

Give yourself some time

A simple way to help you manage your anger when a trigger situation arises is to give yourself some time before you react. This allows you to really think about how you react, rather than reacting instinctively. Try the following suggestions to see if they help:

  • Take some deep breaths - breathing out for longer than you breathe in can help to calm you.
  • Count to 10 - a simple act that can give you enough time to calm yourself before you react.
  • Do something else - instead of reacting, try to distract yourself by doing something else. If you can, try to channel that energy into something creative.
  • Listen to calming music/sounds - create a calming playlist and listen to it when you start to feel angry.

Try a few different distraction techniques and see what works best for you. Again, this is something you can discuss with your hypnotherapist as they may have some alternative suggestions.

School of Life explore the possibility that anger is triggered by underlying optimism.

Try some relaxation techniques

Stress and anger tend to go hand in hand. Many people find reducing their stress levels helps them to keep their anger under control. Relaxation techniques challenge the physical aspects of stress and anger. This can help you refrain from lashing out or behaving violently when you get angry.

Try some of the following techniques when you are feeling stressed:

  • meditation
  • visualisation
  • yoga
  • breathing exercises

One of the ways hypnotherapy for anger can help is by triggering the body's relaxation response. During a hypnotherapy session, you will fall into a deeply relaxed state. It is at this point that the hypnotherapist offers suggestions to help control your anger.

Be assertive

As we have mentioned previously, being unable to express anger can lead to anger management issues. To help you express your opinions, it can help to learn how to be assertive. Being assertive allows you to tell people your opinions in a healthier way. Try the following tips for being more assertive:

  • When you feel angry, tell people and explain why.
  • When you do this, speak slowly and clearly.
  • Use phrases like "I think" and "I feel" to put the focus on you rather than them.
  • Try to make requests instead of demands or threats.
  • Say "I might" and "I could" instead of "I should" or "I must".

Having the ability to express yourself in this way should stop you from bottling up your emotions. This can be especially helpful to those who feel persistently angry.

Plan difficult conversations

If you know you have to have a difficult conversation that may make you feel angry, try to plan ahead. Make some notes about what you want to say using the assertive tips mentioned above. Plan some relaxation/distraction techniques if you think you may react quickly.

Sticking to your notes about what you want to say will help you stay in control. It will also help prevent you from getting side-tracked. If you can, talk to your hypnotherapist about the upcoming situation as they can advise you further.

Look at your lifestyle

Your diet and lifestyle can impact your body's stress levels. This can have a significant effect on your anger levels, so is worth considering. A healthy, balanced diet can give you more energy and help you feel more upbeat.

Exercise is well known for reducing stress and can be an integral part of anger management. As well as boosting your mood, exercise promotes sleep and relaxation. This can be really helpful during your anger management treatment. If you don't exercise already, speak to your doctor about what exercises you can try.

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