Stop, Collaborate, and Listen (Continued)
Step 1: STOP!
Stop what you’re doing. Simple, right? Not really. But it is the first and important step I like to speak to my clients about who have been identified (by themselves or others) as angry.
So, when I say stop, the thing I am mostly referring to, is the behaviors we all tend to participate in that tend to increase our anger rather than minimize it. These are things such as clenching our jaws, clinching our fists, yelling, calling names, cussing, hitting things, pacing, speeding (if you happen to be in the car, experiencing road rage), ruminating, etc. It all depends on who you are and what your behaviors are. It has been thought in the past that “releasing” anger can diminish it, but research has shown that the opposite can be true. The more you allow yourself to engage in these “angry behaviors” the more they serve to increase the anger and the longer it takes for a person to come down from the anger. For someone who has no issues with anger, sure, screaming to get it out may work. For someone who cannot control their anger, this is not true.
So, what are the benefits of stopping? Obviously, there are many. It allows you to calm down quicker. Furthermore, it keeps you from hurting someone else verbally and/or physically. It allows you to be present with your anger and not let it take control over you.
So, the first step of stopping these behaviors? Figure out what your behaviors are. Learn to recognize the physical signs in your body. Does your heart race? Do you get light headed? Do you feel yourself leave your body? Is it too late by then? If so, go back further. What are your triggers to anger? What are the primary, very first signs you are headed for trouble? Is it getting too little sleep? Is it jealousy? Is it insecurity? What is underneath the anger? What precedes it? Being aware of these things in the beginning of your anger, can help you to stop the further behaviors that exacerbate it. Example: You only get 3 hours of sleep. You know that this causes you to have a short fuse and anything can set you off during the day. Remind yourself of that. Don’t yell at people in traffic. If you feel yourself going down that road, remind yourself, STOP. Take a breath. Keep going. Do this throughout the day. If you are at work and you know that there is a certain person who pushes your buttons, and you tend to pace before you see them. Don’t pace. Don’t see them if you don’t have to. Remind yourself: STOP! Take some deep breaths, remember you can be in control of the anger.
In sessions, I go over these things with my clients in great detail. Once we get their triggers and behaviors figured out, then we start to talk about past experiences and how those situations could have gone differently. This is a time for the client to take responsibility for their part, not the opportunity to blame others for what they may have done. Where in those examples could the client have stopped? Once that is exhausted, then we can move on to Collaboration. Stay tuned for my next blog covering that topic. We will talk about how you can collaborate with the people in your life to make changes and what they can do to help manage their emotions as well.
If you, or someone you know may have an issue with anger, please contact Texas Relationship Therapy and make an appointment today!
Written by: Kisha Kloster, MS, LMFT-Associate, LPC-Intern, CST-Candidate, CART