2007-01-18 / Other News

COUNSELING CORNER

Don't Let Your Temper Get The Best Of You

We don't plan to be angry, it just happens. For most of us, fortunately, anger isn't a major problem. However, if your anger, even if only occasionally, is something that makes you strike out and react violently, it's an unhealthy and dangerous behavior that needs attention.

Not only can uncontrolled anger to fights, it can truly disrupt a life. Teenager anger might lead to expulsion from school, and adult anger can result in job loss, marriage problems, alienation from children, and sometimes jail.

Anger usually stems from believing that something is "unfair" and believing that you "can't stand it" when things are unfair. Such beliefs can be so deep-seated that you react immediately when something happens, not stopping to think about the consequences of your actions. The result is usually an unhealthy situation and an undesired outcome.

Time is one of the most important factors in controlling anger. Every second that passes between when something becomes "unfair" and when you react greatly increases the chances that you will make a wiser, healthier decision.

Of course, taking time to think rather than simply reacting is easier said than done. What can help are simple techniques to slow you down. The easiest is just taking a deep breath. Because anger comes from your thoughts of unfairness, any thought you use to replace those thoughts will help. Simply reminding yourself to take a deep breath as you begin to feel anger is such a distraction.

A more detailed breathing response is a method called "square breathing." You inhale slowly for a count of five, hold that breath for another five count, and then exhale slowly. Do this repeatedly until you feel less angry and more in control of your thoughts. It's also a time to think about the choices you have and what the consequences of each might be.

Doing anything that makes you stop and think, rather than just reacting and striking out, is essential to anger control.

You may find that deep breathing and getting friends to warn you when you appear to be getting angry are techniques that don't work for you, then seek professional help. A counseling professional can offer many approaches toward helping you get your anger safely under control.

"The Counseling Corner" is provided as a public service by the American Counseling Association, the nation's largest organization of counseling professionals. Learn more about the counseling profession at the ACA Web site, www.counseling.org.

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