When Someone You Know...
…has a Problem with Anger
Is Anger a Problem?
Anger is an emotion experienced by everyone. Anger is not, in and of itself, a problem. The way anger is expressed might be a problem, either for the person who is angry, or for the person who witnesses the anger. If a person....
- has difficulty controlling anger
- uses alcohol or other drugs to cope with angry feelings
- has physically attacked or restrained someone as a result of anger
- notices that there are physical costs to anger, such as decreased sleep, increased blood pressure, or an increase in tension
- has lost relationships due to angry outbursts
- is known by others as having a short fuse and is avoided because of this,
...then anger is a problem. It is not only a problem for the person experiencing anger, but for the person or persons affected by witnessing uncontrolled anger. When a person's anger endangers someone else, the other person might be in a situation where he or she is being abused.*
* See the Counseling Center Brochure on
Domestic Violence and Abusive Relationships
What are Some Signs of Anger?
There are many signs of anger, some are physical, others behavioral, and still others are emotional. It is not unusual to think that anger comes on suddenly and with no warning. Often, though, there are indicators of anger that show up early, and if they are recognized and addressed, can prevent an angry outburst.
|Dizziness or Headache||Feeling Violated||Yelling or Pacing|
|Increased Heart Rate||Feeling that Life is Unfair||Losing Sense of Humor|
|Clinched Fists||Feeling Resentful||Using Sarcasm|
|Sweatiness||Feeling Anxious||Wanting to Drink or Use|
|Increased Blood Pressure||Feeling Numb||Pushing or Shoving Others|
|Tightness in Throat||Feeling like Running Away||Destroying Property|
Ways to Deal with Anger
Over time, anger can become an ingrained way of reacting to the world. If anger is experienced daily, it is important to identify some of the signs of anger and to begin to notice triggers, or potential triggers, that can increase anger. To do this, some of the following tips may be helpful:
Notice Any Negative Self-Talk that increases anger. Often, when a person gets angry, it is not about what happened, but is is about what the person tells him or herself about what happened that increases anger and leads to angry outbursts. This self-talk often includes messages to yourself that are hurtful and directed inward, such as, "I can't believe I said that. I am so stupid!", "I just can't do anything right , I won't ever get this done." When noticing these messages, it is important to not judge, but to take some time to look at the messages and counter the thinking that increases the negativity.
Identify the Signs of Anger before anger becomes a problem. When signs of anger are present, practice some of the calming techniques introduced later.
Notice the Level of Anger. On a scale of 0-10, with 0 being no evidence of anger and 10 total rage, monitor anger levels throughout the day. If anger increases start to use calming techniques.
Begin to Keep an Anger Log. When anger starts to feel overwhelming, make note of the level of anger, the incident that caused the increase in anger, and the negative messages that are present. Take some time to develop alternatives to the negative messages and practice self-care. Over time, patterns may emerge that can help identifying triggers for anger as well as effective self-care techniques to decrease anger.
Ask Yourself What is Really Bothering You. Anger is often referred to as a "secondary emotion". This means that, for whatever reason, underneath the anger is another emotion that is unexpressed and difficult to acknowledge. Take some time to figure out what is at the heart of the anger. Is there something else, some other feeling such as despair, grief, disappointment, regret, or jealousy that is really the issue? If another feeling is present, take time to address that feeling and the anger level will likely decrease.
Visit or call the Edmonds CC Counseling & Resource Center for short-term counseling with a professional counselor, who can listen, offer feedback, and provide referral to resources.
- Take time to breathe. This is not the kind of breathing that is done from the neck up, but a DEEP BREATH, one that comes in slowly, and reaches down to the belly. Exhale slowly, and inhale slowly, too.
- Remove yourself from the situation. Take some time for self-care. If you return to the situation and find you are still angry, leave again.
- Do something physical such as walking around the block, exercising at the gym, running, or gardening.
- Ask yourself how much this situation will matter in 10 years.
- Use a mantra that will help in situations where anger might be triggered, use short phrases such as "breathe", or "relax".
- Meditate, pray, relax, take time for yourself.
Care Crisis Line
|Snohomish County Care Crisis Line:||425.258.HELP (4357) or 1.800.584.3578|
|(24-hour telephone crisis counseling; interpreters available)|
|King County Crisis Line:||206.461.3222 or 1.800.244.5767|