Rage: A Step-by-Step Guide to Overcoming Explosive Anger

Category: Anger Management
Author: Ronald Potter-Efron MSW PhD
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by napjerks   2019-08-24

There are books like Rage that are a very direct approach. And your local library probably has a copy of Anger Management for Dummies you can borrow for free. They may have other books too right next to it on the shelf.

One of the best things you can do is to keep a journal on anxiety for the next couple weeks. Just write today's date and anything that is bothering, you. Start with phrases like "My boss is really pissing me off" or "I keep saying mean things to my friends" and then add some detail. Especially the order things happen. "I was already in a bad mood, they said this, then I said this and then I was out of control". Whatever it is, a couple times a day. Backtracking along that timeline helps figure out where we could possibly do something different next time. Like picking a good point to table the conversation. "Hey, let's talk about this again after lunch, or tomorrow." Whenever you feel you can talk about it again with a cool head. If no one else is involved, stand up, get a glass of water, go to another room, flip through a magazine, stare out the window, go for a walk. These are simple things that give you time to cool off. The anger techniques work if we know why we're doing them.

Anger is a buildup of other emotions. That's why they call anger a secondary emotion, because seemingly less important feelings cause it to build up. So noticing any strong negative emotions you're getting throughout the day helps address them and gradually defuse the anger. It helps to put a name to what you are feeling. Saying things like, "This is what overwhelmed feels like." acknowledges the feeling and gives it its own time. Just for a minute or two recognize it and let it be there for a minute. That's what helps identify the feelings that have become hidden to us but are turning into anger. Giving them their time softens the anger and lessens the buildup.

Sometimes we have just build up a bunch of habits that don't work well so we just need to let them rest and pick up better techniques. For the next two weeks work on active listening. It's basically a way to listen until a person is finished talking, instead of only hearing a few words and already interrupting them with snarky comebacks. Let them finish talking and then if you didn't completely understand anything, ask sincere questions. That's it. It's surprisingly effective because if we listen to understand, the other person usually is much less aggressive in their responses too. So it's mutually beneficial. Practicing this for about two weeks is enough to make it a pretty good habit.

Also, being assertive about how you feel sooner in a conversation. We've all bottled things up and then blow up because we didn't even express ourselves. So try a phrase like, "When you say ___ it makes me feel _____." Use it like a broken record. It has endless uses in discussions about work, home life, family conversations. Just repeat and repeat this phrase. Be explicit about how you feel and say things earlier than you normally would. That way we aren't waiting too long and our emotions are already getting fiery before we even talk about the real thing that's bothering us.

There's an online course for a $10 registration. All their courses are free actually, after registering.

You can bring your anger down without having to rehash your entire life. A lot of it is just how we've become conditioned to overreact. Not that you shouldn't work on those things too. But if the anger is a problem, focus on it directly for about three months and see how much progress you can make.

The way we talk to ourselves is an indicator of how angry we are on a regular basis. Negative self talk is a huge indicator of anger. So is being passive aggressive. With awareness of this, just start writing what makes you angry out on your notebook. You don't have to write a lot, just use bullet points or short sentences. It is good for sleep too, writing down what is rolling around in your head. It gets it out on paper and you won't forget it. It will still be there to address in the morning. But you deserve good sleep because it's easier to deal with tomorrow if you've gotten decent rest. Hope some of this helps. Hang in there!

by napjerks   2019-08-24

Why did you originally start seeing the therapist? Just addressing the anger here, it is something you can focus on for two or three months and make pretty good headway on. Either taking a class or reading a book and keeping a journal goes a long way.

Are your siblings adopted too? You have a lot of tension with your relationship with them. Have you talked about this with your therapist?

In-state schools are simply cheaper. With a big family, the cost of college is a huge burden. You've probably seen how much student debt recent graduates have, even from mediocre universities. So try not to be too hard on your parents about it. They're saving you from crushing debt which can be a huge mental burden so it's best avoided. If you have no debt you're mobile. Do your best in college and when you graduate you can take any job anywhere and move at a moment's notice. That's real freedom.

> I’m always so passive but I just get so angry.

It took me a long time to associate not communicating - holding everything in and never complaining - with being angry all the time. Pushing things down and trying to ignore them, pretending like they're not problems is a huge source of anger. Because then it's in us like a poison. Talking about what bothers you with people actually helps. So we just have to learn how to address it the right way. Active listening is a communication technique that helps with it. Listening to truly understand the other person and to fully explain yourself actually reduces anger because you're sharing what your needs really are, both yours and the other person's.

Resentment, bitterness, indignation, shame are all terrible emotions but they're also honest. They are feelings that help us figure out how we are interpreting what is happening in our life. They give us important information. But we don't want to throw the best parts of our lives away because we are over-reacting to things we are taking personally. I hope you are able to talk with your therapist directly about all of the things you posted here. Consider printing your words out and bringing it with you to your next session. Keep it in a notebook and use it to record difficult things you're working through and the therapist's advice.

The real work happens between sessions. The therapy visits are just to get advice. How should I approach this situation? How do I deal with dinner nights with my parents? Then the real work is practicing with the techniques the therapist gives you. When you see the therapist again, report back on what happened, how things went. Record enough notes to help you remember how things are going. That's all you have to write. They will then help you adjust the techniques you're using and talk through scenarios that haven't gone so well so you can try another approach.

Sometimes the antidote to a strong negative feeling is just looking up what the opposite emotion of it is. The opposite of resentment is gratitude. When you feel resentment, let it be there. Say out loud "this is what resentment feels like." It's ok to have that feeling. Then take a moment and see if there's anything you could possibly have gratitude for. Both resentment and gratitude have their place in our daily lives, we're human. They're paying for college. You don't have to work while you're studying. That's a huge advantage over other students who may take five or six years to finish because they have to work and pay as they go. Cut yourself some slack. Give yourself room to breathe. Continue to be honest. You are right to share and ask for help. Keep talking about it. Be especially kind to yourself and everyone around you while you're figuring out how to deal. Hang in there.

by OhSirrah   2019-08-24

Have you seen a doctor about your depression? Anger and depression are often talked about together, and in RAGE, which is sounds like you’ve read (if not you should link below) the author explains how these can feed into each other. Be advised, New York City and London are some of the most expensive places in the world to live, so if you are not a citizen of their respective countries, it will be hard for you to live and work there. https://www.amazon.com/Rage-Step-Step-Overcoming-Explosive/dp/1572244623/ref=nodl_)

by napjerks   2019-07-21

Take a class, read a book find a therapist who specializes in anger management.

by napjerks   2019-07-21

Get yourself to the ER or 24 hour clinic for your hand. You’ll have plenty of time to ponder things once the cast is on. Walk around to bring your energy back down but just take care of yourself right now. For later: Rage.

by napjerks   2019-07-21

You can still work on the anger directly though. Sorry, I didn't mean to make you feel like you're on your own. Therapy can just be a roundabout way of getting help if the therapist isn't specifically trained in anger management. But books like Rage directly address anger and how not to "blow up".

Or take an online anger class for just $5 at Open Path, probably the most economical option out there. I haven't taken it yet so I can't say anything about it but there are other classes online that look very similar and cost $100 and up. Help is available if you need it.

I think three months of focused anger management study and practice can take most of us further than we might think. It can feel like it's firmly entrenched but we just have to drop what's not working and pick up some new techniques. It's a little trial and effort. We have relapses because we can't predict everything we're going to react negatively to. So as my tech friends like to say, it's a iterative process. But it's worth focusing on directly. Anyway, wish you the best.

by napjerks   2019-07-21

Have you ever been in therapy or prescribed meds in the past?

There are a lot of books like Rage that have techniques for dealing with anger that seems to go from 0 to 100 quickly. If you decide to go see your school counselor or a therapist for help you do NOT have to take any meds if you don't want to. "Talk therapy" alone can help a lot with anger issues. You can give it a few months for the techniques they teach to sink in. Be especially patient and kind with yourself and others while you're figuring it out.

It sounds like you're under a lot of pressure to do well in school. Sometimes when people are telling us what to do all the time and how to do it we can feel even more pressure. You're not a bad person for trying to live up to their standards but for whatever reason you're struggling. What are you studying btw?

> i cant even bring myself to do my schoolwork

What's happening with your schoolwork? Distractions? Anxiety? What's preventing you from getting to it? There are various approaches you can use if you feel trapped.

> my anxiety is all out of wack and some nights i cant even sleep or focus on work

Grab a fresh journal or any notebook you already have. Before you go to sleep at night write down what is bothering you or just any thoughts you have that have been continuously running around in your head. Get them on paper. That way you can still remember them, they'll be there the next day. But they're out of your head and into the notebook. This helps your head quiet down at night. You don't have to write a lot, just the major points. You don't even have to do it every day. Try it for a week straight and see if it helps. Just use that journal for this purpose. Keep it on your desk or nightstand close to the bed with a good a pen.

Protect your sleep like gold. If you stay up late or don't get enough sleep you'll already be in a bad mood the following morning. It helps to read a book or magazine as the last thing you read at night too. Staring at a cellphone screen keeps your eyes buzzing with blue light. That blue light messes with our circadian rhythm. So looking at text on paper is better. Hope some of this helps. Hang in there!

Edit: I should just add that if you're a gamer, it can be a huge source of stress that only gets worse if not addressed. A lot of people post on here asking for advice with gaming related anger.

by napjerks   2019-07-21

I’m sorry for what you’re going through. You’re not a terrible person. Remind yourself these kinds of events aren’t the end of the world. Things happen and they can be difficult to deal with. You only need to find the right approach. Consider having a conversation with his brother directly and with your boyfriend present.

Can you share the circumstances of the hitting incident? Maybe we can offer more specific advice.

In the meantime there are articles like When You Love an Angry Person that help with suggestions you can make to your boyfriend for when you get mad. And you can read Rage on your own to help work on your anger.

But the abuse you suffered needs addressing too. I hope you can get therapy for it.