We often see headlines about careers derailed because of an angry outburst. The inability to control your anger and being quick to angry both put important areas of your life at risk. Managing personal risk is a key ingredient in a successful, happy life. A person who is quick to anger, or uncontrolled when angry, risks losing a career they’ve spent decades building, relationships that give their life meaning, and severe damage to their reputation.
Fortunately, being quick to anger or losing control when angry isn’t a life sentence. There are highly effective skills you can learn that give you greater control over how you feel and how you express your emotions.
What is Anger Management Training?
Anger management training involves developing skills that give you increased control over your emotions. When you can control how you respond to situations or people, even when they are not the way you want them to be, you feel more in control of your life.
Anger management training can involve Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that helps you see situations from multiple perspectives. It can also involve learning skills that help you relax or pause before you respond to something that is upsetting or frightening.
Anger management training is often sought after a court has ordered the person to get help but the skills learned in anger management training help everyone. Pause for a moment and think about people you know who did things they would not have done if they had been in control of their anger.
One instance that always comes to my mind is when the Detroit Lions coach threw a flag during the Thanksgiving Day game because he was upset with the referee. The mistake cost him the game and his job. The next year, he was a defensive coordinator with the Buffalo Bills instead of a head coach. Not all angry explosions play out on national television but the impact of not being in control of emotions harms relationships and careers every day.
How can Anger Management Training Help?
The surface reason that anger becomes problematic for a specific person is because they develop a habit of responding in an angry way. Humans are smart. We have the ability to control our thoughts, words, and actions but only if we know how to do it. If we don’t take the time to decide what to do, our response will be automatic and reflect the habits we’ve developed. The habit of being easily angered can be changed.
When we dig below the surface, there three common reasons that people develop the habit of becoming angry. Those reasons are:
✅ They believe other people think the same way they do about the situation so it’s difficult to imagine other valid perspectives for someone else’s actions or words and it is easy to assume the other person’s intentions are bad.
✅ They do not have skills that allow them to pause before they respond to a situation.
✅ Influential people in their life modeled angry behavior when misunderstandings or disagreements occurred.
Learning anger management skills and psychological flexibility helps individuals respond to disagreements in ways that build strong relationships.
Why is Anger Management Important?
Uncontrolled anger can lead to behaviors we regret. When we look at the effect of uncontrolled anger on large numbers of people, possessing the ability to manage anger in healthy ways is often the one factor that makes a difference between being free or in prison, being married or divorced, having the ability to see our children or termination of parental rights, and being employed or unemployed. The ability to regulate emotions in a healthy way makes big differences in the way someone’s life progresses.
Do I have to Attend Classes?
If I don’t have the time or money for anger management training, what can I do?
Anger is an indicator that you are highly stressed. Stress exists along a continuum. The less stress you experience, the further you tend to be away from exploding. Less stress does not mean you have to have an easy life. Less stress means you have to develop emotion regulation and stress management skills.
The identical situation can seem like climbing Mr. Rushmore or a speedbump in a school zone. The difference is because of the stress management skills the individual possesses. If your skills are up to the task, even a difficult situation can feel easy to resolve.
Although the book title refers to mental health, chronic stress is the precursor to both mental and physical health issues and the strategies in Mental Health Made Easy: Maintain and Restore Your Mental Health: Develop Healthy Habits of Thought, The Smart Way™ to Permanently Reduce Stress, help individuals gain control over anger and other emotions.
Most importantly, the revised definition of the purpose and use of emotions that was published in 2007 facilitates a method of do-it-yourself cognitive behavioral therapy that is highly effective in calming stress and reducing angry outbursts.
As a single mom with a stressful career, there were times I would lock myself in my room to avoid angry outbursts at my children. After learning these strategies, I haven’t had an angry outburst in many years. My automatic emotional response is healthier and yours can be, too.