Anger Management & Mental HealthHannah Hippe
The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Andrew Mackey, LICSW, Outpatient Therapist.
Anger gets a bad reputation, but anger by itself is a completely normal emotion. Getting angry is part of the human experience, and you shouldn’t let it go unexpressed. However, it’s when that anger starts to take control of your life that it becomes an issue.
Andrew Mackey, Outpatient Therapist at Nystrom & Associates, has been working with clients on anger management for the past five years. He highlights the importance of anger:
“I always express to clients that if they take nothing else from the anger management curriculum take away that the emotion of anger is not a bad thing. We need to feel anger to be healthy. It is what we do with that anger that makes anger problematic. The emotion is not the problem. It’s the behavior of anger that is the problem.”
That behavior can lead to the disruption of your relationships and your mental health.
Related: A Fixed vs. Growth Mindset
When Anger Becomes An Issue
Anger can develop in several ways including outwardly, inwardly, and passively. Outward anger is typically the first that comes to mind. This is when anger is expressed in an obvious way by threatening others and becoming physically or verbally abusive. Inward anger is when you’re mad at yourself. Your anger becomes internalized and is expressed as negative self-talk or denying yourself certain things. Lastly, passive anger is expressed through behavior like sulking, being sarcastic, and giving the silent treatment.
Anger becomes detrimental to your mental health when it negatively affects your life and those closest to you. Some signs that anger has become a problem include:
- You are aggressive physically and verbally
- You recall what you did or said when you were angry with regret
- Your anger feels out of control and occurs frequently
- Your relationships are impacted by your anger
In addition to recognizing when anger is becoming a problem, it’s important to keep in mind that anger can be managed through various strategies.
Related: How to Build Your Self-Esteem
Practice Patience & Empathy
One key strategy in anger management is to practice patience and empathy. It sounds simple. Just be patient, right? But being patient is a skill. And learning to empathize by putting yourself in another’s place is another knack that can defeat hostility. Fortunately, those skills can be learned and developed. Mackey notes:
“Anger’s biggest adversary is empathy. Patience is a close second. Empathy and patience require us to recognize that anger is what we are feeling in that moment. But we empathize with ourselves that we do not wish to feel angry. Even more so, we empathize with others who may or may not need to “deal” with us and our anger reaction. But if we acknowledge the anger and do not act on that emotion, no one can say we are in the wrong because no one can tell us we are wrong for the way we feel and being able to manage that emotion.”
In other words, having the patience to observe your anger, sit with it, and give yourself some grace is a positive blueprint to deal with anger at the moment it occurs. In therapy, you can learn to manage big emotions without them turning into rage.
A Word From Nystrom & Associates
If managing your anger is getting out of control or having a negative impact on your life, seek the help of a mental health professional. A qualified therapist can walk you through creating an individualized Anger Control Plan that will help you develop long-term solutions to manage your anger. They can also help determine if your anger is the symptom of an underlying mental health condition. Call 1-844-NYSTROM or request an appointment here.