Unraveling the Anger: Understanding and Managing Uncontrollable Anger

If you find yourself in situations where you experience uncontrollable anger, you are not alone. Anger as a basic instinct is a protective factor from danger and distress, but understanding its roots can make anger and other complex emotions easier to manage.

Although anger is a normal emotion for people to experience, if you find yourself always feeling angry, or uncontrollably angry, you may benefit from some psychoeducation about managing anger with the help of a therapist. Many people benefit from extra, professional support to address and manage their anger and learn positive coping skills such as breathing exercises, mindfulness, self-compassion and self-awareness.

Why do I feel uncontrollable anger?

Dealing with uncontrollable anger can feel overwhelming, but with a better understanding of triggers and causes, there is hope for positive change. Uncontrollable anger can affect everyone and anyone, but can be especially challenging for teenagers, men and new moms.

Dealing with angry teens

Teenage years are a crucial time for development. Teenagers are faced with hormone changes as well as identity development and finding independence. All these facets can contribute to uncontrollable anger. Teens are synonymous with bad attitudes, eye rolling and door slamming. There are a lot of changes happening during the teenage years which can feel overwhelming and scary. Anger can often be a means of deflecting, hiding or coping with all these emotions.

Experiencing anger as a new mom

New moms are in a similar situation with hormonal imbalances and significant life changes. A new mother’s identity changes with her new role and this can wreak havoc on typical emotional regulation. In fact, anger in new mom’s is so common that clinicians have developed a diagnosis of postnatal rage to be better able to diagnose and treat this issue.

Men, anger & suppressed emotions

Men can be especially sensitive to uncontrollable anger for different reasons. Stigma plays a large factor in men’s mental health and seeking help for emotional issues, such as uncontrollable anger. Traditional masculinity and social behavioral norms also sometimes encourage dominance and stoicism in men, making it normal via gender roles/expectations to display anger and less normalized to talk about anger, and potential underlying mental health issues.

Am I dealing with anger in a helpful way?

Fury, rage, wrath… these are all scary synonyms for a very normal and common emotion. Anger is a necessary and important feeling to experience. It can be a motivating force, protective intuition, or compelling reasoning. Still, anger’s influence over our lives can impact relationships, friendships, and many other aspects of our daily lives. It’s important to check in with yourself and ask, “Am I dealing with anger in a helpful way?”

There are three main ways to control anger: expressing, suppressing and calming. Expressing anger can be tricky, as it requires fine tuned communication skills to be assertive, not aggressive and to accurately communicate your feelings without them being clouded by the anger.

Suppressing anger requires us not to act on the impulse of anger, but to suppress it long enough to think through a better way to channel that anger in productive, not potentially destructive ways. This can be done through learning cognitive restructuring: an evidence-based concept that teaches problem solving skills and replaces angry thoughts with more balanced, rational thoughts. The situation does not change, but your reaction does.

The third main way to effectively control anger is through calming techniques. Calming is useful especially for uncontrollable anger, because a lot of calming techniques are rooted in mindfulness and grounding, thus promoting emotional regulation. An example of this is when people count to 10 before responding, in hopes of simmering their anger.

How to Manage Anger with Coping Skills

Utilizing positive coping skills based in evidence-based interventions are an effective way to control and redirect uncontrollable anger. Techniques to control anger can be taught by clinicians who are familiar with emotions and behaviors and utilized anytime, anywhere.

  1. Controlled breathing

As the name suggests, breathing techniques are simple ways we can feel more in control of our bodies and emotions. Try “belly breathing,” or breathing with a hand on your stomach, trying to inflate your stomach as you inhale. This is an effective method for slowing the heart rate and decreasing blood pressure, having an instant calming effect.

  1. Take a lap

Or engage in any kind of physical activity to physically and emotionally remove yourself from the situation or anger trigger. Whether it is a walk if you are at work or school, or going to the gym, blowing off some steam is a great way to burn off anger.

  1. Visualization

Go to a happy place in your mind. Visualize a stress-free and calming environment. Studies show that picturing or looking at things that bring us joy has full body calming effects. This is a trick to temporarily escape anger, giving the intensity some time to simmer.

If you experience uncontrollable anger, you are not alone and there is support available to you. Connect with a professional in your area to discuss your unique situation in a safe, caring environment and learn other, personalized coping skills to be happier and more in control of your anger.

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