Surprise! You’re Angry

Surprise! You’re Angry

In mental health by Tree House Recovery

Whether you have a literal or figurative “happy place,” count yourself lucky. It’s that kind of peaceful distance we get from life’s problems that help us find tranquility during tough situations. Everyone should have one of those spaces in their life—especially those of us in recovery.

And hey, maybe you’re a pretty laid back person already. You don’t NEED a happy place because you live inside it all the time. But what happens when you’re going about your day, nothing to worry about on your plate, and you might be surrounded by people you love. 

Then it happens. The stealth anger can be brought about by anything: running late, the face your spouse made at a particular comment, a noisy neighbor. These kinds of things happen all the time. Nonetheless, those in recovery (particularly those who have experienced prolonged trauma) can use these everyday annoyances as a springboard for a deeper, more serious and ingrained anger to emerge.

Often, that can have catastrophic consequences. The time between the action and our reaction shortens to milliseconds, and before we can control ourselves, we are lashing out. What we fail to realize so many times is that our sobriety is part of an overall wellness strategy that should include emotional work to continue uncovering and mending the hurts in our lives that contributed to addiction-seeking behaviors.

Nicholas Roes, Ph.D., outlines these skills for anger management in the moment:

“Depending on the severity of the problem, certain approaches are more likely to be helpful than others. For less deeply troubled clients, there are four relatively simple ways to decrease arousal:

  • First, count to 10. Or 110. This simple and time-tested practice really helps. The more time a client buys by postponing anger, the more likely he/she will act rationally rather than emotionally.
  • Second, relaxation techniques are often helpful: deep breathing, listening to soothing music, taking a hot bath, etc. These actions calm the physical sensations associated with anger.
  • Third, distraction (thinking about something else) also can help. As our thoughts turn to another topic, there are fewer thoughts to feed our anger.
  • Finally, do something incompatible with anger. Kiss your spouse, or pet your dog. These types of activities can help displace anger with more agreeable emotions.”


Find your happy—and sober—place. Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon uses cutting-edge techniques in individualized programs to help men achieve freedom from addiction and triggering behaviors. Taking a holistic, sustainable approach to the inner and outer effects of addiction ensures you or your loved one will emerge with the confidence and skills to manage your addiction independently. No one is beyond help; our Admissions Counselors are available 24/7 at (503) 850-2474