Anger, in itself, is neither good nor bad. Anger can motivate us to solve a problem, leave a bad situation, or stand up for others. However, if you let your anger control you, it may lead to some terrible outcomes. You may say things you can’t take back or end up hurting yourself or others. Anger can alienate you from your friends and family–people whose support you need if you want to overcome addiction. Bottled up anger can lead to resentment or depression and set you on the road to relapse. Bottling up emotions is an early sign that something is wrong in your recovery. If you’re recovering from addiction and are having anger issues, here are some suggestions for dealing with your anger constructively.
The first thing is to learn to pause before you do anything. It’s hard to act skillfully in the heat of the moment but most people can refrain from doing anything for a while. When you feel your blood starting to boil, remind yourself that anything you say or do in that state of mind is likely to be counterproductive. You’re not giving up your right to ever tell someone off or retaliate; you’re just acknowledging that you need some time to think about your options before you act.
Take a Few Deep Breaths
Most people can’t just decide to calm down. In fact, trying to tell yourself to stop being angry when you’re extremely angry usually makes things worse. Instead of trying to stifle what you’re feeling, use your physiology. Taking slow, deep breaths with a long exhale activates your body’s parasympathetic nervous system, or the “rest and digest” system. Parasympathetic activation inhibits the sympathetic, or “fight or flight” system, that drives anger.
Consider Your Assumptions
Usually, when we get angry, there are hidden assumptions at work and often those assumptions revolve around other people’s intentions toward us. For example, say you’re walking down the street and someone bumps into you hard. You may be angry because you assume the other person is being rude, careless, or even aggressive. However, then you discover that the person has collapsed, possibly having a heart attack or other medical issue. Your assessment of the situation immediately changes and you are no longer angry. In reality, most of the things other people do to anger us have nothing to do with us, but we’re rarely in a position to find that out. When someone makes you angry, take a moment to at least consider other options besides someone trying to get you.
In your relationships, it’s often worth the effort to sort out these kinds of understandings. Communication is key. Don’t try to talk things over when you’re still angry but rather wait until you’ve calmed down and had a chance to think things over. When you do talk to the other person, confine yourself to the present situation rather than bringing in past incidents or generalizing, such as “You always do this.” It’s best to refrain from accusing or criticizing. Focus on your own reactions with statements like, “When you said that, I felt like you were criticizing me personally,” and so on. This way, you can prevent lasting resentment and improve your communication in the future.
Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon uses cutting-edge techniques in individualized programs to help men achieve freedom from addiction. 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