Part 2: Anger Awareness
Have you received feedback from your romantic partner, co-workers, friends, roommates, or family members about your reactions to certain situations? Were you surprised by their comments? You know yourself better than anyone, right? Well, because you are accustomed to your own behaviors it may be difficult to identify when your reactions are "too angry”. It can be difficult to hear, but listening to what others are telling you about your behavior could be helpful in learning about your reactions.
You can change!
The good news is that no one but yourself causes you to react in an angry manner. You are in control of how you respond to situations, and no one else! It is easy to blame others for how you react to particular situations because they frustrate you. It is also common to hear people indicate that they were mad or angry because of something that happened. Just because something bad or disappointing happened does not mean that an angry reaction is warranted.
Coming to terms with the fact that you need to change your behavior can be one of the hardest parts of managing your anger. We can become conscious of ourselves through developing self-awareness. Self-awareness is the ability to be aware of your own self. This can be more difficult than it sounds, especially when attempting to make yourself aware of angry experiences in the moment. Using a journal can be a very effective way to self-analyze. Many times we respond to certain situations without fully understanding and analyzing what we are doing. Becoming more self-aware requires desire and concentration. You must force yourself to think things through in detail rather than simply letting things happen.
The third-party perspective.
When one has reached the ultimate level of self-awareness, one is able to view things not only from their own perspective but also from the potential perspective of others. An individual would be able to place themselves in someone else’s shoes and understand how what they are doing is seen and interpreted by others. Sometimes this can be very difficult to do if we are experiencing intense or difficult emotions like anger.
Awareness & decisions.
It seems like common sense that if you are unaware of what’s happening around you and how you are responding, then things will just happen automatically. The automatic response to anger is aggressive behavior. You can change this by becoming more aware of your thoughts. Concentrate on becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings and you can change how you decide to respond. Taking some deep breaths really helps to self-soothe when experiencing intense anger. Remember that how you respond to situations is up to you. The more you are aware of yourself and your feelings, the better decisions you will likely make.
Remember: Experiencing angry feelings is not the problem, it’s how you choose to respond to that anger that can be the problem. Only you are in control and responsible for how you react to these feelings. If the intensity of your anger is becoming unmanageable, take a break and separate from the situation until you can calm down and think clearly.
Awareness of physical cues. Becoming aware of angry feelings is only part of the equation. Your body will give you signs that you are beginning to become angry. Below are some examples of these signals:
Becoming Tense: you may feel your body stiffen or tighten up Sweating: you may begin either slightly or profusely releasing sweat Headache: you may develop a minor or major headache Heart Rate: your heart rate may increase noticeably Feeling Flush: you may feel light-headed or dizzy
These and other physical symptoms may give you cues that angry feelings are beginning to build and help you become even more aware of yourself.