Anger, in itself, is not a problem. In fact, it’s one of the basic human emotions that we all experience, along with joy, fear, and sadness. According to the American Psychological Association, it can even be perceived as a good thing in many cases. Healthy anger helps us express ourselves, find solutions to problems, and can lead to changes for the better.
As with many emotions, however, there is a dark side to anger. Excessive anger can lead to physical issues like high blood pressure. It can destroy relationships and cause harm to loved ones. It can damage your social life and create conflicts at work. When does this normal human emotion cross the line – and become an issue that requires anger counseling?
1. You experience a lot of “all or nothing” thoughts
One of the ways to tell if your anger has become a problem is to analyze your cognitive behaviors. This can take time, but it boils down to understand what you’re feeling in a given moment. People with anger issues often experience their emotions in an “all or nothing” or overly dramatized way. The next time you feel anger coming on, try to pay attention to the following thoughts, feelings, or expressions:
- Nobody understands me
- Everybody is against me
- She always does this to me on purpose
- I’ll never be able to recover from this setback
If you’re having thoughts like this, where you’re thinking in absolutes like nobody, everybody, always, and never, it’s possible that you’re experiencing some out-of-control anger. These types of thoughts could indicate that your anger is characterized by irrational, dramatic thoughts that are out of touch with the reality of a situation.
2. You’re angry all the time
While it’s normal to experience anger, it could be a sign of an issue if you’re feeling angry all of the time. If you’re worried that you have anger issues, try to take stock of the physical symptoms of your anger, which can include an increased heart rate, flushing in your face and neck.
Is this happening every day? Multiple times a day? We all experience mild irritations every single day, but if you find that you’re feeling extreme rage every single morning as you sit in traffic – then the frequency of the feeling could indicate an anger issue.
3. It’s impacting your work or social life
Do you find that certain friends no longer want to socialize? Do you often find yourself in difficult or tense situations at work? Have you lost jobs or friends because you’ve lashed out at people in anger or frustration? Sometimes anger issues can escalate slowly, with the result that you hardly even notice that your relationships have been suffering.
Take stock of your relationships with friends, family, and work. If anger is impacting your ability to maintain relationships and keep a job, then it may be getting out of control.
Although it’s important to maintain control over your own mental health and emotions, sometimes the people around you can recognize the signs of an escalating issue before you do. If a loved one tries to talk to you about your anger and suggests that you get help, it’s important to take stock of what’s going on in your life. Have you been lashing out more than usual? Have you been losing control? It’s important to listen to friends and family who may have concerns.
4. You’re hurting others or yourself (or thinking about doing so)
No matter how angry you become, it’s never acceptable to harm yourself or others. If you find yourself ruminating on the idea of hurting yourself or the other people in your life, you may need to seek help. And it’s not only physical harm. If you’re frequently putting yourself or other people down, you may be veering into the territory of mental or emotional abuse.
When your anger leads you to violent thoughts, it’s time to seek help for your anger issues.
5. Your anger is intense or explosive
Maybe you don’t feel angry all of the time. Maybe it’s rare, but when it does happen, it’s explosive and extremely intense. Ask yourself these questions. If the answer to any of these is yes, it may be time to seek some professional help to get your emotions under control.
- When you get angry, do you damage property by throwing or punching things?
- Do you “black out” while angry and have difficulty remembering what happened?
- Do you feel completely overwhelmed, anxious, or powerless due to your rage?
- Does your anger often cause you to seek out substances like alcohol or drugs?
When you can’t find an adequate outlet for your anger, or it feels so “big” that it’s out of your control, it means it might be time learn some positive ways of expressing a normal human emotion in a healthy way.
It’s normal to feel angry now and again. Frustration and irritation are aspects of our everyday lives. But if you’re finding that your anger is lasting too long, resulting in harm to yourself or others, taking over your life, and ruining your relationships, it’s time to seek help. Ask yourself, “Do I have anger issues?” And if the answer is yes, look into receiving anger counseling. If you’re ready to take control of your anger and emotions and work on positive coping mechanisms, contact us today at Real Life Counseling.