In the previous section we discussed self-awareness as a step toward a healthy response to anger. In fact, we have introduced you to you several ways to manage, or “cope” with your anger and conflicts. What is coping? This section will look at coping. Why is it important? Why are some coping mechanisms healthy? Why are some not healthy? Let’s explore.
The Good, the Bad, the Unhealthy
Coping means you have effectively dealt with, tolerated, or managed something. In terms of anger management, it means you have dealt with your anger in some way.
Although we have discussed these before in different sections, it is important to fully recognize unhealthy coping skills. It’s important to be as much aware of the unhealthy as it is to know healthy alternatives.
Unhealthy coping skills can be as follows::
- Drinking or taking drugs to deal with anger
- Reacting aggressively or violently
- Thinking and/or voicing judgmental, criticizing thoughts
- Blaming others or avoiding responsibility
- Harming yourself or getting into fights with others
- Denying your anger to yourself
- Intentionally hurting another’s feelings or verbally attacking another person’s being or sense of self
- Making passive aggressive statements about someone
- Twisting your reality, changing and/or limiting the way you see a situation or the world. You may do this through unhelpful thinking patterns such as, thinking in overly generalized thoughts, using all or nothing thinking, maintaining a negative focus, or rooting your anger in opinions not facts
Healthy coping skills:
- Acknowledging and accepting your anger and your situation
- Using physical exercise or activity
- Doing something creative, such as writing, playing an instrument, or drawing
- Talking to a friend, loved one or even seeking the help of a therapist
- Using abdominal and deep breathing to relax your body, help your body recognize that it is safe, and to bring yourself firmly into the present moment, not thinking about the past or future
- Checking in with yourself to see what needs are going unmet and then working to meet them peacefully and respectfully
- Using positive self-talk
- Reminding yourself you are the one in control of yourself
Keeping these things in the front of your mind will help you succeed. We recommend you come back to this section when you may be struggling with identifying a coping strategy for a situation.
Create your own list of unhealthy and healthy coping skills that you have utilized in the past. Next find a healthy alternative for each unhealthy coping skill. Star the healthy coping skills that are most effective for you.
Practice using the healthy coping skills you starred. Track your anger and rate it. In the upcoming days, write down a few instances when you have used a healthy coping skill. Why did you choose the one you did? How did it work? How did you feel after?