How to Test and Improve Your Anger Management Skills


Anger can take many forms, such as a fleeting period of rage or a long violent fight, for two examples. But while it’s often a natural emotion to feel, what matters most is how you manage while it bubbles. Use introspection to test your anger management skills (when you are do not in the heat of the moment, that is) can allow you a healthy awareness of yourself regarding your common anger tendencies and triggers. Once they’re on your radar, you’ll be better equipped to proactively spot and quell the feeling whenever it inevitably arises.

And “inevitable” is the key word in anger, because everyone is bound to experience it at one time or another. “Any excessive negative feeling – fear, distress, shame, rejection – will likely trigger anger,” psychotherapist Alison Stone, LCSW, previously told Well + Good. That said, emotion is not inherently negative and can serve a key psychological purpose. “It helps you recognize when you’re being abused,” says clinical psychologist Aimee Daramus, PsyD, author of Understanding Bipolar Disorder. “If you don’t allow yourself to feel anger, people will walk all over you and the anger can later turn into depression, anxiety or even psychosomatic pain.”

For this reason, effective anger management is not about ignoring or pushing anger away, but rather about experiencing it, accepting that it is a normal human emotion, and thinking about what you want to say. or do in response with conscious intent, says Dr. Daramus.

How to test your anger management skills

The extent to which you take any of the above healthy anger management actions when confronted with the emotion certainly depends on your mood, the situation that caused the anger, and a variety of other things. external factors. Even so, some people also have better basic anger management skills than others, and as a result, tend to adopt effective conflict and disappointment management techniques more often than not.

To test your own anger management skills, you can start with a simple self-assessment like this in 10 questions of psychology today. (If your level of anger puts you or others at risk, seeking professional help rather than introspective self-treatment is the best course of action.)

This test offers a set of scenarios that would typically cause feelings of anger and asks you to rate how angry you would hypothetically feel in each of them using a six-point scale ranging from “I don’t feel all angry” to “I feel furious. Based on your responses to the 10 situations, it then aggregates an “anger score” on a scale of 0 to 100. While a score of “0” would likely reflect a high degree of denial, again it is normal to experience some anger sometimes– and a score of “100” would imply a complete lack of anger coping tactics, exactly where you fall in between can provide some insight into your relative anger management skills.

“You want to allow yourself to feel anger when someone hurts you or crosses boundaries, but you also want to be responsible for your anger, not letting it be responsible for you.” —Aimee Daramus, Doctor of Psychology

“It’s ideal if your result is somewhere near the middle of this scale,” says Dr. Daramus. “You want to allow yourself to feel anger when someone hurts you or goes beyond your limits, but you also want to be responsible for your anger, instead of letting it be responsible for you.”

Although this type of anger management test is not clinical or diagnostic in nature, it can offer insight by prompting healthy self-reflection. “It allows the candidate to consider incidents that might possibly make them angry or explore things that might happen to them while reading questions they might not otherwise have considered,” says therapist Nya B, LPC. However, to get an accurate test result, you need to be as honest with yourself as possible when considering each hypothetical scenario, which can be difficult to do, especially if you’re someone who lives or holds back a lot. lingering anger or resentment.

“At first, a lot of people actually underestimate the depth of their anger,” says psychologist Robert Enright, PhD, co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute and author of The Forgiving Life. “It may be because they fear deep anger or they use the psychological defense of denial to hide some of their anger.” As a result, they are likely to respond inaccurately to the hypothetical irritating scenarios in the test above. “It’s so easy to keep denying and saying to yourself, ‘Of course, I would never get too angry under these conditions,'” he says.

For this reason, he suggests consulting family members or friends to test your anger management rather than relying solely on more subjective self-report. “Ask a loved one to rate your anger on a scale of 1 to 10 each time you get angry or upset,” he suggests. “Once you have their answer [for a few different times when you were angry]talking about the discrepancy between their number and the number you might give yourself can help reduce any amount of denial, especially if you are aware of or can develop a potential solution to that anger, such as showing forgiveness.

How to Identify Strong Emotional Coping Skills in Action

Having a clear picture of the effectiveness of anger management can also give you an idea of ​​how your skills are stacking up in this area. “A person who manages anger well will take deep breaths during conflict, use self-talk as a distraction, create a buffer of calm – perhaps by keeping a stress ball or putty handy – and intentionally avoid people or places that trigger them,” explains Nya B.

If a tense situation escalates, strong anger management skills can also include walking away and splashing cold water on your face, listening to music, or taking a break for a few minutes with a meditation app to calm down, adds Dr. Daramus.

Once the person is less heated, an effective anger manager will also acknowledge their feelings about the situation, while creating space and time for the anger to cool down. “They usually use words to separate themselves from the emotion, instead of owning it,” says Nya B. “Rather than saying ‘I’m pissed’, for example, they would say, ‘I feel pissed’ . “, creating a distance between them and the emotion, instead of keeping it as part of their identity.”

From there, people with strong anger management skills also tend to use “I” statements to express what makes them angry, avoid overly shifting blame, and let go of expectations that someone else is. another agrees with their point of view. And all of these trends you can research yourself, to better understand how you could improve your anger management skills, whenever you need to.

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