How to Use Self-Awareness as an Anger Management Tool
Anger is a natural emotion. In and of itself, anger is not a “negative emotion” or “bad reaction.” In fact, anger can fuel positive change.
But if you’ve been feeling like your anger is out of control lately—first, you’re not alone; the ongoing stresses of the pandemic have shortened everyone’s fuse—the good news is that you can learn to manage your anger appropriately. Research shows that increasing your self-awareness can help manage anger.
What is Self-Awareness?
Self-awareness refers to the degree to which you understand your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. It's the knowledge that people are different from each other and understanding how those differences affect us emotionally. Studies have found that more self-aware individuals experience fewer negative emotional reactions and fewer emotional consequences than those who aren’t as aware.
How Can Self-Awareness Help Manage My Anger?
Let’s use road rage as an illustration. In the U.S., recent data shows that 2021 is on track to become one of the deadlies tyears in terms of road rage-related deaths. The death rates have almost doubled compared to previous years, with a person being killed or injured by a road rage-related shooting every 18 hours.
These alarming statistics show that more and more people are losing their battles with their emotions and allowing their fury to make them react recklessly.
Self-awareness helps manage anger because if we know what triggers our emotions, we can learn to recognize and control them—rather than being ruled by them.
Self-awareness is not about suppressing or burying your anger but instead helps you recognize how different emotional states relate to certain behaviors. So, when you’re more self-aware, you tend to have more control over your anger and actions because you’re more likely to pause and take a step back and think about consequences before reacting.
Self-awareness also increases self-confidence, so you’ll also be less likely to need validation from others, which helps you stay in control of your own emotions. And the more self-aware you are, the more empathetic you become to the challenges other people face and compassionate in considering there may be rational reasons why they are acting out or otherwise provoking you.
How Can I Increase My Self-Awareness?
Practicing mindfulness is very helpful. When you’re paying attention to the present moment and what you're sensing from it instead of focusing on thoughts about past events or worries about the future, you can increase your self-awareness.
Practicing mindful meditation regularly, taking stock of and naming your feelings and paying attention to your body's signals (racing heart, shortness of breath) help you to think before reacting impulsively.
Once you recognize your pounding pulse and ragged breathing as a reaction to external stimuli, you can take steps, like breathing deeply and slowly, to decrease both.
Here at Communicare, we have anger-management training and resources available for individuals or groups and partners in the community. If your office or group (church group, civic group, sorority, fraternity, school group, club, etc.) requires any anger management training, contact us today.