Anger and Codependency

Published: 08th September 2008
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Anger is a natural God-given emotion but it can at times get the best of us. It can be an essential device for basic survival, but we need to know how to recognize it so we can learn to convey it in a more appropriate manner than angry outbursts. Anger can be expressed in a healthy or in an unhealthy way. A study done in 1997 showed that 58% of anger occurances included shouting as a form of expressing emotion and fewer than 10% were made up of some form of physical aggression.

Feeling angry is a warning to us that we sometimes ignore and hold it inside without ever expressing it in an appropriate way. If ignoring the feeling becomes a habit, we can become numb to the feeling and, over time, not even be aware of the damage we are creating within ourselves. Anger can get out of control and become destructive. It can escalade to the point it can control our behavior and attitudes.

Some signs of feeling anger that you may be ignoring are: becoming easily annoyed with people or when certain situations arise, shutting down emotions and communication with certain people, feeling frustrated easily, not forgetting if you've been "wronged" and holding a grudge, struggling emotionally or blaming others for your problems. In a codependent relationship, it usually means you are reacting to your circumstances instead of acting upon them, which can lead to anger. When your own needs are not cared for, it can leave you feeling angry. We must realize that our anger will not fix anything.

It is okay to be angry and there are ways to express that anger that are okay and some that are not okay. There is a way to resolve the conflicts that come about. Assertive, not aggressive, behavior is what is called for. Anger can be either constructive or destructive. The way we act in any given situation depends on our response. If we let our emotions build up, it can lead to harsh consequences.

The first key is recognizing anger and its signs. The signs could be the volume of your voice, negative verbal response, your breathing, tension in your muscles or withdrawing in certain situations and from certain people. Use good judgement in situations that you might need to walk away from or separate yourself from if only for the time being. Taking a step back may be needed for you to clearly see and evaluate the situation.

Learn to recognize repressed anger whether it is now or in the future. Anger will alway demand a response. Any anger that disturbs or obstructs your sense of self or your routine needs to be dealt with. Signs of hidden anger may be having a monotone speaking voice, irritability, over-politeness, procrastination, or physical signs of clenched fists, grinding of teeth, stomach ulcers or a sore neck.

The first step of overcoming your anger is recognizing it and accepting responsibility for it. The following are some ways to recognize if your anger is reaching a destructive level in your life. Do you get annoyed very easily, feel frustrated often, become easily impatient, struggle emotionally or blame others for the problems in your life? Feeling anger can alert you in certain situations that you might need to take a step back, especially if you frequently have sudden outbursts of anger. Try not to set your expectations too high that it causes you to react with anger if the expectations do not turn out as you wanted them to.

There are three main approaches to dealing with your anger. You can express it, suppress it or calm it. Learning how to make your needs clearly known, understand how to get them met or how to calm yourself will manage your anger. Managing your anger can help you see that it may need to be redirected or converted to more constructive behavior. It is best to learn what triggers your anger so you can become skilled at developing tactics to keep those triggers at bay and from pushing you over the edge. Learning to change the way you think can help. Focus on your attitude and how you handle situations. Angry people tend to jump to conclusions which are usually inaccurate. Be sure you gather all information before you come to a conclusion regarding any situation.

Don't hold on to irrational beliefs that have gathered in your mind. Solution-oriented thinking will serve you better. Engaging in physical activity can help divert your attention while you calm yourself. Reading, drawing, writing or any relaxation therapy can help. They can all help you take some time and a step back so you can examine all your options without being defensive.

Assertive communication can help acknowledge and provide possible solutions to the problem. Examine your self-talk, but don't try to validate your right to feel that anger so that you can continue your anger. Anger can paralyze you; instead shift your focus on relaxation and alternative ways of thinking that seek solutions. Focus on accepting and adjusting your reactions to what you know are triggers to your anger. Make a long-term plan to maintain your new way of thinking. This can promote harmony within your family or situation.

Be patient with yourself. Perseverance is the key to overcoming any issue or habit. Set firm boundaries and address any situation that presents itself. Claim responsibility for your feelings and that may lessen any outbursts of anger and help you understand those feelings surrounding the situation. Get self-help books and understand you don't always have to act on those feelings.

You can learn to use your anger in a positive way. You can control your internal response and how you react to certain situations. Use deep breathing and imagery to calm yourself and change your way of thinking. Give it your best shot and keep track of your progress along the way. You can't eliminate anger, but you can change your response to it.

© 2008 Lori Klauser

Visit Lori at: Receive her free e-book Traveling the Road of Codependency when you sign up for her newsletter. She takes codependency one-step at a time; delivering concepts that help you master healing.

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