Many of our lives are hectic, busy, and can become stressful. As humans it’s not unusual for us to feel angry at times and want to lash out when our buttons have been pushed. Some believe that getting their anger out is a form of catharsis and is the best way to overcome one’s negative feelings towards another.
Jeffrey Lohr, a psychology professor who studied “Venting in the Treatment of Anger” said, “Venting may make you feel different in the moment, but the change in emotional state doesn’t necessarily feel better; it may just feel less bad.” People may vent in all sorts of ways including punching a pillow, blowing up at another person, yelling and screaming, confronting someone immediately after the offense, slamming doors, or using social media as an outlet to rant about their anger.
Often times our angry outbursts don’t reduce or resolve the situation and in many cases they make it worse. If venting isn’t the answer to one’s dilemma, than what will actually help?
- Take a Time-Out: Remove yourself from the situation by going to another room or area to take some deep breaths and relax. Try counting to ten slowly or repeating a calming phrase. Sometimes getting physical exercise, taking a bath, listening to your favorite song, or going out for a walk can release that built up tension and place you in a new mind-set.
- Delay your reaction: Simply by waiting a few minutes or until the next morning to diffuse anger can save you from saying hurtful comments or things you do not mean. Before you decide to write an angry e-mail or verbally let someone know of your dissatisfaction, slow down and wait a day or two to see how you feel.
- Write it Down: Consider taking a minute to write down what is really bothering you. This can be a constructive way to get a better understanding of your feelings and possible triggers that fueled your angry response. A 2008 study titled, “Effects of Written Anger Expression in Chronic Pain Patients,” found that those who had written their angry feelings down had reported less depression and greater feelings of control.
- Express yourself effectively: If you’ve decided to confront someone after using the first three steps, make an effort to avoid criticism and blame. Begin your conversation in a respectful manner by stating how you feel. For example, “I feel very sad when I’m called names in an argument because it hurts my feelings.”
If you are struggling with anger challenges and would like to see a therapist to help, Jennifer Devlin, AMFT is now accepting clients.
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