Addiction to anger is one of the most common and lethal addictions, and one most seldom recognized. The anger addict becomes hooked by the false sense of power anger brings. As the addiction grows, it consumes more and more of their lives, producing painful consequences.
It is easy to become addicted. We are all creatures of habit. Habits provide a sense of certainty, security and stability in our lives. When they are disrupted our sense of well being becomes easily threatened. However, when we depend upon a habit for our sense of well being, it is easy for it to develop into an addiction.
The best way to undo an addiction is to look it squarely in the face, see what triggers it, how it functions become aware of the false promises it offers and the huge costs we pay. Then we replace old behaviors with new ones that are easy and enjoyable. As we dissolve an addiction we regain power back over our lives.
To begin to dissolve the addiction to anger, we will start by becoming aware. What is the source of this addiction? What function does it serve?
Functions of Addictions
When we are addicted to anything (anger, substances, relationships), many troubling aspects of life are blocked out. Our focus narrows. The addiction numbs us to painful feelings we may not wish to deal with. The addiction is serving as a defense against anxiety. It prevents us from seeing and dealing with issues, which need to be attended to.
In particular, an addiction to anger provides a sense of power. This is often a defense against feeling helpless or inadequate. Individuals become blind to the fact that as the addiction develops, they will need more and more of it to feel okay. Not only does the dosage increase, but so does the negative impact upon their lives.
Addiction provides a false sense of security. At first it makes the individual feel safe and secure. The reality, however, is that an addiction blinds an individual from doing what needs to be done to build a life of true value and stability.
Effects Of Addiction To Anger
When we are angry we often have a temporary feeling of strength, energy, power, authority or control. Much like alcohol, the surge of anger, which takes over, block out fears, inhibitions and doubts. There is a temporary sense of freedom and empowerment that we normally lack.
Anger also blocks out logical thought processes, producing a sense that we are absolutely right. Some individuals who have trouble making decisions can make them easily then. Decisions made while angry often focus only upon a limited aspect of the situation. These kinds of decisions rarely provide positive outcomes.
Anger provides a sense of justification. Many actions that might seem unacceptable when calm seem perfectly fine when we are angry. Anger also encourages us to blurt out negative thoughts and feelings we may have been holding in that might have better gone left unsaid. Of course, after the surge of anger passes, it is difficult to take these words back. Even if we apologize the after effects remain.
Dissolving The Addiction To Anger:
1) List the times in which you feel angry or upset automatically. What person, thoughts, memory or situation brings this up? For now, just notice this and write it down. As you go through the day, if another situation strikes you, step back, notice it, and write it down as well. Rather than reacting blindly, you are now taking time to become aware. Once you become fully aware of the way anger operates in your life it will not be able to sneak up from behind.
2) Find a substitute for the automatic angry reaction. Instead of reacting the same old way the next time the situation arises, stop, breathe and tell yourself, I will not be a slave to anger anymore. Stop and listen to the person and say to yourself, “This time I will let them be right. There’s plenty of time to be right later.” See how much better you feel now getting pulled down into anger.
3) Find a new way of viewing the situation. Instead of seeing them as an enemy, tell yourself that their anger is a cry for help. It comes from pain and conflict within. Instead of going on the attack, say to the person (either in your mind or out loud), “What can I do to serve you?” Not only will this diffuse the anger, but will open new doors for both of you to walk through.