Habits Answers

I experienced anger towards a family member, but days later my anger hasn’t left. How do I resolve?

This is a great question. Our anger builds over time and when our inner self has had so much of it, the explosion can take place. The thing about being angry is figuring out why you are angry. Many people have used the helpful tool "Anger Iceberg" it's a useful worksheet that identifies the anger and digs deeper into the self. This is something I would recommend to any client and go with them. Sometimes anger is more than just being mad and staying mad. It's depression, worry, anxiety, stress, frustration, and more. Once you identify these feelings the real work begins with learning healthy coping skills to control that anger and overcoming it. I would like to reflect that anger causes a response from others as well. If you're angry about being locked out and failed promises, what is going for your parents. Why did they have the initial response to lock you out?  When the timing is right, do some self-reflection on this situation. Your parents locked you out, what happened before that. Go through the scenario of events. Explore the before, during, and after. Write this out so it's even more concrete in your findings. You mentioned feelings of depression after being angered, where does that come from for you? Does the feeling of depression occur because you are upset with yourself for begin angrily, or it is more related to your parents? This could every impactful to your story. In some ways, we must be able to tell our own stories. We refer to this as Narrative Therapy and the positive to this technique is the client being able to share what's happened to them and identify the past to see how it's affecting the present. It can be very effective in sessions.  TIPS for countering Anger:  Learn to identify your anger. Once you have acknowledged the warning signs of your anger, know when to step away before things escalate. Slow down and think before you speak, ask yourself "what am I really angry about?", take 3 deep breaths, do physical exercise, speak in "I" statements and express your anger calmly, respond in humor instead of hostility, take a time out and return to the situation, identify possible solutions to this event that caused your anger to flare up. 
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 10/21/2021

How do I feel less angry?

Hi Nemo,  Thank you for your question. I'm so sorry to hear you're struggling with worries about the future and that feeling that your efforts are not enough. It sounds like you've been trying to make healthy decisions but are having issues with follow-through and maintaining those new habits. It also sounds like you're experiencing a lot of anger that is impacting your ability to do those things that you need/want to do for yourself. You also mention a feeling of loneliness because you've found it difficult to maintain friendships.  There are many different strategies that can help in situations like this starting with acknowledging your feelings and having empathy for yourself in what you've been through.  It can be a mistake to ignore your emotions and just try to distract yourself or move through the days without examining them. Find ways to get in touch with how you're feeling on a regular basis and allow yourself to truly feel those feelings. If you need to cry, that's okay- if you're feeling angry, find a safe way to let that out as well. Are you aware of people, places, or situations that trigger your anger? If so, it may be helpful to expand on that awareness and prepare yourself for those stressful situations. While eventually, you will want to learn to manage your anger, learning to identify and manage triggers can be an effective way to cope in the meantime. Add exercise into your daily routine: It can be difficult to feel motivated to exercise when you’re feeling worried or angry but exercise can help improve your mood. That’s because exercise helps your body release endorphins, a hormone that makes you temporarily feel good. Exercise can also improve your sleeping patterns. Get enough sleep every night: Focus on sleeping seven to eight hours a night. Feeling well-rested can help improve your mood and motivation. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, talk to your doctor. Spend time doing things you enjoy: It’s important to make time for yourself. Plan activities that you enjoy, even if it’s something as simple as taking a walk or making time to read a book. Having something enjoyable to look forward to may also improve your mood. Develop a sense of self-compassion: self-compassion is a compassionate response toward one's own suffering, which can interfere with self-criticism likely to be cued during challenging tasks. It can also strengthen the motivation to engage in self-help strategies. Visualize yourself from the perspective of a compassionate observer. Notice from the outside how feelings are upsetting you and how they are reflected in your appearance. Try to let the warm feeling of compassion and desire to help arise within yourself. Say to yourself: “It is understandable that you feel that way. You are experiencing a natural response to upsetting thoughts. But I am going to help you.” Encourage yourself by saying: “You can pull yourself out of this mood again. You have already accomplished so much; you will be able to deal with this.” Visualize putting your hand on your shoulder or hugging yourself to soothe and comfort yourself. Give yourself a friendly smile. Think about if there are other things you want to tell yourself that would energize and encourage you to cheer up. Take your time to say those things. When you feel it is appropriate, begin saying goodbye to yourself and remind yourself that you can come back every time you want. Therapy could be a really powerful way to manage your anger and loneliness. You've taken the most important first step in recognizing that you need help in managing your symptoms. Working with a therapist may include several different strategies. Identifying negative thinking patterns that contribute to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness and developing a more positive outlook. Exploring learned thoughts and behaviors that create problems and contribute to your current mood. Identifying problems that may contribute to consistent anger and which aspects of those problems you may be able to solve or improve. Regaining a sense of control and pleasure in life. You may want to journal about the things that cause your angry episodes- what happened before, during, and after.  Lastly, make a point to reach out to the people in your support network. You said you've always found it difficult to keep up with friends, so it might be helpful to set reminders. Who do you wish you had a better relationship with? Who makes you feel better when you spend time together? Who always answers the phone when you call? Set some goals around communication and social activities. You might be surprised at how willing your community is to show up after you reach out.  It's possible to feel better. You've got this. 
Answered on 10/21/2021

How to control my temper

Dear Janel,   Thank you for your message.   Anger is a response we have when we don't feel understood, don't feel listened to, don't feel respected. At first, we might just feel disappointed or irritated, however, it escalates often when others add fuel into it by saying words that are hurtful, misunderstanding, and dismissive. We then become even angrier and at last, we turn our anger into rage.   To control anger we must understand how anger works within us. Anger is almost like a volcano when it erupts, it releases a large amount of energy and often is destructive. However, this energy is often accumulated for a while before it erupts. If we can understand what accumulates this energy with us, and find ways to release it, then we can be assured that our volcano will not erupt.   Anger is the natural emotion created in a fight-or-flight situation by the physiology of your mind and body. When you sense a threat your mind generates fear and anger.  The fear you generate is part of a flight response from your physiology. Anger is the emotional energy you generate for the fight against that perceived threat.    What can be confusing is that your mind creates fear and anger even when the threat is just imagined.   Emotions like anger are natural and real.  Even if the threat is imagined the anger you create is just as real and powerful. However, the reasons you generate anger aren't always real. If you aren't aware of how your mind is imagining scenarios of hurt your anger will appear irrational.   Real vs. Imagined Anger   It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish a real threat from an imagined threat because they can happen at the same time.  For example, someone is cutting you off on the freeway and a car briefly maneuvers in a way that could cause an accident and possibly injure your body.  There's a natural fight-or-flight reaction to your emotions and you create a combination of fear and anger. The reality of this harm usually passes very quickly and so do your emotions.   However, your imagination may take over and create worse scenarios.  You begin to consider that you or someone in your car might be hurt or killed. You might recall similar events from your past, project those into your mind, and add more emotion.  After the real physical threat passes your mind still projects scenarios in the imagination. Your emotions then respond to those imagined scenarios.   Even later that day when you replay the event in your mind, your emotions respond to the imagined version. The emotions you create from your imagined scenarios are no longer based on anything real.  Because of the natural response of emotions to what you imagine you can amplify fear and anger to the degree that they become out of control. However, fear and anger are natural consequences of the imagined scenarios. The problem is that the imagined scenarios in the mind are out of control and no longer based on reality.   Awareness   If you are not aware of how your imagination is projecting these scenarios you will blame other people unnecessarily for your emotions.  Understanding how your mind dreams images and scenarios of outcome is critical to understanding your anger and other emotions.   The initial moment of fear and anger resulted from a very real scenario that could have caused you harm.  However, most often the anger and fear people generate are sourced from their uncontrolled beliefs and imagination.   Anger is Rational   Anger is the natural emotional response designed to protect us from danger. It is part of our instinctual system for protection and preservation.  Notice how a dog growls and bares its teeth in response to a threat to its territory.  A mother bear will also go into ferocious anger if you were to come near her cubs.  Anger is a force of energy that we project in order to push away or combat a threat.  However, anger ceases to be a form of protecting your life and becomes a means of destroying your life and relationships when the threat isn't real.   Your emotions respond the same whether a threat is real or part of your imagination. Anger itself is a completely rational emotion to have when you perceive the thoughts and scenarios in your mind. There is nothing irrational or wrong with the anger from imagined scenarios and beliefs. Your emotional response system is working properly. The problem is with the thoughts, beliefs, and scenarios in your mind that generate an anger response.  The scenarios the mind projects are often not rational at all.   Other problems are created when you do not have the awareness and willpower to refrain from outbursts of your anger.  These reactions and consequences often distract us from the root cause of the problem.   It's easy to assume that your anger is the problem because it is what you notice.  It is the outbursts of anger that we see and that cause destruction.  The assumptions and interpretations in the mind are less noticeable amidst this emotional drama.  However, your emotions of anger are just a natural response to what the mind imagines.  If you perceive and believe what the mind imagines you will create emotions as a natural response.   If you accidentally touch a hot stove and burn your hand you will feel pain.  Naturally, you would want to pain to stop, but the pain in your hand isn't the problem.  The pain is just a natural response to touching a hot stove.  The physical touch on the stove is less noticeable, but yet it is the real problem.  Touching the hot stove is the cause of that pain. The pain won't go away until you take your hand away from the hot stove.   The same is true for your emotions such as anger.  You may want to stop your anger, but anger is just a reaction to something else. Anger is the natural emotional reaction to what the mind and imagination are doing.  The way to overcome anger is to change how the mind imagines stories and how much you believe them.  When the mind imagines painful scenarios you naturally produce anger.  To reduce and eliminate the danger it is necessary to shift the stories that the mind imagines.   To effectively reduce or eliminate the anger in our life, we can practice changing the core beliefs, assumptions, and interpretations of the mind.    The Reaction to Emotional Pain   Your mind can generate anger and fear even when there's not a physical threat of pain. Your emotional response mechanism can generate anger just as easily by imagining a scenario involving the threat of emotional pain. When your mind is out of control imagining scenarios of emotional pain, your anger goes out of control. For anger to happen the emotional pain doesn't even have to occur. If you just imagine that you will be hurt in the future, you can become angry before anything has happened.   Understand is the first step towards managing. We can't control what we don't understand.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/21/2021

I’m quick to snap and start and argument. How can I take a moment to reflect?

Correct me if I am wrong, I wonder if you may have had been the subject of criticism or persons not considering the impact of their actions would have on you in the past and developed a knee-jerk reaction, a reflex of sorts to go into attack mode first.  I would like to suggest starting with controlling your breathing, taking a moment to remove your focus from the present moment, and begin self-regulation from the bottom up. Our emotions are influenced by our body signals, internal body states, and vice versa. Hyperventilation or heavy breathing correlates with stress/anger/ heightened emotional arousal and sends signals or feedback to our brains that we are stress and/or angry. When we regulate our breathing we can change the signals or modify that feedback to our brain to that of calm. You can reduce the intensity of your emotions by practicing mindfulness breathing exercises. Breathing in deeply through your nose as if you are smelling a flower for ten (10) seconds, holding it for five (5) seconds, and releasing you breathe as if you are blowing out a candle. You can repeat this cycle until you notice a reduction in emotional arousal.  A possible strategy may be to implement a technique "Stop, Think and Do" once you feel they are triggered to urge to snap or start an argument. First, "STOP", stop and suspend your response until you had the chance to process what is happening for you at the moment. As you begin to consider what happened for you at that moment, "THINK" about what does this means to/for me. Consider if your understanding of the scenario or perception of intent is congruent with the behavior(s)/action(s). Challenge the validity of the meaning-making. When you move to the "DO" step, do use "I Statements" ( https://www.therapistaid.com/worksheets/i-statements.pdf) to express how you are feeling in response to what has taken place and begin a dialogue that helps you understand what the intended outcome and explain what your needs are to avoid the miscommunication/ misconception moving forward.  Also, the use of fair fighting rules (https://www.therapistaid.com/worksheets/fair-fighting-rules.pdf) may be a way to buffet responses when you do find yourself engaged in a disagreement. 
(MS, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 10/21/2021

How do I calm down when I’m feeling like I’ve been wronged, offended, or disrespected?

How does not calming down benefit you?  This is a question that you could ask yourself as you experience anger.  Holding on to anger is not benefiting you.  It is taking your joy and peace away.  You are giving your power away.  I am reading in your question that you understand what healthy coping skills are (taking a walk, meditating, etc...).  I am wondering if you could invite someone on this journey with you as you process your anger.  Seeking professional help could help you look into your triggers and how to avoid them. Discussing your thoughts and feelings and how they are activated beyond control for you.  Seeking a healthy support system can be an encouraging way to handle our frustrations.  Healthy family or friends can be a support as well as a therapist.  In therapy, you would have an environment where you are not alone and you are processing this anger together.  Letting go of little things is not easy but there has to be a place to start.  Maybe not so much letting go but processing the little thing might involve forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn't mean it is excused, it means you are able to understand the benefits of forgiveness so you can be free.  Is your self-esteem attached to your pain?  Trusting yourself that when others wrong us, offend us, or are disrespectful doesn't mean it is about us.  There is usually something going on with them that their insecurities explode.  Re-evaluating the people we choose to hang around with.  Set healthy boundaries.  Communicate your thoughts and feelings.  These things can give you your power back so that you can wake up every day and make the choice to have a good day or not.  No matter who crosses your path you can choose how you react to that.  I am not sure what your space looks like and if it is crowded but you could implement a routine where you find yourself out in nature or a favorite coffee shop reading a good book a couple of times a week.  Take your power back and enjoy the little moments.  Journal your anger, draw your anger, or exercise your anger.  There are many ways to display our feelings.  It can be productive and not harmful.  Deep breaths.   
(M.A., LMFT, M.A., LPCC)
Answered on 10/21/2021

Why I am getting upset for no reason?

Dear Achu,   Thank you for your message and for sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress/depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of becomes traumatized by it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result, we would do everything we can to avoid/fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like suffering, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace, and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, always accompanies a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight/avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings, or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid it, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings, and thoughts while continuing to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up the "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   Take a few more deep breaths and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   Once you've done this, scan your body again and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/21/2021

How do I get rid of these feelings?

Dear Roro,   Thank you very much for your message.   I understand that we are going through some fluctuations with our emotions and often it can feel like we are going backward. However, the reality is that the night is always darkest before dawn. The reason you are feeling discouraged is that you are trying to move forward in this healing process, therefore when you do experience any kind of anxiety or depression you begin to doubt yourself in this process.   Meanwhile, as human being, we will always have times when we feel anxious or depressed. That is normal and natural. Just like there are days that it rains, there are also days that the sun shines. This isn't a problem to be fixed.    We will only feel more depressed if we constantly compare ourselves with our old selves in the past that seemed to be happier, while we forget that back then we did not have this much on our plate to worry and we did not experience what we have experienced recently that gave us hurts and pain. Therefore it isn't fair to our current self if we always think about how to go back in time, that isn't possible anyway.   To further recover from feelings of depression and anxiety, we must constantly be thinking about how to develop a healthy, positive interaction with ourselves.   Happy relationships all depend on how happy we are with ourselves. So how happy are we?   If you feel like you're on a constant quest for inner bliss, you might be asking yourself: If there was one secret on how to be happy in your relationship or marriage, workplace, home life and family wouldn't you have learned it by now?   Are you constantly searching, asking people who seem happy, reading articles, and watching videos on how to be happy? If so, you're certainly not alone. Online search engines get millions of people asking this question, and the internet is full of promises that this strategy or that formula will deliver you to a place of lasting happiness. Yet, many miss the main point: they never even touch on the fact that the real key to happiness with others is happiness with yourself.   If you haven't noticed or been here yourself (most of us have), an insecure person's need for constant approval is exhausting. Those who are happy and love themselves don't hang around with that kind of negative energy. Since we can't change other people, lead by example and others will follow in your footsteps, becoming good role models themselves. Here are 5 lessons that I learned (still learning) to find peace within ourselves and enjoy true happiness that does not depend on others.   1. Forgive Yourself   Forgive yourself for anything and everything you think you caused that was bad in your or someone else's life. You can't go back for a do-over, so learn the lesson and move forward, promising to better handle any similar situation that may arise. Now you're freed up to relax more and have greater peace of mind without beating yourself up over guilt and resentment.   2. Understand That You Are Complete   And understand that, "You complete me," was just a cheesy line in a Tom Cruise movie. (I loved that line at first too... for a few seconds, until I realized how inaccurate it was. Keep reading to learn why!) The reason most of us don't feel complete and latched onto that line like it was the end-all-be-all relationship concept is that we're waiting for someone else to be or do something that makes us feel whole.   First of all, as mentioned, we are already complete. But even if we weren't, no one else would be able to complete us anyway - it's impossible. When we put our happiness in someone else's hands we set them up for failure. Why would we do that to someone we care about? Because we don't realize we are the only ones who control our happiness.   Does this mean if you're unhappy it's your fault? Yes. Does this also put you in a position of power in your life? Absolutely. You want your relationships to be the joining of two complete individuals to create a third, larger entity so that you're a part of something, not just half of something. The whole "my other half" thing just breeds insecurity, which leads to the most painful relationship challenges like jealousy, abuse, and infidelity. Why on earth would you want your happiness to be determined by someone or something outside of yourself?   3. Get To Know Yourself   When do you feel you're at your best when you're alone? Are you reading your favorite book overlooking a beautiful view? Enjoying your favorite tea, watching a movie? Shopping outside at the farmers market? Listening to your favorite music? How does your body feel? Healthy? Need some work? No one will be happier than you when your body looks good and functions well. This is a good confidence builder and when you have more confidence, you look better and healthier and carry yourself in a completely different way that attracts confident people to you.   Here's a personal example: I had a spider vein on my lower leg and didn't feel comfortable in shorts for years. I finally had it removed and couldn't believe how much better I felt. My posture and confidence in shorts were much improved. Some things are easily fixable and for the others, we may need to adjust our perspective a bit.   What are your favorite parts of yourself - your appearance, your character traits, your values, or your personality? Do you get a kick out of your great sense of humor? I get a kick out of mine. I laugh to myself quite often! Are you really excited that you value honesty, which has attracted honest, genuine people to you? Are your eyes or hands or knees your favorite part of your body? Get to know your favorite parts and love them all.   4. Take A Good Look At Yourself   Take a look and notice how amazing you are. Keep your self-talk positive. There are things supermodels hate about themselves, so don't go thinking you're the only one who has dislikes. You can be happy with yourself even if there are things you'd like to change. I've always been shorter than most other people and would have given anything to be "normal" height. It took me 27 years of hating my height when many other people always wanted to be taller and would have traded me in an instant. Look how many years I experienced self-induced suffering. (This describes all suffering by the way. Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.)   What are you good at, best at, and want to improve at? What are your talents and what skills have you developed? What would you like to do in your life that you haven't done yet? What is the best thing you've ever done? Are you noticing that you might ask some of these questions on a date to get to know someone and determine if you like them or not? We get to know people by asking questions although we rarely ask them of ourselves. And when someone else asks, we sometimes answer differently than when we're asking ourselves.   5. Ask Yourself Questions   To find out more about yourself, ask yourself the questions you would ask on a date. The quality of your relationships is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Ask good questions and lots of them (more than you would ask on a date; it's OK to be a chatterbox with yourself) to build that strong, healthy relationship with yourself.   Take time away from other people and be happy alone. At first, it might feel weird choosing to be alone but being alone and being lonely are two very different things. Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with." I went from being scared to sit alone in Starbucks for fearsome strangers would think I didn't have any friends to loving going places alone. I have attracted wonderful friends by learning how to like myself and since like attracts like (energy), they happily do things on their own too. Yes, we do enjoy each other's company as well; we don't just talk about all the things we did by ourselves (although that would be funny).   Welcome to your inner power. You are qualified, capable, and worthy of being happy with yourself regardless of anyone else on the planet so lead by example and show others how it's done. You will see that you can have much more fulfilling relationships without putting the responsibility of your happiness on someone else.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/21/2021

How do I stop being so angry

Hi, and thank you for your question! I am Danielle Johnson, a licensed therapist with BetterHelp. I hope that I can provide a helpful answer to your question.  There may be numerous factors involved in uncontrollable anger, lashing out, and feeling useless/hopeless/worthless. These symptoms could indicate changes in one’s social environment (ex. relationships, occupation, finances, peers, etc.); behaviors patterns (ex. substance use, medication adherence, sleep hygiene, etc.); medical/biology (ex. Hormonal changes, underlying medical concerns, nutrition, etc.); spirituality/existential awareness;  or family structure. It is important to consider all areas of your life that might be unattended or under-addressed. As you work toward decreasing anger, you might also want to check in with a doctor or address any health-related goals you have, for example. You might notice an increase in cognitive or thought-based distortions that contribute to increased frustration and anger. For example, you might tell yourself, “I can’t do anything right!” or “Everyone hates me!” These are examples of cognitive distortions.   Distorted thoughts are patterns of thinking or believing. The thoughts are usually untrue or do not tell the whole story and cause significant emotional discomfort.   In addition to counseling, journaling might be a helpful tool for thought exploration. It allows you to understand and prioritize your concerns, worries, and complex thoughts. Physical activity or exercise is another valuable tool for managing emotions. Exercise can decrease stress and irritability. It increases feel-good chemicals and offers a sense of empowerment and confidence. Another point to consider is how you are expressing your emotions. It is essential to keep those we love close to us for support, guidance, community, and connection. All of these relational factors contribute to our sense of wellness and health. We all have emotions and feelings, and that is okay. It is also okay to verbalize how you are feeling. However, we can get accustomed to expressing how we feel (ex. Yelling), demonstrating how we feel (ex. Slamming doors), and making sure others feel the way we feel (ex. Abruptly walking away mid-conversation). When angry, instead of using communication styles like demonstrating, expressing, or making sure others feel like you, try: pausing, taking a few deep breaths, and calmly say what you are feeling (ex. “I feel… sad, angry, rejected, invalidated, etc.). I hope these examples and possible suggestions are practical ideas that build your coping mechanism toolbox. Thank you for reaching out, and my best to you with your healing! -Danielle 
(LCPC, CAC-AD, NCC)
Answered on 10/21/2021

How do I stop getting angry? I just get to the point where I can’t control myself.

Anger can take the form of hostility, withdrawal/isolation, yelling, arguments, or chronic dissatisfaction with life.  It is typically coupled by feelings of being resentful and experiencing guilt.  This cycle can be exhausting.  It sounds like you are feeling out of control and completely overwhelmed.   It can be therapeutic to peel back the anger and identify the emotions behind the anger…anger can be symptomatic of other unexpressed emotions. It is also important to give yourself some time to process, as these emotions are still very raw ….Anger can be a protector of raw feelings. Other emotions may be spurring the anger and we use anger to protect the raw feelings that lie beneath it. Anger can be formed by that disappointment with self and protect one from deeply painful shame.  Carrying the weight hurt or anger forces the body to release stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol). Anger management techniques stem the flow of these hormones. Learning to recognize anger as not only a basic, valid emotion, but also as a protector of our raw feelings, can be incredibly powerful. It can lead to healing conversations. A therapist can help you implement some anger management techniques.  Anger management is the process of learning how to recognize the early signs of anger and taking healthy action to cope with the situation. While anger is a normal emotion when expressed appropriately, it can be dangerous if unchecked.  Anger management assists you in recognizing stressors that trigger anger (these could include financial stress, work life, relationships).  It also includes fostering awareness of the physical signs that anger is rising (sweating, racing heart, clenched jaw, flushed face, poor sleep).  Further, it is about recognizing the emotional signs (wanting to scream at someone).  Anger management focuses on learning specific ways of thinking and behavioral skills.  For example, learning relaxation techniques (deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, stepping away from the stressful situation) or additional self-soothing skills will help yourself keep calm.  Once specific situations that trigger anger are recognized, distorted thinking can be corrected.  Anger management encourages individuals to express negative emotions assertively and constructively.  Effective communication void of aggression will help reduce conflict.  Lastly, engaging in problem-solving skills will re-direct the frustration and benefit conflict resolution.
(PsyD, MS, LPC-MHSP, NCC)
Answered on 10/21/2021

I’m not sure if therapy is something I need.

Dear Ving,   Thank you for your message.   Let's understand a bit more about anger.   Anger is a response we have when we don't feel understood, don't feel listened to, don't feel respected. At first, we might just feel disappointed or irritated, however, it escalates often when others add fuel into it by saying words that are hurtful, misunderstanding, and dismissive. We then become even angrier and at last, we turn our anger into rage.   To control anger we must understand how anger works within us. Anger is almost like a volcano when it erupts, it releases a large amount of energy and often is destructive. However, this energy is often accumulated for a while before it erupts. If we can understand what accumulates this energy with us, and find ways to release it, then we can be assured that our volcano will not erupt.   Anger is the natural emotion created in a fight-or-flight situation by the physiology of your mind and body. When you sense a threat your mind generates fear and anger.  The fear you generate is part of a flight response from your physiology. Anger is the emotional energy you generate for the fight against that perceived threat.    What can be confusing is that your mind creates fear and anger even when the threat is just imagined.   Emotions like anger are natural and real.  Even if the threat is imagined the anger you create is just as real and powerful. However, the reasons you generate anger aren't always real. If you aren't aware of how your mind is imagining scenarios of hurt your anger will appear irrational.   Real vs. Imagined Anger   It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish a real threat from an imagined threat because they can happen at the same time.  For example, someone is cutting you off on the freeway and a car briefly maneuvers in a way that could cause an accident and possibly injure your body.  There's a natural fight-or-flight reaction to your emotions and you create a combination of fear and anger. The reality of this harm usually passes very quickly and so do your emotions.   However, your imagination may take over and create worse scenarios.  You begin to consider that you or someone in your car might be hurt or killed. You might recall similar events from your past, project those into your mind, and add more emotion.  After the real physical threat passes your mind still projects scenarios in the imagination. Your emotions then respond to those imagined scenarios.   Even later that day when you replay the event in your mind, your emotions respond to the imagined version. The emotions you create from your imagined scenarios are no longer based in anything real.  Because of the natural response of emotions to what you imagine you can amplify fear and anger to the degree that they become out of control. However the fear and anger are natural consequence of the imagined scenarios. The problem is that the imagined scenarios in the mind are out of control and no longer based in reality.   Awareness   If you are not aware of how your imagination is projecting these scenarios you will blame other people unnecessarily for your emotions.  Understanding how your mind dreams images and scenarios of outcome is critical to understanding your anger and other emotions.   The initial moment of fear and anger resulted from a very real scenario that could have caused you harm.  However, most often the anger and fear people generate are sourced from their uncontrolled beliefs and imagination.   Anger is Rational   Anger is the natural emotional response designed to protect us from danger. It is part of our instinctual system for protection and preservation.  Notice how a dog growls and bares its teeth in response to a threat to its territory.  A mother bear will also go into ferocious anger if you were to come near her cubs.  Anger is a force of energy that we project in order to push away or combat a threat.  However, anger ceases to be a form of protecting your life and becomes a means of destroying your life and relationships when the threat isn't real.   Your emotions respond the same whether a threat is real or part of your imagination. Anger itself is a completely rational emotion to have when you perceive the thoughts and scenarios in your mind. There is nothing irrational or wrong with the anger from imagined scenarios and beliefs. Your emotional response system is working properly. The problem is with the thoughts, beliefs, and scenarios in your mind that generate an anger response.  The scenarios the mind projects are often not rational at all.   Other problems are created when you do not have the awareness and will power to refrain from outbursts of your anger.  These reactions and consequences often distract us from the root cause of the problem.   It's easy to assume that your anger is the problem because it is what you notice.  It is the outbursts of anger that we see and that cause destruction.  The assumptions and interpretations in the mind are less noticeable amidst this emotional drama.  However your emotions of anger are just a natural response to what the mind imagines.  If you perceive and believe what the mind imagines you will create emotions as a natural response.   If you accidentally touch a hot stove and burn your hand you will feel pain.  Naturally you would want to pain to stop, but the pain in your hand isn't the problem.  The pain is just a natural response to touching a hot stove.  The physical touch on the stove is less noticeable, but yet it is the real problem.  Touching the hot stove is the cause of that pain. The pain won't go away until you take your hand away from the hot stove.   The same is true for your emotions such as anger.  You may want to stop your anger, but anger is just a reaction to something else. Anger is the natural emotional reaction to what the mind and imagination are doing.  The way to overcome anger is to change how the mind imagines stories and how much you believe them.  When the mind imagines painful scenarios you naturally produce anger.  To reduce and eliminate the anger it is necessary to shift the stories that the mind imagines.   To effectively reduce or eliminate the anger in our life, we can practice changing the core beliefs, assumptions, and interpretations of the mind.    The Reaction to Emotional Pain   Your mind can generate anger and fear even when there's not a physical threat of pain. Your emotional response mechanism can generate anger just as easily by imagining a scenario involving the threat of emotional pain. When your mind is out of control imagining scenarios of emotional pain, your anger goes out of control. For anger to happen the emotional pain doesn't even have to occur. If you just imagine that you will be hurt in the future, you can become angry before anything has happened.   Understand is the first step towards managing. We can't control what we don't understand.   I am curious to learn if these words have been helpful in guiding us to a better understand of anger, and reduce our fear towards it. After all, it is something that can be controlled and changed. :)   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/21/2021

I'm depressed and get angry all the time. Why is this?

Dear Jimb,   Thank you for your message.   Anger is a response we have when we don't feel understood, don't feel listened to, don't feel respected. At first we might just feel disappointed or irritated, however it escalates often when others add fuel into it by saying words that are hurtful, misunderstanding and dismissive. We then become even angrier and at last we turn our anger into rage.   To control anger we must understand how anger works within us. Anger is almost like a volcano when it erupts, it releases a large amount of energy and often is destructive. However these energy is often accumulated for a while before it erupts. If we can understand what accumulates these energy with us, and find ways to release it, then we can be assured that our volcano will not erupt.   Anger is the natural emotion created in a fight-or-flight situation by the physiology of your mind and body. When you sense a threat your mind generates fear and anger.  The fear you generate is part of a flight response from your physiology. Anger is the emotional energy you generate for the fight against that perceived threat.    What can be confusing is that your mind creates fear and anger even when the threat is just imagined.   Emotions like anger are natural and real.  Even if the threat is imagined the anger you create is just as real and powerful. However, the reasons you generate anger aren't always real. If you aren't aware of how your mind is imagining scenarios of hurt your anger will appear irrational.   Real vs. Imagined Anger   It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish a real threat from an imagined threat because they can happen at the same time.  For example, someone is cutting you off on the freeway and a car briefly maneuvers in a way that could cause an accident and possibly injure your body.  There's a natural fight-or-flight reaction to your emotions and you create a combination of fear and anger. The reality of this harm usually passes very quickly and so do your emotions.   However, your imagination may take over and create worse scenarios.  You begin to consider that you or someone in your car might be hurt or killed. You might recall similar events from your past, project those into your mind, and add more emotion.  After the real physical threat passes your mind still projects scenarios in the imagination. Your emotions then respond to those imagined scenarios.   Even later that day when you replay the event in your mind, your emotions respond to the imagined version. The emotions you create from your imagined scenarios are no longer based in anything real.  Because of the natural response of emotions to what you imagine you can amplify fear and anger to the degree that they become out of control. However the fear and anger are natural consequence of the imagined scenarios. The problem is that the imagined scenarios in the mind are out of control and no longer based in reality.   Awareness   If you are not aware of how your imagination is projecting these scenarios you will blame other people unnecessarily for your emotions.  Understanding how your mind dreams images and scenarios of outcome is critical to understanding your anger and other emotions.   The initial moment of fear and anger resulted from a very real scenario that could have caused you harm.  However, most often the anger and fear people generate are sourced from their uncontrolled beliefs and imagination.   Anger is Rational   Anger is the natural emotional response designed to protect us from danger. It is part of our instinctual system for protection and preservation.  Notice how a dog growls and bares its teeth in response to a threat to its territory.  A mother bear will also go into ferocious anger if you were to come near her cubs.  Anger is a force of energy that we project in order to push away or combat a threat.  However, anger ceases to be a form of protecting your life and becomes a means of destroying your life and relationships when the threat isn't real.   Your emotions respond the same whether a threat is real or part of your imagination. Anger itself is a completely rational emotion to have when you perceive the thoughts and scenarios in your mind. There is nothing irrational or wrong with the anger from imagined scenarios and beliefs. Your emotional response system is working properly. The problem is with the thoughts, beliefs, and scenarios in your mind that generate an anger response.  The scenarios the mind projects are often not rational at all.   Other problems are created when you do not have the awareness and will power to refrain from outbursts of your anger.  These reactions and consequences often distract us from the root cause of the problem.   It's easy to assume that your anger is the problem because it is what you notice.  It is the outbursts of anger that we see and that cause destruction.  The assumptions and interpretations in the mind are less noticeable amidst this emotional drama.  However your emotions of anger are just a natural response to what the mind imagines.  If you perceive and believe what the mind imagines you will create emotions as a natural response.   If you accidentally touch a hot stove and burn your hand you will feel pain.  Naturally you would want to pain to stop, but the pain in your hand isn't the problem.  The pain is just a natural response to touching a hot stove.  The physical touch on the stove is less noticeable, but yet it is the real problem.  Touching the hot stove is the cause of that pain. The pain won't go away until you take your hand away from the hot stove.   The same is true for your emotions such as anger.  You may want to stop your anger, but anger is just a reaction to something else. Anger is the natural emotional reaction to what the mind and imagination are doing.  The way to overcome anger is to change how the mind imagines stories and how much you believe them.  When the mind imagines painful scenarios you naturally produce anger.  To reduce and eliminate the anger it is necessary to shift the stories that the mind imagines.   To effectively reduce or eliminate the anger in our life, we can practice changing the core beliefs, assumptions, and interpretations of the mind.    The Reaction to Emotional Pain   Your mind can generate anger and fear even when there's not a physical threat of pain. Your emotional response mechanism can generate anger just as easily by imagining a scenario involving the threat of emotional pain. When your mind is out of control imagining scenarios of emotional pain, your anger goes out of control. For anger to happen the emotional pain doesn't even have to occur. If you just imagine that you will be hurt in the future, you can become angry before anything has happened.   Understand is the first step towards managing. We can't control what we don't understand.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/21/2021

How do I control anger issues in my relationship

Hello and thanks for reaching out to Betterhelp with your question. I am wondering if prior to your boyfriend mentioning that you have anger issues, if you were aware that this was a struggle for you? Some people don't have the self awareness that their behaviors are destructive and can compromise the relationships that they have worked hard to establish. Anger concerns can take years to manifest and then it is hard to start making the life changes needed to combat them. First step is always self awareness and trying to determine why you react the way that you do. If you show him that you are willing to work on yourself then maybe he will give you the opportunity to do so. However, working through anger should be done for yourself to make you feel more confident and able to adapt in the world.  Anger management is truly a process. It is helpful to consider your triggers and what irritates you the most. Do these triggers match the reactions that you are giving to them? If not, then focusing on implementing some processing time would be a great place to start. When you notice your body experiencing physical symptoms of anger approaching, implement a mindful pause and remove yourself from the situation to deescalate. We want to determine if the anger stems from inability to express yourself, insecurity, envy, etc.  Some great coping skills for anger are slow and controlled breathing (where you get yourself to a calm place and inhale for 3 counts, exhale for 3 counts repetitively for a bit) This can lower your heart rate, help you regain control and start to think clearer. Another great idea is to journal or write down what you are experiencing in that moment rather than taking your emotions out on the people that you care about. The hard part to accept is that if you project your anger onto others (not necessarily family related, but more specifically friends and significant others) they don't have to keep you in their life and eventually they will become tired of it.  I would suggest to participate in therapy if you have the financial means and resources to in order help keep yourself accountable for working to make these changes and talk through what angers you. All the best! 
(LMHC, CRC)
Answered on 10/21/2021

Will severe rage go away by itself? Do I need professional help

Dear Russell,   Thank you for your message.   Anger is a response we have when we don't feel understood, don't feel listened to, don't feel respected. At first, we might just feel disappointed or irritated, however, it escalates often when others add fuel into it by saying words that are hurtful, misunderstanding, and dismissive. We then become even angrier and at last, we turn our anger into rage.   To control anger we must understand how anger works within us. Anger is almost like a volcano when it erupts, it releases a large amount of energy and often is destructive. However, this energy is often accumulated for a while before it erupts. If we can understand what accumulates this energy with us, and find ways to release it, then we can be assured that our volcano will not erupt.   Anger is the natural emotion created in a fight-or-flight situation by the physiology of your mind and body. When you sense a threat your mind generates fear and anger.  The fear you generate is part of a flight response from your physiology. Anger is the emotional energy you generate for the fight against that perceived threat.    What can be confusing is that your mind creates fear and anger even when the threat is just imagined.   Emotions like anger are natural and real.  Even if the threat is imagined the anger you create is just as real and powerful. However, the reasons you generate anger aren't always real. If you aren't aware of how your mind is imagining scenarios of hurt your anger will appear irrational.   Real vs. Imagined Anger   It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish a real threat from an imagined threat because they can happen at the same time.  For example, someone is cutting you off on the freeway and a car briefly maneuvers in a way that could cause an accident and possibly injure your body.  There's a natural fight-or-flight reaction to your emotions and you create a combination of fear and anger. The reality of this harm usually passes very quickly and so do your emotions.   However, your imagination may take over and create worse scenarios.  You begin to consider that you or someone in your car might be hurt or killed. You might recall similar events from your past, project those into your mind, and add more emotion.  After the real physical threat passes your mind still projects scenarios in the imagination. Your emotions then respond to those imagined scenarios.   Even later that day when you replay the event in your mind, your emotions respond to the imagined version. The emotions you create from your imagined scenarios are no longer based on anything real.  Because of the natural response of emotions to what you imagine you can amplify fear and anger to the degree that they become out of control. However, fear and anger are natural consequences of the imagined scenarios. The problem is that the imagined scenarios in the mind are out of control and no longer based on reality.   Awareness   If you are not aware of how your imagination is projecting these scenarios you will blame other people unnecessarily for your emotions.  Understanding how your mind dreams images and scenarios of outcome is critical to understanding your anger and other emotions.   The initial moment of fear and anger resulted from a very real scenario that could have caused you harm.  However, most often the anger and fear people generate are sourced from their uncontrolled beliefs and imagination.   Anger is Rational   Anger is the natural emotional response designed to protect us from danger. It is part of our instinctual system for protection and preservation.  Notice how a dog growls and bares its teeth in response to a threat to its territory.  A mother bear will also go into ferocious anger if you were to come near her cubs.  Anger is a force of energy that we project in order to push away or combat a threat.  However, anger ceases to be a form of protecting your life and becomes a means of destroying your life and relationships when the threat isn't real.   Your emotions respond the same whether a threat is real or part of your imagination. Anger itself is a completely rational emotion to have when you perceive the thoughts and scenarios in your mind. There is nothing irrational or wrong with the anger from imagined scenarios and beliefs. Your emotional response system is working properly. The problem is with the thoughts, beliefs, and scenarios in your mind that generate an anger response.  The scenarios the mind projects are often not rational at all.   Other problems are created when you do not have the awareness and willpower to refrain from outbursts of your anger.  These reactions and consequences often distract us from the root cause of the problem.   It's easy to assume that your anger is the problem because it is what you notice.  It is the outbursts of anger that we see and that cause destruction.  The assumptions and interpretations in the mind are less noticeable amidst this emotional drama.  However, your emotions of anger are just a natural response to what the mind imagines.  If you perceive and believe what the mind imagines you will create emotions as a natural response.   If you accidentally touch a hot stove and burn your hand you will feel pain.  Naturally, you would want to pain to stop, but the pain in your hand isn't the problem.  The pain is just a natural response to touching a hot stove.  The physical touch on the stove is less noticeable, but yet it is the real problem.  Touching the hot stove is the cause of that pain. The pain won't go away until you take your hand away from the hot stove.   The same is true for your emotions such as anger.  You may want to stop your anger, but anger is just a reaction to something else. Anger is the natural emotional reaction to what the mind and imagination are doing.  The way to overcome anger is to change how the mind imagines stories and how much you believe them.  When the mind imagines painful scenarios you naturally produce anger.  To reduce and eliminate the danger it is necessary to shift the stories that the mind imagines.   To effectively reduce or eliminate the anger in our life, we can practice changing the core beliefs, assumptions, and interpretations of the mind.    The Reaction to Emotional Pain   Your mind can generate anger and fear even when there's not a physical threat of pain. Your emotional response mechanism can generate anger just as easily by imagining a scenario involving the threat of emotional pain. When your mind is out of control imagining scenarios of emotional pain, your anger goes out of control. For anger to happen the emotional pain doesn't even have to occur. If you just imagine that you will be hurt in the future, you can become angry before anything has happened.   Example of Misplaced Blame   Here's an example to help you understand the anger. Jack and Jill are in a dating relationship and have been for a while. During an evening out to a business party, Jill observes Jack interacting with other women. There is no physical threat or harm to Jill in this situation. There is not even a direct emotional threat. However, through indirect mental scenarios, Jill can still generate fear and anger.   In Jill's mind, she might compare herself to one of the other women Jack is talking to. In that comparison, the voices in her head might conclude that she is not as attractive, not as thin, not as funny, or not as smart. In her mind, she creates a mental image of being less than, or not being good enough in some way.  Jill's mental stories are self-judgments that attack her self-image.  These self-criticisms result in hurtful emotional pain. One of the possible reactions to this type of emotional pain is to create anger to push away the cause.   If Jill isn't aware of how her mind creates self-judgment and emotional harm, she could easily blame Jack.  She might assume that Jack has hurt her feelings by disrespecting or insulting her by giving attention to other women.   Jill notices that Jack is laughing and talking to someone else and that she feels hurts. Her mind draws a simple relationship between Jack's action as the cause and her pain as the effect.   Without awareness, Jill overlooks the emotionally damaging self-judgment her mind created and only notices the trigger of Jack's behavior. In order to push away the cause of her pain, Jill directs her anger at Jack to punish him for his behavior.  Not only could this potentially end the relationship, but it doesn't address the real cause of the pain. Even if Jill goes on to another relationship she will bring her self judgment with her and create her pain again.   Anger In Each Person   There are other possible sources of Jill's anger. Instead of creating a self-rejection, Jill imagines a scenario of Jack running off with someone else. In her mind, she will likely interpret this as a rejection and imagine a scenario in which she will end up alone. By imagining these scenarios and believing they will happen Jill can generate painful emotions of abandonment and loneliness. The natural response to this threat of emotional pain is to create anger as a defense and push the cause away.   Without self-awareness, Jill is likely to misconstrue the cause of her pain. She could make the assumption that Jack's behavior or possible behavior is hurtful and threatening her emotionally.  The result is that she becomes angry at Jack.  Jill might also become angry at other women Jack interacts with depending on her assumptions. . These conclusions ignore the fact that Jill's mind is generating the threatening scenario of abandonment and painful loneliness.  This dynamic of jealousy can completely destroy her relationships and happiness.   With self-awareness, Jill has the opportunity to see that the cause of her pain lies in the stories of her imagination and what she believes about herself. As Jill gains awareness of the core beliefs behind her stories lf and changes them she can overcome the real cause of her anger.   Understand is the first step towards managing. We can't control what we don't understand.   I am curious to learn if these words have been helpful in guiding us to a better understand of anger, and reduce our fear towards it. After all, it is something that can be controlled and changed. :)   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/21/2021

R there other techniques to use when I get angry other then taking some deep breathes and counting?

Anger Management   Halt Method   HALT is the acronym for hungry, angry, lonely and tired — a popular tool used to stop you from acting impulsively and not to get back into the maladaptive behavior that is bad for you. self-care and self-awareness are the most important things that you need to do for yourself. HALT is a technique that makes you stop. It’s an invitation to pause and ask yourself how you are feeling. If you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired it makes you more vulnerable and susceptible to self-destructive behaviors.   H unger is the most obvious manifestation of one of our primary physical needs not being met. Consciously, we all know that proper and regular nutrition is paramount to have a balanced and healthy life. We know what we should be eating, we know what the good choices are — yet we suppress our hunger, we wait until we become so irrational that anything seems to be a good option. Without fulfilling your body’s physical need, it is impossible to be your best self. The answer is to take care of your nutritional needs and eat regularly before your hunger brings out the worst in you. Emotional hunger is another need to fulfill, and it’s more complicated than to have a healthy meal. It is more difficult to pinpoint too. Emotional hunger points toward the need for attention, comfort, companionship. But we have become so self-sufficient that we tend to think that needing others is a weakness. We need others’ company, we need people to understand and listen to us. We need to learn to reach out to people who care about us — otherwise, our emotional hunger will make us make bad decisions. A nger is a healthy, normal emotion — just like all other emotions, it is a signal from your brain, that something is off. Understanding anger and managing it properly without suppressing it is crucial to your mental health. We are taught that anger is bad, therefore we condition ourselves not to express it — for the perception of anger is negative. It takes a lot of self-awareness to recognize anger and even more to express it constructively — without turning it against others or even worse, ourselves. Recognizing the source of our anger is the first step — and in most cases, it is rooted in helplessness or powerlessness when we have a need that we can’t express. Expressing a need, communicating it, negotiating about it is a great start. Breathing, mindfulness techniques, exercise, martial arts, and even journaling can be great ways to deal with our anger. L oneliness is the most controversial state that we can experience. We are more connected than ever, yet we are more isolated than we should be. If you feel lonely, it can be a real situation of isolation or a perceived one. It usually comes from an internal inability of reaching out to others, Isolation can be a coping mechanism, a survival tool that we learned during trauma, or a result of a mental health issue. Either way, self-imposed isolation is something we need to deal with. You need to be aware of your own self-isolation mechanism to stop it — by simply reaching out, surrounding yourself with like-minded people, or even just by noticing that you are not alone, you just think you are. If you seem to have constant difficulty with it, you might want to consider professional help. T iredness can be physical, and the most common occurrence of it is when we ignore our need to take a break, we push ourselves too far and we ignore our bodies’ signs. The solution is getting a good night's sleep, taking a nap, taking breaks from the physical activity that exhausts us — to get back to our rested and relaxed self. Ignoring it for too long can have physical consequences — when our body forces us to rest. This is when we become more prone to illnesses and even burn out. Emotional tiredness is another common phenomenon of our times. We get overwhelmed and overloaded from the busy lives that we are living in. We think that being busy equates to being productive. We think that pushing through is the best solution, even when we are clearly under-performing. The solution seems easy. Taking breaks, allowing ourselves to recover, stepping away from the information overload. And recharging our batteries with activities that we enjoy without the pressure of having to perform.   Additional Anger management tips   1. Learn to breathe When you're angry, you might notice your breathing gets quicker and shallower. One easy way to calm your body and reduce your anger is to slow and deepen your breathing.   Try breathing slowly into your nose and out your mouth. Breathe deeply from your belly rather than your chest. Repeat breaths as necessary.   2. Progressive muscle relaxation Muscle tension is another sign of stress in the body that you may feel when you're angry. To help calm down, you may want to try a progressive muscle relaxation technique. This involves slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle group in the body, one at a time. Consider starting at the top of your head and move your way to your toes, or vice versa.   3. Visualize yourself calm Imagining a relaxing place may help you reduce your anger. Sit in a quiet, comfortable space from your memory and close your eyes for a few moments. Let your imagination flow. As you think of what that relaxing place is like, think about small details. How does it smell or sound? Think about how calm and good you feel in that place.   4. Get moving Besides being healthy for your bodily functions, regular exercise is very effective at reducing stress in the body and mind. Try to get some exercise every day to keep stress and anger at bay. For a quick way to manage anger, go for a brisk walk, bike ride, run. Or do some other form of physical activity when you feel anger growing.   5. Recognize your triggers Usually, people get angry about specific things over and over again. Spend some time thinking about what makes you angry. Make an effort to avoid or deal with those things, if possible. For example, this might involve shutting the door to your child's room when they don't clean it instead of getting angry about the mess. Or it could mean using public transportation instead of driving to work if you're easily angered by traffic.   6. Stop and listen When you're in an angry argument, you might find yourself jumping to conclusions and saying things that are unkind. Making an effort to stop and listen to the other person in the conversation before reacting can help your anger drop and allow you to better respond and resolve the situation. Think carefully before replying. Tell them you need to take a step away if you feel you need to cool down before you continue the conversation.   7. Change your thinking Anger can make you feel like things are worse than they really are. Reduce your anger by replacing negative thoughts with more realistic ones. You can do this by avoiding extreme words, such as "never" or "always," when you think.   8. Other good strategies include keeping a balanced view of the world and turning your angry demands into requests instead.   9. Avoid dwelling on the same things You may rehash the same situation that made you upset over and over again, even if the problem is resolved. This is called dwelling or ruminating. Dwelling allows anger to last and could cause further arguments or other issues. Try to move past the thing that caused your anger. Instead, try to take a look at the positive parts of the person or situation that made you upset.   10. Know your body When you get angry, your body tends to get very excited. Your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing speed, and body temperature may increase. Your body also releases certain stress hormones that put your body on high alert. Pay attention to your body when you're angry. Learn your body's anger warning signs. Next time you feel these warnings, you can step away from the situation or try a relaxation technique     How to do progressive muscle relaxation PMR is an easy technique to do at home. You don’t need any special equipment or gear. All you need is focus, attention, and a quiet spot where you won’t be distracted. The key with this technique is to tense each muscle group and hold for 5 seconds. Then, you exhale as you let your muscles fully relax for 10 to 20 seconds before you move on to the next muscle group. How to do it 1. Start by lying or sitting down. Relax your entire body. Take five deep, slow breaths. 2. Lift your toes upward. Hold, then let go. Pull your toes downward. Hold, then let go. 3. Next, tense your calf muscles, then let go. 4. Move your knees toward each other. Hold, then let go. 5. Squeeze your thigh muscles. Hold, then let go. 6. Clench your hands. Pause, then let go. 7. Tense your arms. Hold, then let go. 8. Squeeze your buttocks. Pause, then let go. 9. Contract your abdominal muscles. Pause, then let go. 10. Inhale and tighten your chest. Hold, then exhale and let go. 11. Raise your shoulders to your ears. Pause, then let go. 12. Purse your lips together. Hold, then release. 13. Open your mouth wide. Hold, then let go. 14. Close your eyes tightly. Pause, then release. 15. Lift your eyebrows. Hold, then release.   Hope this helps!
(LCSW, MSSW)
Answered on 10/21/2021

How can get better with my emotions?

Hello Spidey,   Thanks for sharing your question with Betterhelp. The Betterhelp platform provides online therapy services to help guide its members in understanding their thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. Often times these concerns are impacting our relationships, and our daily functioning. Therapy with Betterhelp is a way to gain further insight into these concerns; gain psychoeducation related to our symptoms; and learn new techniques to support our management of the new behaviors. You stated "it is difficult for me to express how I feel and when I do I explode to those close to me. And I feel regret after because at the moment I do not realize the effects until it is already done". I would first say that an assessment or an initial appointment with a mental health provider is important. This opportunity would allow for you to further explain more about your experiences and behaviors in a safe space. The mental health provider would be able to provide reflective listening, emapthy, and guidance to properly address your needs.   I acknowledge your efforts in reaching out. I understand you are seeking a better understanding of your thoughts and behaviors. As well as how to express your feelings in a healthy way, without exploding. It's also noted that you are aware of how your behaviors impact others. Asking this question suggest that you are seeking support in understanding more about yourself, which is commendable. You may benefit from therapy services to learn and practice techniques of healthy communication and expression. Prehaps, identify triggers and develop new ways of being more expressive, such as, use of "I" statements, journaling/writing, or even use of self-soothing techniques.  I hope you find this response helpful. For next steps in connecting with a mental health professional here on Betterhelp, please visit the website www.betterhelp.com and click on the "Start Therapy" button. Please fill out the short questionnaire to provide some general and anonymous background about you and the issues you'd like to deal with in online therapy. It would help match you with the most suitable therapist. Your answers will also give this counselor a good starting point in getting to know you.   Best Regards, Teisha Levi, LMFT
(MA, LMFT, Author)
Answered on 10/21/2021

How do you deal with abandonment issues

Thanks for reaching out.  This is TOUGH for sure!  I can imagine that abandonment can be causing these feelings of anger and resentment for you.  You didn't ask a specific question, so I will share some insights about abandonment and how it can certainly sabatoge relationships.  These feelings usually begin in childhood.  It doesn't mean that you had bad parents, but might indicate that there were some needs for you that went unmet.  Could have been needs for attention to crying, needing to be consoled, or even being left places (with other family members) and missing your primary carregiver (separation).  In these early years, a person learns how scary or safe the world is.  They learn what it is like to be loved.  They learn how trustworthy others are and they learn if they can trust their own feelings.  When a person's attachment is secure, the person feels loved and confident.  Behaviorally, they will likely feel ok to explore their environment and interact with others.  If the attachment is not secure, the person experiences anxiety.  When this happens, the person (child usually) continues attempts to re-establish a desired physical or emotional proximity to their primary attachment figure until the person wears down.  So....in adulthood, if this continues, a person can wear those around them down, trying to get their needs met.  They become more consumed with that, than how their behaviors are making the other person feel.  People have a hard time meeting the needs of others when they "feel like" their own needs aren't getting met.  Does that make sense? Fear of abandonment is a survival response when a person feels unloved, ineffective or helpless.  All stressors begin to become crises.  It's like anxiety in threat mode.  So.....this abandonment can often lead to co-dependency.  This is where one partner defines their worth based on the other. They often choose relationships where another person needs to be rescued, therby making themselves indespensible.  They can confuse pity with love.  They can often feel trapped in the relationship, but stay to avoid feelings of abandonment.  In these relationships, they are controlling, there is a significant amount of enmeshment (not being able to do things separately) and poor boundaries.   So, if this is what you are experiencing, it is no wonder you feel the anger.  I will also mention that anger is a secondary emotion to something else (usually sadness, disappointment, or even fear) and when left unchecked, it turns into resentment.   You have to begin to ask yourself, what is most important (your values) outside of your child's mother?  Your self worth is not tied to them.  You are a whole person without them in your life.  Who is that?  What behaviors or thoughts lead you closer to your goals as a person and what behaviors or thoughts have continued to lead you further away. You also have to remember that these issues didn't happen just recently, so they will take some time to mend, but with your persistance, they will.  When you begin to consider the amount of time and effort you have put into getting to this place (law enforcement needing to be involved) you can know that you have persistence, fight and ability to stick to things.  Since we know that is true, you can refocus that energy in ways that lead to a happier, healthier, more meaningful life.   If you have insurance, you might look on psychology today and put in your zip code to find a therapist in your area.  If you do not have insurance, you can look at colleges or universities near you.  Most have a counseling department that is open to the public and they operate on a sliding scale so you might be able to see someone for FREE!  It is certainly worth it.  It will also be worth it to your daughter for her father to be at a better emotional place. Just remember, you only have this one life and many opportunities to get it right.  Kiddos grow so fast and they take in so much!  Think of your own childhood.  There were likely a number of things you said and heard that your parents didn't mean for you to.  They are things that have stuck with you and changed your life in some ways (perhaps negatively).  You can change this narrative for your own daughter.  Be a good example for her.  Don't allow the narrative to be chaos and confusion is how guys are supposed to be.  She is watching and listening to you both.  Be the very best version of yourself you can be.  I hope things go well for you on the 4th.  I don't know if you pray, meditate, or say mantras.  But whatever it is that calms you, DO IT and go into the court humbly.  Not making excuses or empty promises, be truthful and forthcoming and most of all - consider what changes you can make for YOU.   Yep, I am starting with you.  and YEP it is selfish!  When you start with you it trickles down to those around you! Be well and who knows, maybe our paths will cross again! Take care of yourself
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 10/21/2021

When can i start sessions?

Dear Wayne,Thank you for your message and helping me understand what you are currently struggling with.Let's understand a bit more about anger.Anger is a response we have when we don't feel understood, don't feel listened to, don't feel respected. At first we might just feel disappointed or irritated, however it escalates often when others add fuel into it by saying words that are hurtful, misunderstanding and dismissive. We then become even angrier and at last we turn our anger into rage.To control anger we must understand how anger works within us. Anger is almost like a volcano when it erupts, it releases a large amount of energy and often is destructive. However these energy is often accumulated for a while before it erupts. If we can understand what accumulates these energy with us, and find ways to release it, then we can be assured that our volcano will not erupt.Anger is the natural emotion created in a fight-or-flight situation by the physiology of your mind and body. When you sense a threat your mind generates fear and anger.  The fear you generate is part of a flight response from your physiology. Anger is the emotional energy you generate for the fight against that perceived threat. What can be confusing is that your mind creates fear and anger even when the threat is just imagined.Emotions like anger are natural and real.  Even if the threat is imagined the anger you create is just as real and powerful. However, the reasons you generate anger aren't always real. If you aren't aware of how your mind is imagining scenarios of hurt your anger will appear irrational.Real vs. Imagined AngerIt can sometimes be difficult to distinguish a real threat from an imagined threat because they can happen at the same time.  For example, someone is cutting you off on the freeway and a car briefly maneuvers in a way that could cause an accident and possibly injure your body.  There's a natural fight-or-flight reaction to your emotions and you create a combination of fear and anger. The reality of this harm usually passes very quickly and so do your emotions.However, your imagination may take over and create worse scenarios.  You begin to consider that you or someone in your car might be hurt or killed. You might recall similar events from your past, project those into your mind, and add more emotion.  After the real physical threat passes your mind still projects scenarios in the imagination. Your emotions then respond to those imagined scenarios.Even later that day when you replay the event in your mind, your emotions respond to the imagined version. The emotions you create from your imagined scenarios are no longer based in anything real.  Because of the natural response of emotions to what you imagine you can amplify fear and anger to the degree that they become out of control. However the fear and anger are natural consequence of the imagined scenarios. The problem is that the imagined scenarios in the mind are out of control and no longer based in reality.AwarenessIf you are not aware of how your imagination is projecting these scenarios you will blame other people unnecessarily for your emotions.  Understanding how your mind dreams images and scenarios of outcome is critical to understanding your anger and other emotions.The initial moment of fear and anger resulted from a very real scenario that could have caused you harm.  However, most often the anger and fear people generate are sourced from their uncontrolled beliefs and imagination.Anger is RationalAnger is the natural emotional response designed to protect us from danger. It is part of our instinctual system for protection and preservation.  Notice how a dog growls and bares its teeth in response to a threat to its territory.  A mother bear will also go into ferocious anger if you were to come near her cubs.  Anger is a force of energy that we project in order to push away or combat a threat.  However, anger ceases to be a form of protecting your life and becomes a means of destroying your life and relationships when the threat isn't real.Your emotions respond the same whether a threat is real or part of your imagination. Anger itself is a completely rational emotion to have when you perceive the thoughts and scenarios in your mind. There is nothing irrational or wrong with the anger from imagined scenarios and beliefs. Your emotional response system is working properly. The problem is with the thoughts, beliefs, and scenarios in your mind that generate an anger response.  The scenarios the mind projects are often not rational at all.Other problems are created when you do not have the awareness and will power to refrain from outbursts of your anger.  These reactions and consequences often distract us from the root cause of the problem.   It's easy to assume that your anger is the problem because it is what you notice.  It is the outbursts of anger that we see and that cause destruction.  The assumptions and interpretations in the mind are less noticeable amidst this emotional drama.  However your emotions of anger are just a natural response to what the mind imagines.  If you perceive and believe what the mind imagines you will create emotions as a natural response.If you accidentally touch a hot stove and burn your hand you will feel pain.  Naturally you would want to pain to stop, but the pain in your hand isn't the problem.  The pain is just a natural response to touching a hot stove.  The physical touch on the stove is less noticeable, but yet it is the real problem.  Touching the hot stove is the cause of that pain. The pain won't go away until you take your hand away from the hot stove.The same is true for your emotions such as anger.  You may want to stop your anger, but anger is just a reaction to something else. Anger is the natural emotional reaction to what the mind and imagination are doing.  The way to overcome anger is to change how the mind imagines stories and how much you believe them.  When the mind imagines painful scenarios you naturally produce anger.  To reduce and eliminate the anger it is necessary to shift the stories that the mind imagines.To effectively reduce or eliminate the anger in our life, we can practice changing the core beliefs, assumptions, and interpretations of the mind. The Reaction to Emotional PainYour mind can generate anger and fear even when there's not a physical threat of pain. Your emotional response mechanism can generate anger just as easily by imagining a scenario involving the threat of emotional pain. When your mind is out of control imagining scenarios of emotional pain, your anger goes out of control. For anger to happen the emotional pain doesn't even have to occur. If you just imagine that you will be hurt in the future, you can become angry before anything has happened.Understand is the first step towards managing. We can't control what we don't understand.I am curious to learn if these words have been helpful in guiding us to a better understand of anger, and reduce our fear towards it. After all, it is something that can be controlled and changed. :)Looking forward to talking with you more,Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/21/2021

Did I do the right thing?

Hello Kat, I'm glad you reached out.  It sounds like you are going through a really rough time right now, and sometimes it can be helpful to talk through these incidents that happen in the heat of the moment.  Having someone you are close to or in a relationship with say something like you are mentally abusive can be obviously very upsetting and hurtful.  When we are feeling upset and hurt, it is no surprise that it will lead to conversations that are heated and possibly even more painful.  When tempers rise up, we are often at our least rational or able to reason through problems fully.   Asking if you did the right thing by ending your relationship is a complicated one.  We can definitely explore it a bit.  Asking yourself some questions, in order to explore your thoughts and feelings on the situation will be an important step to help you through this transition time.  Remember, it is an emotionally raw time for you right now.  They way you feel today will not be the way you feel or react tomorrow, next week, or next month.   Some questions to ask yourself: - When thinking about your relationship in the past few months, what were the happy times like? - How did you work to maintain those happy times prior to the problems starting? - Once the problems started, can you identify what each ofyou did to try to solve it instead of giving up on the relationship? - When you mentioned the thought to end the relationship so you both could get help, what were the signs that lead you to believe at that time that you both needed help or would be possibly better apart?   - What areas do you think would be beneficial for you to work on?   I know these are some tough questions to ask yourself and to process.  You do not need to be alone in this at all.  If you can, make sure to reach out to a friend, family member, someone you trust.  I truly hope that you are able to find resolution and peace with your current situation.  I am here to help you work on these areas as well if you choose. Take care, and I wish you well. 
(LPC, MS)
Answered on 10/21/2021

How do I keep my emotions and mental health in check ?

Vaughn, first of all, thank you for reaching out. I'm glad to be here with you in this question. It never feels good to feel like our emotions are running the show, and that we don't one hundred percent understand why we feel the way we feel. It sounds like there's a lot of frustration in this question; especially when you think about your interactions and relationships to others. It makes sense that being alone feels like safety and comfort, because everytime you are around others, these disruptive emotions come out to play. It almost sounds like you are over-stimulated, over-taxed with social stimuli; others needing things from you, or asking things of you, and the only way to breathe and get your personal time back is by pushing others away so you can have the space you need to re-center and re-ground. I would imagine that pushing others away, even in you don't intend to, feels like you are not in control and thus, the only way to find control again is through pain, to get a sense that you are still alive and still able to make an impact. These are very difficult sensations. When we feel like this, we don't feel like we are fully present in our minds or in our bodies. It's hard to show compassion, love, or care to ourselves because we get stuck in the negative feedback loop that we are unloveable or unworthy of care or love. I would encourage you to take a moment not just for the safety of solitude, but to take a moment to re-ground. To understand what is really going on in our minds, we have to be present to observe what's happening. If we are too distracted by other emotions, tasks, and opinions, we will be stuck in the static, and cannot see ourselves clearly enough to understand where the disruption is coming from. Take time to sit in a quiet room where you know that you will not be distracted, and take at least four deep breaths, breathing in through your nose for 4 seconds, holding for one second, and breathing out through the mouth for four seconds. Make sure to breath from your tummy and not from your shoulders. This tummy breathing will help signal to your body that everything is okay, and that it is okay for you to relax. Once you have completed the deep breathing, simply check in with your 5 senses. What do you see, hear, taste, feel, and smell; list out each physical sensation. Remind your body that you are safe in this room and that nothing can hurt you. This is a small check-in for yourself. It gives your body a moment to re-align and re-affirm safety and peace in a world where we are always just trying to catch up with ourselves. Doing this practice everyday will help to calm the mind enough to figure out what else is happening in our worlds; to gain a little clarity. Once we are able to see ourselves more clearly, we are able to make the proper assessment needed to address the obstacles.  Mindful grounding may feel odd at first, but with practice, the body will start to make the routine a habit and it can feel more natural. I know that there is probably more to the story of this question, but in the mean time; care for yourself by being fully present with yourself. I hope this helps, and I wish you well. 
(LPC, MS, BA)
Answered on 10/21/2021

How do you manage when you see red/rage stage?

Hello Dottie, I'm glad you asked this question, as there is an opportunity here for us to help you improve not just your life but the life of your young child as well. First of all, the fact that you a) recognize that this is happening, b) are actively trying to track and identify your triggers, and c) are actively seeking out support and guidance on a public forum are all points in your favor - they are evidence that you care about yourself, your child, and your relationship with them (of course you do), and that you are willing to do the hard work necessary to improve all of these things.  First, I want to reflect on the idea of "scarring them for life." In my view, this is based in the misguided notion that our actions, particularly toward our children, are irreversible, irreparable, and permanent. While there is some small amount of truth to this, in that we as adults do recall and hold onto memories of painful events from our childhood, the impact is vastly overstated. Janet Lansbury in her book "No Bad Kids" writes that (I'm paraphrasing) kids, especially toddlers, are *always* giving the adults in their lives more opportunities to get it right. If you lose your cool and yell at them one time, or more than one time, rest assured there will be another opportunity (and another, and another) to try to offer a kinder, gentler, and more empathetic response. What's more, it's also not so much about the reaction we as adults have in the moment as it is about what we do afterward to repair; do we offer the child the chance to talk about what happened, and to take responsibility for our part in it and explain why we acted the way we did (just as we so often expect of the child)? The trauma expert Dr. Gabor Mate has said that the experience of not being allowed to talk about the trauma that's happened is far more damaging for children than the experience of the trauma itself (here I am using the term 'trauma' broadly, to include instances when children are made to feel afraid or emotionally unsafe by verbal interaction, a look, lack of attention, etc.).  On this note, it is important to remember that focusing on the relationship with your child, and fostering a secure attachment with them, will always help you in navigating the challenging behaviors you encounter, like not following your instructions or getting distracted. This way, even when you and/or your child get upset with each other, your child knows that you will still protect them and keep them safe, that their behavior will not and cannot jeopardize the connection they have with you. This is a way of building the foundation of a healthy and secure attachment bond, and it can be built and rebuilt at any age. Now let's address your specific question. You're trying to figure out a way to get ahead of your emotional triggers before they take over and you act in a way that you regret. My approach tends toward trying to address underlying issues over quick fixes, though both have their place. So first off, I would be curious to know, what is it about your child not following your instructions or getting distracted that makes you so upset, you think? This might seem like a question with a fairly obvious answer, but I do think it is useful to reflect deeply on the 'why' here. You can think, journal, talk to a therapist about this; don't dwell too much on it, but do give it some attention to help you further understand yourself and your own role in this relationship, and to continue the work you are already doing in understanding yourself and what makes you tick. In addition to this, make sure you are getting enough sleep and rest (easier said than done of course), make sure the foods you're eating are healthy and nourishing to the extent that's possible, make sure you are moving your body or otherwise offloading some of the stresses in your life on a regular basis, and make sure you are taking sufficient time and space for yourself (again, to the extent possible - hard to do with a little one, but not impossible).  As for ways to address your anger in the moment, when you are "seeing red": - Breathe. There are several techniques or ways to breathe to slow your body down and calm your nervous system. "Square breathing" or "box breathing" is one. There are many others that can be found online. Short of that, just taking a single, slow, deep breath - think of a deep sigh - can be just enough to help you re-regulate your system in the moment to help you stop yourself from reacting in a way you don't mean to. - Move your body. Do some action with your body that helps you reorient to the present moment and to the actual level of threat, danger, or anger present. This can include stretching, clenching and unclenching your fists, shaking your hands- these can seem odd to your child, and you certainly don't want to frighten them, but you can explain (and model for them) that this is a healthy way of dealing with stress. This way, by reorienting to your physical body, you remind yourself "I'm safe right now, my kid is safe right now. Although this is frustrating, it is not as urgent as my body and mind are telling me." - Remove yourself from the situation. As long as your child is physically safe and not at risk of imminent danger in the moment, you can walk into another room, saying something like "I just need a few seconds for myself, I'll be right back." Once there, you can utilize some of the tools above to help you respond to your child more in the way you want to. I hope this is helpful. To summarize: the deep and long-term work is on the relationship with your child - making them feel safe, seen, and loved regularly so that they are more likely to do what you ask them to when it's necessary; it also includes reflecting on what's underlying your own triggers, which it sounds like you are already beginning to do, as well as taking care of yourself and making sure your physical/mental/emotional/spiritual needs are being met. In the moment, when you're seeing red, remember to remove yourself from the situation if needed, breathe, and move your body.  Take good care. I wish you and your little one all the best.
(LCSW)
Answered on 10/21/2021