Your “feeling bad” may be Dysphoria.

By David Joel Miller.

Dysphoria – the feeling bad problem.

Unhappy

Dysphoric.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Sometimes you just feel bad. Many times, people feel bad but can’t describe what that feeling is. Ask someone at random how they feel, and the most common answers will be, good, bad, or angry. Some of this stems from the bad reputation feelings have received. Many people go to great lengths to avoid any negative feelings. When you tried to avoid negative feelings, it’s no surprise that when you do feel bad, you have difficulty identifying that feeling and giving it a name.

You may have been labeled dysphoric without your knowledge.

If you have been to see a professional because you were “feeling bad” but you didn’t know the specific reason, the professional may have written down somewhere in your file that you were “dysphoric.”

When you’re under stress, the chemicals your nervous system produces are felt widely throughout your body. Panic attacks can feel like a heart attack. Depression can leave you exhausted, lacking the energy to get out of bed. A high percentage of clients who experienced these symptoms go to the medical doctor first. Which is not a bad idea. You need to rule out a medical issue. Sitting and talking to your counselor during your heart attack could be fatal.

Once your medical Doctor has ruled out immediate, life-threatening illnesses, you may be referred to see a psychiatrist, counselor, or therapist. Seeing a counselor does not mean you are crazy. What it tells us is that your nervous system has been sending out chemicals alerting the body to an emotional crisis. The result is an episode of dysphoria.

Is dysphoria a mental illness?

Dysphoria is a term that goes back to the days of Freud. Back then someone was either diagnosed with psychosis, that meant you were crazy, or neuroses which largely meant you were struggling with the problems of living. I have seen the term dysphoria in a lot of the older literature from the fields of psychology and psychoanalysis. Today professionals use the DSM-5 to diagnose mental illness. The DSM lists about 400 different varieties of mental illnesses. Dysphoria can be an underlying symptom of many of these illnesses, but it is not one specific disorder.

No client has ever told me they felt dysphoric. But I’ve heard that they “feel bad” plenty of times. I have seen the word dysphoria on assessment forms several times, usually as a checkbox for a feeling the client might be having. As my students have heard, I think of a good assessment as more than just checking the boxes and filling out a form.

To help someone who is “feeling bad” the counselor needs to examine that feeling, identify the specific feelings involved and ideally match them up with a specific mental, emotional, or behavioral problem.

What exactly is dysphoria?

OxfordDictionaries defines dysphoria as “a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life. The opposite of euphoria.” Some words are easiest to define by saying that they are the opposite of something else. Unfortunately defining dysphoria by saying it’s the opposite of euphoria is not much help.

The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, from 1889, gets us closer to a useful definition. I think this is an important point, when you are reading books which were written a long time ago, Freud and Jung, even the psychoanalysts who wrote before the DSM Four, it’s important to ask what the words meant to them. The English language has always been in a state of change.

The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia defines dysphoria as; pain hard to be borne, anguish, impatience under affliction, a state of dissatisfaction, restlessness, fidgeting, or inquietude.

In Psychology dysphoria generally means one of 3 things.

Martin Seligman in his book What You Can Change and What You Can’t begins with the idea of dysphoria and then breaks it down into three specific negative emotions. I would highly recommend this book by the way. One point he makes here is that to date there is no medication which cures any mental illness. At the time he wrote this book; he listed 14 mental illnesses that could be effectively treated, cured, or greatly reduced, using specific forms of talk therapy. I’m inclined to think in the years since he wrote this book other therapies have proven effective for additional mental and emotional disorders.

Anxiety can look like a physical illness.

Anxiety disorders are the “great pretenders.” During episodes of anxiety, the thoughts in the brain mobilize the body for flight or flight activities. Anxiety reduces a lot of physical symptoms in your body and is frequently mistaken for a physical illness.

Professionals split anxiety disorders into a number of specific types. Most are temporarily manageable with medication, but when the medication wears off the anxiety returns worse than before. Therapy of several varieties, coupled with relaxation techniques and life skills training can greatly reduce the levels of anxiety.

Recently, trauma and stressor-related disorders such as PTSD were separated from the Anxiety Disorders. These problems have added symptoms such as nightmares and flashbacks. There are treatments for these disorders, but those treatments are very different from the ones used for anxiety.

Depression comes in many varieties.

Professionals categorize depression more by the physical symptoms you experience than by the cause of the depression. Some types of depression have a specific cause, and others don’t. Many of the symptoms of depression look like those of physical illness. Changes in appetite, eating either too much or too little, can all be part of depression. Changes in sleep are also an element of depression. Some people, when depressed, experience significant fatigue. Depressed people may take to bed and feel too tired to get up. Underlying depression is the loss the ability to experience happiness. Some people can feel a few bursts of pleasure, but the temporary pleasant sensation quickly fades.

Anger and irritability are often components of dysphoria.

When someone doesn’t feel well, they are out of sorts, they become irritable and push others away. Some people feel “bad” and experience a lot of anger. Neither anger nor irritability is considered a specific mental illness, but they may be symptoms of several mental health challenges.

It would be wonderful if there were specific blood tests or x-rays that would determine that the physical symptoms you have are the result of dysphoria and could be identified as one specific mental illness. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. First, you need to see a medical Doctor to rule out physical illness. Next, you would see a counselor who would talk to you about your symptoms. Based on the number and severity of symptoms you would get a specific diagnosis.

Treatment should be tailored to you and your particular symptoms. Therapy is not something the counselor should do to you. Therapy is something the counselor and client do together. As a result of counseling, you should learn skills and new ways of thinking that will help you manage dysphoric feelings and learn to increase the number of positive feelings you experience.

If you have been feeling bad, one or more of the dysphoric feelings, please consider getting help.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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Do you have anger issues?

By David Joel Miller.

When should you seek counseling for your anger issues?

Anger

Anger
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Anger and “anger issues” are one of the more common problems that result in people calling my office for a counseling appointment. Having anger building up inside you can harm you. All those excess stress hormones are really hard on your heart and other organs.

But anger, an excess of that stuff, can also damage relationships with family, friends and those you work with. Untreated anger issues may result in the police being called and you going to jail. Excess anger also results in lost jobs and in divorces.

In extreme cases, too much anger will get you locked up and court-ordered to 26 weeks of anger management classes or 52 weeks of batterer’s treatment classes. Out of control anger can make a mess out of your life.

That must mean that anger is one of the more common and major mental illnesses, right? Wrong.

Despite all the problems an excess of anger can bring it is not recognized as a mental illness. Say what? Yes, you read that right. We think anger, rather than being any one specific mental or emotional illness is a “secondary” emotion. That is you are feeling one thing but you end up expressing this other feeling as anger. When hurt, emotionally or psychically hurt, many of us express this as anger.

Regardless of what is causing your anger or why you are angry, counseling can help you tame that anger beast.

There are several reasons you might need to go for some anger management counseling.

  1. You do not like the person you become when you are angry.

If your anger is bothering you then it is time to see a counselor. This is true of a whole lot of other unpleasant or negative emotions. You do not need to be mentally ill to seek out counseling. If you do things when angry, sad or anxious you would not do otherwise, that is a bad sign. Just having to live with that anger all the time can make you miserable.

Some of you are thinking that you are in a situation where another person is always “making you angry.” Do not let that stop you from seeking help. You can learn ways to turn the volume down on your anger so you become less angry and angry less often or your counselor may help you with some life coaching to change the situation so that you are not going to get your anger triggered.

  1. Your anger is interfering with your relationships.

Any time an emotional, mental or behavioral issue interferes with your relationships with family and friends that need attention. This may be an indication of a mental illness or it may just be stress. Either way, you need help for anything that is damaging your relationships.

Humans need other people. Having a good group of supportive people around you improves the quality of your life. Do not let anger drive your friends and family away and leave you unsupported.

  1. Anger is affecting your work or schooling.

If you miss work or get in trouble on the job because of anger or other emotional flare-ups, this means that your feelings are a problem that needs attention.  If you are not working but are in school then we consider going to school and doing your homework your job. Wish I could convince kids who tell me they don’t want to go to school, that school is their job and if they can’t do that one they may need to work on their being homeless skills.

  1. Your anger has interfered with other things you used to like to do.

If you used to play softball or go bowling but because of your anger and fights you got into you can’t go there any more than your anger has been and continues to be a problem. Letting anger or any other emotional issue cut you off from things that make you happy is a bad idea. Life should be more than working and suffering. Try restructuring your life to make it a life worth living.

That is the short list, you may think of other reasons you need to go see a counselor or life coach. Just remember you do not need to wait until your problems become serious mental illnesses before you seek help. Have you put up with anger for longer than you need to? Is it time for you to get some help, learn some skills, to get that anger creature out of your life?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Who taught you about anger?

By David Joel Miller.

How do you know what you know about anger?

Angry Man

Angry Man
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Long before you went to school and learned to read and write you learned a bunch of lessons about how the world was. Some of those lessons were about feelings, anger in particular. Did you have good feelings teachers? Did you get those lessons right?

Thinking back to your childhood and how you came to think and believe the things you do can be a happy experience for some people. Others feel that those early life lessons left scars. What you learned about anger at a young age is one lesson you may want to take another look at. If thinking about your early life experiences is painful and difficult, then you are a candidate for counseling or some other personal growth experience.

What are your earliest life memories of anger?

Early life experiences shape personality development. Many of these memories are pictures of what happened or feelings about these happenings rather than the sort of stories we older people tell about these memories.

Do you have strong gut reactions to seeing others angry? How does experiencing others anger affect you now? Are you “freaked out” if someone is angry? Some people learned to avoid anger and feeling angry, others learned that when angry they should “let it all hang out.”

As a child do you remember being angry? What happened when you got angry? Did your needs get met or did you learn to hide that anger?

Infants and young children develop anger spontaneously when their needs are not met or they are frustrated. They quickly learn how they must express these needs to get what they require. Some people learn that others may express anger but they are not allowed to do so. If you learned rules about anger and how to express it as a young child this may be affecting your ability to cope productively with those feelings.

How did those you grew up around express their Anger?

Some families had the unwritten rule that anger or other strong emotions were not to be expressed, ever, under any circumstance. Other families were constantly acting out anger in a variety of ways.

For some people, anger was expressed by cursing or vulgar gestures. Did you adopt those ways of expressing anger and those expressions have become, for you automatic? You may find yourself saying things and doing things when upset or angry that you had not planned to do.

Who was allowed to express anger, who could not?

Was one person allowed to express their anger and others were not? Some families have one person who carries the anger for the whole family. The rest of the family members lives revolve around not making the angry person angry.

If you had a family culture where one person was the angry one you may have perpetuated that system in your relationships or the family you have created. Is that working for you or would you like to change the way anger is allowed to be a member of your family?

How did they express anger?

Families develop rules for how and when anger can be expressed. We often hold on to those rules when we leave out family of origin and then try to make those behavior patterns fit our new relationships. For some anger can be expressed directly, this is what is making me mad. Or it may be expressed more indirectly. There could be yelling and screaming or the silent treatment and stonewalling.

If your life is full of throwing and breaking things it is time for a change. If you or someone in your household has a pattern of leaving when angry this may be keeping you from every finding solutions to the conflicts.

Productive anger management may require time outs when one person becomes overheated but those exchanges also require setting a time to reconnect and work on solving those problems.

Did you learn gender roles in anger expression?

Many people arrive at therapy with a set of rules in their head about how people should fill their life roles. Do you think there are ways men express anger? Are those “male” anger behaviors different from those of women? Should the two sexes express their emotions differently?

Do you expect men and women to express their anger differently?

Are your disagreements win-lose situations or can people disagree?

Healthy families have some rules that are must-haves. The parents must set boundaries that are firm. As a parent, you probably should tell your kids that drugs are not allowed. But there are other things, politics, and religion where an absolute need for everyone to agree might be more optional.

Ask yourself can you allow other family members to disagree about things? Do you feel threatened when they don’t agree with you? Are there things you learned early in life that may not be working for you anymore?

Reexamine how and what you have learned about anger and decide for yourself if there are things about anger and your relationship to that anger that need changing.

For more on anger and anger management check out the other Anger Posts on counselorssoapbox.com.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Anger triggers – What gets you angry?

By David Joel Miller.

What things set off your anger?

Anger

Anger
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Some people are chronically angry, many things set them off. Others have a relative few things that result in feelings of anger. Becoming one of those people who rarely gets angry and manages their anger well is possible but it takes some work.

Learning to cope with anger involves recognizing anger when it comes to visit, becoming aware of the things that increase your chances of being angry and then learning control strategies to turn the “thermostat” on your anger down.

Many things may be “triggers” for making someone angry. In substance abuse work we spend a lot of time on learning to manage triggers to drink and use. For people with lots of anger or other emotional issues, learning your triggers is important as well.

Some authors define triggers as external events that may be the cause of your anger. I am used to thinking of triggers as being either external, situations or people I encounter, or internal, what is going on in my body and my mind. I have roughly divided some reported triggers into these two groups. You may find that there are other very personal triggers for your anger that are not on my lists.

See how many of these fit you and then do some “field research” in your own life, looking for the things that are triggering your anger. Some of these triggers may be real threats to you or your family and friends. Other triggers may be things most of us would call minor but for you, they just “set you off.” Identifying your triggers can help you plan responses for the future.

External Anger Triggers – People, Places, and Things.

These are things that happen to you, others do or events that upset you.

Facing a real threat physically or financially.

Being verbally or physically attacked or assaulted.

Being put down or disrespect in front of others.

An interruption to your plans.

Frustration at things that get in your way.

Financial losses or difficulties.

People who do things we believe are ethically or religiously wrong.

Unfair situations or treatment.

Things being out of our control.

People lie to you or let you down.

Having your things taken or damaged by others.

Having long waits or standing in lines.

Traffic or people getting in your way.

Crowds.

People talking about you.

Not being paid what you are owed.

People saying bad things about you.

Being accused of things you didn’t do.

People who do not clean up after themselves.

Being given wrong information or directions.

Internal Triggers for anger.

Sometimes it is the things going on inside of you that can trigger anger or other negative emotions.

Lack of sleep

Being hungry or thirsty.

Having your mind occupied with problems.

Negative emotions, anxiety, depression.

Feeling physically ill or having health problems.

Being lonely.

Feelings of guilt or shame.

Believing that you are not good enough or unworthy of good things.

Not liking yourself.

How many of these things, either external people, places or things or internal states are triggers for your anger, anxiety or other emotional issues? Once you recognize what is setting your anger off you may be able to work on reducing the impact of those triggers and avoiding the negative consequences of out of control anger.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Manage Anger by recognizing it – the Anger Cues.

By David Joel Miller.

How would you know when you’re angry?

Anger

Anger
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Controlling anger is a problem for many people. Learning to recognize anger when you see it, find ways to avoid or reduce your anger and then to not anger yourself in the first place can all help improve your health and your relationships.

Whether you have been required to learn about anger, someone you know has an anger problem or you want to find ways to reduce and control your anger, there are techniques that will prove helpful. Less anger can also have positive health benefits.

If you have difficulty with your anger let’s start on a crash course in how to recognize the anger monster when he rears his head.

Anger causes physical changes – Your body tells you about anger.

Your body often responses to rising levels of anger way before you realize that anger is the feeling you are having. Think for a moment about how you experience anger and how you see it in others.

Do you feel hot or flushed? Does your blood pressure rise? Are their sudden onsets of “stress” headaches after which you discover you are feeling angry and resentful towards someone?

Changes in heart rate and in breathing are common as the body prepares for the flight or fight reaction that follows anger and hostility. Increasing anger also can trigger higher levels of anxiety in people with anxiety disorders. These fear, anxiety, and anger caused changes result in more blood flow to the muscles and less to things like digestion and rational thinking.

High anger is well-known to cause violence towards others but recently it has been recognized as a cause of self-harm also. Angering yourself, regardless of the provocation, can result in impairment of your physical health.

The result of anger is a flooding of the nervous system with stress hormones resulting in physical problems including, headache, digestion problems, abdominal pain, insomnia, skin problems, such as eczema, heart attack, stroke and many others. Not only does high levels of anger increase your risk of heart disease, anger can impede the healing process if you have suffered heart damage.

Anger can increase your blood sugar levels, especially a problem for those with diabetes. Another common reaction to anger is to begin to sweat. Uncontrolled anger can reduce your immunity and increase the risk of getting colds or flu. Some research has shown correlations between high levels of anger and cancer.

For people in recovery from substance abuse or mental health issues, anger can be a trigger for relapse. If you are in recovery or have uncontrolled anger, the cost of that anger, whether you show it or not can be unbearably high.

Watch for these physical changes in your body and you will make progress in recognizing the things that trigger your anger.

For more on the medical aspects of anger see:

WebMD

Better Health Chanel from State Government of Victoria.

Behavioral cues – Your anger autopilot.

Notice where your body goes without you during an anger episode. You may find that long before you realize you are getting angry you have clenched your fists, changed your body posture or had other automatic physical reflexes.

Pacing and wandering aimlessly may also be signs that anger is taking control of you. You may suddenly realize you have been staring off into space or otherwise zoning out. Many people when angry, find their voice has risen to extremely loud volumes without them being aware they are raising their voice.

Slamming doors, throwing things are also common manifestations of anger. You may begin to act badly even before you are aware you are angry. Some of these reflexes are biological but others have been learned based on how you learned about anger and how your anger experiences have unfolded as you grew.

Learning to spot these behavioral cues can make you an expert in recognizing the Anger monster.

Anger brings other emotions along for the ride – fear, hurt, jealousy, disrespect.

Anger overlaps and cohabitates with many other negative emotions. When you are angry you may also become fearful, anxious or begin having cravings for drugs or alcohol.

This coupling of emotions works in both directions. Anger triggers other negative emotions and those other emotions, especially pain, hurt and loneliness, can trigger angry feelings. Just before you became angry what feeling were you feeling? Jealousy, rejection, feelings of being put down or disrespected can all trigger an angry response. If your anger was preceded by feelings of guilt, shame or humiliation you may need to work on those other feelings to reduce the role of anger in your life. Frustration or impatience can trigger anger episodes.

Anger can also be a trigger for other mental health issues from dissociation to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

Anger hijacks your brain – self-talk, pictures in your head, plans of revenge.

What you look for you get more of. Angry people are constantly on their guard watching for signs they are being criticized. Is someone comments on the things you do are you taking it as devaluing you and your actions?

Once the thought storm begins to build do you see insults and injury everywhere? Do you work yourself up into a lightning storm looking for someone to fry? Many episodes of anger are preceded by a storm of thoughts, rumination, about why people shouldn’t do or must do this or that. If you begin to believe that everything people around you do has something to do with you the anger will rise.

Have you seen changes in yourself as the anger rises? Watching for these cues help you spot anger and work to tame this beast before your anger damages your life.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

How angry is too angry?

By David Joel Miller.

Does your anger get out of control?

Anger

Anger
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

People with an anger management problem seem to have only one setting on their anger control.

The anger is either off or it is on. This leaves them with only two settings,

I think I am not angry and I am boiling over with anger. Those boil overs are what gets them in trouble.

Learning to recognize you are getting angry helps avoid boil overs.

A first step in learning to regulate your anger is to install an anger thermometer in your brain. Having this anger thermometer in place helps you monitor how angry you are and what is causing that anger temperature to rise.

Ever notice that in the summer a room that is 68 degrees Fahrenheit ( 20 degrees Celsius)  seems refreshingly cool, maybe even downright chilly if you just came in from outside where it was 100 F ( 37.8 C) In the winter that same room may seem hot if you just came in from outside where it was below freezing?

The same sort of thing happens with anger. When you are tired, have not slept well, are hungry or thirsty, you are more likely to become angry. Small irritations can set someone off when they do not feel well. Failing to recognize what you are feeling and to respond appropriately can also result in anger flare-ups. Mad, as in anger, can often just be sad in disguise.

These things will reduce your ability to control anger.

Alcohol use and abuse or drug misuse can also reduce your inhibitions and make small anger problems into serious events. Unresolved problems in one area of your life, financial or relationship issues can pop up as anger over things that might not otherwise set you off.

Rumination, that repetitive thinking about the same thing over and over, can also heat up your emotions to the vapor point. By rumination I am not referring to evaluating past actions or events to learn from them, what we mean by rumination is that habit we humans have to keep chewing on things that bother us until they make us sick. Rumination is an exercise in creating and maintaining unhelpful thoughts. More on rumination and its role in creating emotional problems is coming up in other counselorssoapbox posts.

How will you measure anger?

Begin your exploration of your anger feelings by creating a scale that works for you. Some people use a temperature scale. Other people find it more helpful to use a scale of zero to ten or zero to one hundred. Having created this Anger scale, begin to take periodic readings of how angry you are at any given moment.

It may be helpful to take your anger reading at the same time each day. Pay special attention to times you notice anger beginning. What was happening just before you felt your anger rise? Try taking your anger reading every day when you rise and when you go to bed. Do you wake up in a grouchy mood or does your mood get worse as the day progresses?

A further refinement to this scale would be to list some words for feelings related to anger and then try to arrange them on a scale from least angry to most angry. Is irritated the same as angry? Is strong anger enraged but moderate anger annoyed? Adding these other feeling words allows you to develop a range of feelings you could be having between not angry and violently boiling-over angry.

The goal of this effort is to learn to measure your anger so that later in the anger management process you can install an anger thermostat in your brain that allows you to turn the anger up or down at will. Most people have little difficulty angering themselves up but learning to keep the anger on low or even turn it off at will, that is a valuable skill.

Clues that anger is growing.

All this anger regulation stuff works if you are able to recognize your anger as it ebbs and flows. But if you find that you did not know you were getting angry and then suddenly you are boiling mad how can we help that?

Think about your past experiences with anger. Have you ever noticed someone becoming angry? They may have given off clues by their behavior or their body language before that anger outburst occurred. There may have been changes in their behavior or language.  In an upcoming post, I want to make some suggestions about how you might recognize that anger in others and in yourself before you hit the boiling point.

What kind of relationship do you have with your anger? Does it keep danger away or does it harm your relationships? Maybe a little of both? Stay tuned for more posts on Anger and how to tame that be

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

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Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.