Everyone gets angry from time-to-time. There is nothing wrong with feeling and expressing anger. However, many people in recovery have trouble recognizing anger and expressing it appropriately.
Anger in Early Recovery
Newcomers to recovery often describe their emotions as raw and intense. If this sounds like you, it gets better. This too shall pass. Much of the intensity of your emotions in early recovery has to do with getting sober. Your body is re-balancing chemicals after a time you were using substances constantly. You’re also not used to feelings. Addiction helped you drown a lot of your negative feelings out.
After a few months sober, you’ll start to see the world differently. The effects of the substances you were ingesting will basically be wearing off. You may find you’re no longer so angry or moody in general.
After you’ve gotten a little sober time under your belt, your emotions will start to stabilize. But some people have trouble managing their anger. Do you blow up easily? Are you constantly feeling frustrated? Have you hit or punched things or threatened people when you were angry?
Are You an “Angry Person? How to Change
If this sounds like you, then you probably need some help with anger management. Lots of people have trouble expressing their anger in a healthy way. Luckily, there are tools available to help you vent successfully:
- Recognize what anger feels like for you. Does your pulse race? Do you feel yourself getting hot? Practice recognizing these symptoms so that you can have a plan to interrupt the anger cycle.
- Practice “defusing” when you’re angry. When you feel yourself snowballing into anger, give yourself five minutes to cool off. That may mean going for a quick box or shadowboxing in another room. It could also mean spending ten minutes or so meditating in a quiet place. Learn what tools help you feel less angry.
- Learn to use nonviolent communication. When you’re upset, don’t blame the other person. Focus on your feelings and use “I” when you’re speaking. For example, “I get scared when you don’t text me back. I sometimes think you’re dead!” is something you may say to your kid. Don’t blame. Instead, search for solutions that will keep you from getting upset in the future.
- Anger is healthy. But don’t let it take over your life or ruin your day. Let yourself be angry for a few minutes. Figure out a healthy way to express that anger. Then let yourself put it aside for later.
If you’re having trouble expressing your anger, ask for tips from your support network, sponsor, or therapist. There are a lot of different ways people cope with their anger. Just make sure you do no harm with your new coping method. (Smashing up somebody’s car is not a way to manage your feelings, for example!)
Consider Sober Living
Sober living is an opportunity to live in a small, peaceful community of others who share the same goals and values. Start your journey in recovery in a structured environment that helps you stay grounded. Call us for more information at 760-216-2077.