Addiction is not limited to alcohol and illicit substances – it can cover feelings and emotions too. In fact, some people find anger addictive. These individuals – aptly called anger addicts – deal with conflict by criticizing, humiliating, accusing, and attacking other people. Without proper management, they can be controlling – and dangerous. As such, it’s important to know how to deal with an angry addict – especially if it’s you.
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The Dynamics of Anger Addiction
As mentioned, anger addicts use anger to deal with hurt, threats, and feelings of inadequacy.
Unfortunately, anger is a hard emotion to control because of its ability to defend you from danger. After all, anger helps ‘tighten’ up your body. It puts you in fight or flight mode by flooding your circulation with adrenaline. As a result, your heart contracts faster, your vessels constrict, and your muscles clench.
Anger also helps a person dissipate shame, depression, and disappointment.
At the same time, anger provides a sense of power and superiority. It also helps release tension – giving the individual a unique sense of ‘high’.
Addicts often use anger to protect themselves from hurtful thoughts and actions. In other words, it can make the addict feel safer.
In the end, anger is a good way to keep people away – especially if the addict suffers from a fear of emotional intimacy.
How to Deal with an Angry Addict
If the anger addict agitates you, don’t respond with the same emotion. Instead, you should try and relax by taking some slow breaths – then count to ten.
Remember, reacting impulsively only makes you weak. Whenever you find yourself wanting to lash out with anger, concentrate on your breaths. Although you may still feel a bit upset, you will end up the calm person in charge of the situation.
2. Restrain Yourself
Avoid responding to the anger addict if you feel angry yourself. If not, you may end up saying something that you won’t be able to take back.
3. Let it Go
In martial arts, you can best find your balance by taking a deep breath first. After all, this can help transform the energy of the person (in this case, the anger addict). Rather than resisting the strong emotions, it’s better to relax and be as neutral as possible.
That being said, avoid arguing with the anger addict by defending yourself. This will help the anger flow just right through you – instead of at you.
3. Acknowledge the Addict
To deal with anger addicts effectively, you must try and weaken their façade. If not, they will just try to infuriate you even more. Since defensiveness can affect the flow of anger, it is essential to acknowledge the addict’s position even if it’s very offensive.
A good way to do so is to say “I see why you feel that way. My concern is similar to yours. However, I propose a different way to dealing with this problem.”
Remember, acknowledgment is key to keeping the communication lines open – all the while promoting compromise.
4. Set Your Limits
Now that you’re communicating with the anger addict, it’s time to state your case. For example, you can ask for a small yet achievable change that can address your needs. Don’t forget to explain why it’s beneficial for both of you.
Since tone can make or break the conversation, you need to be calm yet firm.
For example, you can say: “I love you but I feel hurt whenever you’re angry. We need to work this out so we can communicate with each other better.”
After doing so, you can try to discuss a possible solution.
If the addict continues to be angry, then it’s time for you to limit your contact. Explain the consequences of his/her action by saying “I won’t see you until you stop being angry with me.”
Another good thing to do is to observe selective listening, where you don’t take into consideration all the aspects of the addict’s tirade. To do so effectively, you should focus on something positive and calming.
5. Empathy is Key
Put yourself in the anger addict’s shoes. Try to ponder why he or she is so angry. Take a few minutes to reflect on the reasons where this behavior comes from. While this is no excuse for the addict to act poorly, it can give you the compassion to understand why he or she feels that way. Doing so can also help you avoid resentments and other ill emotions.
What if You’re the Angry Addict?
If you find yourself being a slave to anger, these tips may help you manage your pent-up feelings:
1. Admit Your Issues
The first step of dealing with the problem is acknowledging it. As the Alcoholics Anonymous mantra has always said, you need to recognize your powerlessness – and seek help for it. More than just being honest, you should try not to include your pride in the equation.
2. Talk About Your Anger
Your pent-up feelings may be one of the reasons why you lash out in anger. Because of this, it’s important to talk about this to somebody who can sympathize/empathize with your situation. Talk and talk until you feel that you have unloaded all of your frustrations. Although this is the case, you should be cautious enough not to yell or scream at the other person.
3. Try Journaling
If talking to people is your waterloo, you can try and diffuse your anger through journaling. By pouring your heart out through writing, you’ll be able to manage your anger better.
Holding on to a certain grudge may cause you to blow up in anger. While what these people did may be frustrating, you need to be the bigger person and let go. Not only is this good for your mental health, but it’s also physically good for you. Don’t forget: immense anger can lead to headaches, high blood pressure, digestion issues, even eczema.
Dealing with an angry addict is not easy. But with awareness and restraint, you will be able to communicate with the person – and break down his or her barriers.