6 Steps to Managing Anger in Recovery


Sober Recovery Expert Author

There’s nothing like a temper tantrum to let all your feelings out but, not surprisingly, it also leaves a trail of broken relationships, disturbed sleep, increased anger, and a possible return to your old habits. Suppressing your anger is also not ideal. Your anger festers and the stress it puts you through may cause illness, depression, and obsessive behavior. Instead, anger needs positive release.

Here are 6 steps to help you release your anger safely and productively.

Temper tantrums can leave a trail of broken relationships, disturbed sleep and a possible return to addiction. These eight steps can help you diffuse your anger more productively.

1. Absorb your anger.

When your anger hits you, acknowledge it but don’t do anything about it right away. This way you don’t end up saying or doing something you may regret later. Instead, let your anger permeate your being first. Then, take deep breaths to a count of 10 and feel the tension ease.

Relaxation techniques such as meditation, visualization, acupuncture, and yoga can calm your mind. Even just drinking a glass of water or going for a long walk can also help you think things through and deal with your anger in a sensible manner. You may also join an anger management class if you want to see how others manage their anger. As you achieve overall relaxation, you’ll begin to figure out ways to control your reactions, which can also help you progress in your recovery.

2. Get to the heart of the matter.

The best route for dealing with your anger is to think backward. Why has this particular incident got you hot and bothered? Do you have unresolved issues with the other person? Are you bored with your recovery? Are you frustrated at its slow pace? Try to keep a diary close by and jot down all associated emotions. Monitor yourself in this way so you can better identify the elements of your anger that are exclusively about you and those that point directly to your opponent. It’s a great exercise in honesty and when done well, can help lessen the force of your current anger.

3. Prepare to face external issues.

Once you’ve identified the elements of your anger that actually has to do with your opponent, it is time to have a face-to-face conversation with this person to express your feelings.

Know your talking points and try to anticipate the other person’s possible responses. If you have to, practice beforehand so you can cover all possible scenarios and be able to speak with confidence. Aim to use non-threatening language. Perhaps you could start your sentence with “I feel frustrated when you…” This way, you focus on how you felt, instead of pointing out the other person’s shortcomings. Starting with the word “I” rather than “you” shows that you are being assertive without being aggressive or accusatory, thus leaving the channels of communication open. Be careful not to appear whiney, embarrassed, or apologetic as your opposite number will not take you seriously.

4. Keep it relevant.

You may have a long list of grievances against your attacker and it can be tempting to get everything off your chest in one session. However, throwing a storm of accusations at someone is the surest way to close and lock down communication. Just stick to the issue at hand and be objective. It is possible that you’ve caused the other person hurt and anger too.

5. Learn to self-articulate.

Look at anger management as an opportunity to express yourself better. You might botch your first attempt but you’ll get better with practice. For example, you may have used an accusatory tone instead of an assertive one, resulting in a slinging match. But with more and more practice, you will learn to achieve the tone that gets you better results. At the same time, you’ll end up avoiding toxic situations that can fuel your anger.

6. Heal yourself.

Your goal is to feel better after your verbal exchange. By maintaining your calm, you may get the other to admit to wrongdoing and promise not to repeat it again. You and this other person may even get along better after this. If it’s apparent that you’ve overreacted, some kind of admission is required on your part as well, so you can clear the air. If you find that you have overreacted due to a problem involving your recovery, remember that you’ll have to address the issue or you’ll wind up finding yourself react the same way again.

For those who are in recovery, understanding how to manage anger is an essential part of the process. It makes it easier for you to deal with your emotions, lessens stressful situations, and turns your day-to-day progress into a more rewarding experience.

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