Coping With Anger in Recovery

Coping With Anger in Recovery

Recovery can be filled with all kinds of powerful emotions. As we make the switch from substance use, and behaving as people filled with overwhelming and compulsive behaviors to people who have more control over our impulses and emotions, we can also learn to cope with our anger. As we gain more control over our emotions and are able to cope with our anger, we will feel more empowered and in control of our lives.

Before the Anger

One of the best ways to cope with anger is to practice self-care before there are even opportunities to be angry. When we wake up, we can be aware of how our bodies are feeling, and prepare for our day by using meditation, prayer, practicing gratitude, or other methods of helping us feel focused and calm. These practices help us to be aware of our bodies and our emotions and help us to start the day grounded and self-aware.

As we go throughout the day, we can do things such as practice mindfulness, meditate, eat healthy, and observe what we are thinking without judgment. We can set healthy boundaries with other people in our lives to prevent being overloaded with frustration. We are also able to create the expectation of responding constructively if we feel anger in any situation. By practicing good self-care in advance and being aware of what we are feeling in the here and now, we can gain insight into our feelings before the anger happens.

Honor Your Feelings

We all have feelings, they are the way we naturally respond to what is happening around us. They tell us whether we are okay with our lives, or whether we are comfortable or not comfortable with what is happening around us. Anger can be perceived as “bad” or “negative,” but actually, it is one of the primary emotions that lets us know that we have stress about something.  

If we deny or resist the anger, we can potentially have more anger, and also less control over our response to such a powerful emotion. Anger is actually healthy, it is whether or not we cope with it and how we react to it that becomes unhealthy. It is important to acknowledge the emotion, to honor it, and then determine our response to it.

Constructive Responses

When we respond to our anger in constructive ways, we give ourselves the opportunity to gain respect, become more valued, be more socially connected. We are also able to feel peace, comfort, and acquire more courage to be emotionally independent. 

We can still be authentic and acknowledge our anger, but also react with loving kindness toward ourselves and others. This is done by effectively communicating our feelings without turning to sarcasm, shame, or other reactive responses. We can be brave enough to offer appropriate compensation or amends when applicable, and we can refrain from judging our emotions, ourselves, or others when we are experiencing anger.

Destructive Responses

Responding to our anger in destructive ways causes us to feel uncomfortable in this emotion. We might also feel more shame, guilt, remorse, embarrassment, or feel marginalized because of our response to our anger. This could also lead to feeling less socially connected, and feeling resentment, as well as being resented. When we respond to anger in destructive ways, we are not being authentic in our emotions.

Some of the ways that people act out in destructive ways when angry include gossiping, being passive aggressive, lying, creating shame and drama around our emotions, or being sarcastic. We might also intentionally withhold amends or reparations, which changes anger into more of a festering wound instead of simply a powerful emotion. These responses do not allow us to be emotionally independent and can create more emotional pain for us as well as those around us.

Learning from Anger

We can learn so much from our anger, as well as our responses to the emotion. For example, we can notice that as we learn to practice empathy for others in our anger, the results are very different than if we react in a more destructive way. Compassion is another trait that we learn in recovery that allows us to have a more constructive response when we experience anger.

As we learn to make living amends, or offer apologies or compensation for our words and actions, and we practice loving kindness regardless of our current emotions, we will also find that others respond very differently to us. We can evaluate and identify any resentments we may have, as well as our potential role in them, as we continue to learn and grow and cope with our anger.

Anger is one of the most powerful emotions that we can experience. But it does not have to destroy us, and it does not have to destroy our relationships with others. As we work to recover, we may experience plenty of anger. However, we can also gain the coping skills to honor our emotions and respond in constructive ways. 

Anger is something we all feel, but you can learn to respond to it with empathy, compassion, and loving kindness to find peace and courage in who you are becoming. You can become someone who acknowledges their emotions without letting your emotions define and destroy you. Start your recovery and learn how to heal and cope with anger today.

You can learn to cope with anger. Learn how by calling AToN Center at (888) 535-1516. Discover the power of kindness and self-control.

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