Am I made to be angry? One of my parents was so angry all of the time, I don’t want to be like that. I’ve heard anger is genetic, doesn’t that mean I will be like that too? Will my kids be angry if I am angry? People who struggle to control their anger frequently ask, ‘Is anger genetic?’ The answer is, it’s complicated. Both genetics and learned behavior play a role in determining whether or not someone may struggle to manage their anger. Additional external factors could also influence an individual’s ability to manage their anger effectively.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghAugust 7, 2023 anger, anger counseling, anger issues, anger management, anger management counseling0 comments
Is Anger Genetic?
According to Denson and his colleagues (2014), individuals who are genetically predisposed towards aggression, try harder to control their anger. However, the study also stated that individuals who are genetically predisposed to anger, also struggle to control the part of their brain that is in charge of emotions. This means that although anger itself cannot be genetically linked to others, it does show that self-control may have more of a genetic basis. Individuals with low self-control may struggle to act appropriately in various settings/situations leading to arguments or violence.
Does this mean that people with a predisposition for anger can’t overcome their anger?
No, individuals can still develop healthy coping skills and seek professional help to manage their anger effectively. This process of developing healthy coping mechanisms can take time and practice for individuals to help improve their self-control in various settings.
Are certain personality traits more prone to anger issues?
Yes, in some cases personality traits such as low agreeableness, extraversion and neuroticism can make certain individuals more susceptible to anger issues. This does not mean that people with these characteristics are more likely to be angry, but these characteristics do impact their ability to interact in situations.
Is Anger a Learned Behavior?
Although genetics play some role in the ability to self-control, there is also additional environmental factors. For example, in childhood if you witness angry behaviors within the family or within their house, you will observe them and begin to repeat them as you get older – because you don’t know better. Individuals who see anger and aggression at a young age struggle to know healthy and effective coping skills or de-escalation techniques – as they were not demonstrated in their childhood. Thus, not an option for an individual to learn and use later on in life.
How to Control Anger (regardless of genetics and learned behavior)
Anger is a normal emotion to feel, it does serve a purpose in helping individuals navigate the world they live in. However, some individuals struggle to control their anger and self-control. If you find yourself wanting to get more help and support, please look into anger management counseling.
Denson, T.F., Dobson-Stone, C., Ronay, R., von Hippel, W., & Schira, M.M. (2014). A functional polymorphism of the MAOA gene is associated with neural responses to induced anger control. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 26(7), 1418-1427.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 23, 2023 anger, anger counseling, anger issues, anger management, anger management counseling, overcoming anger0 comments
Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by anger that you cannot seem to shake it off? Overcoming anger is a universal emotional journey that everyone encounters. However, for some individuals, managing this intense emotion becomes a challenging task. At times, uncontrolled anger can lead to destructive and impulsive behaviors, causing personal and relational turmoil in your life. It’s essential to explore ways to overcome these anger issues and find inner peace and harmony.
What is Anger?
Anger is “an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage” (American Psychological Association, 2022). It serves as a response that allows us to fight or defend ourselves when we feel attacked. In reasonable amounts, anger can be a crucial emotion for decision-making. However, unaddressed anger can lead to other problems.
What Causes Anger-Related Problems?
It is important to acknowledge that anger is a normal emotion. However, it becomes problematic when it feels uncontrollable and starts influencing your behaviors negatively. Anger can be triggered by various reasons, such as being denied something, facing past traumas, experiencing relationship or work issues, or encountering external events like traffic or canceled plans. If left untreated or ignored, anger can lead to erratic behaviors, violence, abuse, addiction, or even legal troubles.
Is There A Cure for Anger?
You might wonder if there’s a cure for your anger issues. While the technical answer is no, there are ways to manage its intensity and impact on your life.
You might wonder if there’s a cure for your anger issues. While the technical answer is no, there are ways to manage its intensity and impact on your life.
Tips for Overcoming Anger
- Acknowledge and Address: Ignoring anger won’t make it disappear. In fact, it can lead to emotional outbursts, anxiety, or depression. Avoiding the issue might also drive individuals to cope with anger in harmful ways.
- Communicate: Suppressing anger without proper communication can intensify the emotion, leading to hostility and impatience. Share your feelings with trusted individuals or consider therapy to understand and express your emotions effectively.
- Identify Triggers: Figure out what specifically triggers your anger. Identifying recurring triggers without resolution can hinder your ability to remain calm and composed in various situations.
- Practice Positive Coping Skills: Engage in activities that help deescalate anger positively. Some individuals benefit from attending anger management counseling courses to develop additional coping skills.
In conclusion, understanding and overcoming anger issues is a vital step towards improving our emotional well-being and enhancing our relationships with others. While anger is a normal emotion that can serve a purpose, uncontrolled and untreated anger can lead to harmful consequences for both ourselves and those around us. The key to managing anger lies in acknowledging its presence, identifying triggers, and developing positive coping mechanisms.
Remember that there is no quick fix or cure for anger issues. Instead, it is a continuous journey of self-awareness and personal growth. By communicating our feelings effectively and seeking appropriate support, such as therapy or anger management courses, we can work towards managing the intensity of anger and its impact on our lives.
Overcoming anger is not about eliminating the emotion entirely, but rather learning to respond to it in healthier and more constructive ways. Through patience, practice, and perseverance, we can develop the skills needed to navigate through anger and find greater inner peace and emotional balance.
Ultimately, taking the initiative to address and manage our anger can lead to a more fulfilling and harmonious life, allowing us to build stronger connections with others and make sound decisions even in challenging situations. Let us embrace the journey of overcoming anger and strive for a more positive and empowered emotional state. (American Psychological Association, 2022).
Seeking Help for Overcoming Anger?
If anger is taking a toll on your life and relationships, know that support is available. Whether you need guidance in anger management, coping strategies, or understanding the underlying causes, we’re here to assist you.
Take the first step towards a healthier emotional state by reaching out to us at 412-856-WELL or filling out the form below. Our team is dedicated to helping you find effective ways to manage anger and regain control over your well-being. You don’t have to face this alone – let us be your ally on your journey towards a more balanced and fulfilling life.
American Psychological Association. (2022). Control anger before it controls you. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghAugust 31, 2022 anger, anxiety, anxiety therapy pittsburgh, help for anxiety, mental health, social anxiety, teen anxiety, therapy for anxiety, treatment for anxiety, treatment for anxiety disorder0 comments
Sept 26: Intro to Group: Ice Breaker Activity, Review Rules and expectations
Teenagers often have worries and intrusive thoughts that can lead to ongoing anxiety. One of the most common types is Generalized Anxiety. The DSM-V explains Generalized Anxiety Disorder as, “excessive anxiety and worry occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities such as work or school performance.” Anxiety can have physical and emotional effects that can feel like an endless burden. As adult mentors, educators, and caregivers, here are tips for how to help a teenager with anxiety.
The anxious brain is conflicted as the mind can race, but inversely “blank out.” The frustration of not having a clear mind can lead to poor performance in school. Teens can start to lose concentration after school during homework or at work. Validate some of their worried thoughts by using logical thinking such as separating facts from fiction. Encourage creative outlets after mentally draining tasks. Teens can use journaling and stream of consciousness type writing to free these intrusive thoughts. Make sure there is a safe place for creativity as expression can be personal. Respect the privacy of your teen, but encourage them to share if comfortable.
Anger & Tension
Anger and irritability can unfortunately arrive during anxiety as a result of frustration. As we feel tense with worry, our bodies follow suit. Find what works best for your teen in the realm of movement. Sports are an obvious go-to, but yoga, tai chi and even light stretching can help. Giving your teen a time and space to calm down when angry will benefit you both. Talking about the anger when clear headed will improve your connection.
Sleep & Rest
Since one purpose of anxiety is to keep the brain and body on alert, there is a restless component that comes with anxiety. Frequently one can feel hypervigilant, especially when racing thoughts are added.
As a result, teens with anxiety may feel more tired and lethargic. Sleep becomes more crucial as anxiousness is prone to poor sleep patterns. Teenagers also need more sleep than their adult counterparts. Make early mornings less stressful by sticking to a more relaxing “down time” routine before bed. Find what type of nightly routine and sleep schedule works best. Remember that rest isn’t always sleep; meditation and taking breaks when acceptable can refresh the mind. A “mental health day” off school or work when appropriate can rejuvenate the soul.
One of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a sense of safety. The recent pandemic drastically affected schooling and activities. As a result, teens have had to learn to adapt to change and deal with disappointment. Teens especially crave the consistency of routine. Knowing what to anticipate in advance can help calm the anxious brain. Try to be realistic with expectations and set rules together. If you are uncertain of plans, be honest with your teen and come up with alternatives so that they know what to expect.
Using the 5 senses can be grounding to calm the nerves. For example, making a favorite meal together is comforting and incorporates all senses. Carrying a rollerball scent to smell, a fidget spinner to touch or sour candy to taste can be quick remedies when anxiety starts. Small changes of surroundings can also be refreshing, such as letting your teen rearrange and redecorate their room. There has been a resurgence in sensory items among teenagers. Being playful and letting teens enjoy video games and toys from their younger years also creates a sense of comfort.
There are many disorders that accompany anxious feelings such as Major Depressive Disorder, ADHD, and OCD. Anxiety can also be a result of traumatic events or major life changes.
Social anxiety (social phobia) is common among teens. Based on data from The National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), an estimated 9.1% of adolescents have social anxiety disorder, with an estimated 1.3% causing severe impairment.
Therapy for teens with a licensed professional counselor gives space to divulge these complicated thoughts and emotions. Group Therapy for Teenagers is a unique opportunity to gain skills and new behaviors with the benefit of an expert-led experience while being accelerated through the lens of social learning that can only come from peer support. Group formats have been used to successfully manage a variety of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Remember to practice your own self care when anxious as we are a great influence in their lives. When children see us coping better, they experience positive results firsthand. Normalizing honest conversations about emotions will show teens how to develop into healthy adults.
Group Therapy for Teenagers: Teen Art Group
This in-person Group Therapy for Teenagers runs from September 26-November 14 at 6PM on Mondays. It takes place at our Monroeville location. The group will be led by Licensed Professional Counselor Rachel Taylor, author of this article.
Teen Group Therapy: Teen Art Group will help teens learn Social Skills, Depression Coping Skills, Anxiety Strategies, and How to Handle Anger all within the context of making art.
Sept 26: Intro to Group: Ice Breaker Activity, Review Rules and expectations
Oct 3: Social Skills: Healthy relationships and make bracelets for friends
Oct 10: Depression Coping Skills: Jeopardy game
Oct 17: Anxiety Strategies/Discuss Group Topic choice
Oct 24: *Group topic Choice and craft*
Oct 31: Halloween!-Mask Craft and discuss different “sides” of self
Nov 7: Anger: role plays
Nov 14: Closure *Apples to Apples type game to review Group Skills *discuss future groups
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.)
Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality ([1st ed.].). New York: Harper.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2021). Social Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/social-anxiety-disorder
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghFebruary 28, 2021 anger, anger management, anger management counseling0 comments
Do you remember the last time you felt angry? Perhaps you were peeved that your kid left a sliver of milk in the jug and didn’t add it to the grocery list. Maybe a truck cut you off at the freeway entrance, and you muttered obscenities. Or maybe it’s hard to look back at the last time, because you punched a hole in the wall.
We All Get Angry
Though sometimes unpleasant, anger comprises a natural part of the human emotional experience. However, chronic and intense anger may take a toll on your body, mind, and relationships. Depending on the seriousness, this could range from a stress headache to a cardiac event.
Anger tends to surface in our relationships where we spend the most time. You may lash out at loved ones and feel regret. If this becomes a pattern, it can wound long-term relationships.
Unchecked anger that becomes physical aggression may evoke larger social, legal, and even criminal consequences.
If you find yourself struggling with this emotion, remember that eliminating anger from life is not an option. But you can learn to reduce persistent, intense anger.
Abundant Anger Management
Square one: anger management resources are widely available in this day and age. Think you don’t have the time or money? Positive effects have been noted from just a handful of interventions.
Common techniques include mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and non-violent communication. Some help diffuse intense feelings when they arise. Others equip you to work around or through situations that anger you.
Most interventions teach life skills that are simply good to have. Keep reading to learn what you have to gain.
Mindfulness: the Power of the Present
Mindfulness and relaxation techniques teach calm observation, which can help you self-soothe when tense. This can be useful whether you’re tolerating an annoying coworker or coaching yourself through airplane turbulence.
On top of anger reduction, mindfulness enhances enjoyment of day to day life. When you feel anchored in the present, it opens the door to deeper connection with yourself and others.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Flip Your Perspective
Cognitive reframing offers another multi-tool for life. To reframe, take a step back and examine your reaction to situations that provoke strong emotion.
For example, what thoughts fill your mind when you feel angry at your spouse for not emptying the dishwasher? “They don’t value my time. I do all the chores…” What if your spouse didn’t empty the dishwasher, because they were busy cooking dinner for you? Do you feel different about that full dishwasher now?
It’s natural to see that reframing could serve many emotions and circumstances, not just anger. You may find yourself reframing all sorts of assumptions that once weighed you down.
Non-Violent Communication: Get to the Root
Remember that anger may be telling you an important message about your needs. The hidden need might be personal (“I need more time to recharge”), but it could also draw you to a larger cause. Anger-fueled protests that call for justice are a classic example.
Whatever the message, non-violent communication teaches you to focus on the need beneath the emotion. Suddenly, you may find anger isn’t a roadblock anymore. Instead of choosing aggression and rumination, you energetically solve problems.
Take the First Step
With these benefits in mind, can you visualize yourself getting a handle on your anger?
Professional counseling can make a huge difference in the speed and health of your recovery. Reach out to find a therapist who’s a good fit. Get the support you need on the journey to freedom from chronic anger. If not now, when?
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 28, 2019 abuse, anger, borderline personality disorder, BPD, BPD Relationships, domestic violence, jealousy, narcissistic personality disorder, Personality disorders, relationship conflict, signs of a toxic relationship, toxic relationship signs, Unhealthy relationships0 comments
14 Toxic Relationship Signs
According the great writer Leo Tolstoy “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Our sources say, ‘Not true Tolstoy’, of course when psychologists and social scientists put their noses in the matter we can quantify and define the exact toxic relationship signs to look out for.
A healthy marriage, friendship, or relationship is supportive, stable, and enriching. Use our relationship wellness checklist to learn more! A relationship that makes us feel bad sometimes isn’t enough to reach the criteria of toxic, it literally must ooze with the stuff, consistently embodying certain patterns of relating. Unfortunately, there are some people due to their own emotional traumas or psychological profile that do have a proverbial sign on their back for attracting toxic people as they really are more easily victimized by a toxic persons strategies. This article is for you, the people that dig in and remain a part of the toxic dance which twirls them way past their comfort zone, for the quick to forgive, and the long winded in making excuses for their beloved others. Let us look at what the cherished whispers of your intuition might be trying to convey to you as you wonder if its you, or is it them? Read on for 14 Toxic Relationship Signs.
- Invalidate. There is a lot of research on the effects of the invalidating environment, if you wonder what that means. Think about this, when you try to share your feelings or thoughts with this person, do they become defensive and tell you that you’re completely wrong? Do you have to continually work to get them to see your side of things or do they never see your perspective at all? While two people in a healthy relationship will sometimes not see things the same way, that is different from trying to convince a person that their perception is inaccurate and the only way to see things is theirs. One of the things that many couple’s therapists coach couples on is that, “there are two valid perspectives in the room.” People in healthy relationships set out understand each other’s feelings, that means that your partner tries to see your side even when you’re in the throes of a disagreement.
- Uses Guilt. Are you walking around like a stick in the mud feeling like you’re always regretting something in the relationship? Maybe you’re being victimized by endless attempts at guilt. Try to tell them that you can’t make it to the holiday dinner this year and she says, “Well shows how much you care about this family!” We need to have the freedom to pursue what is right for us and the encouragement to express it without buttressing up against endless guilt trips
- Uses Manipulation or Gaslighting. Do you try to talk to a partner about feeling hurt or anxious over their drooling at the handsome guy at the cocktail party last night and they call you clingy and crazy? Does your loved one say things to you that are outright not true and sometimes you end up wondering if you are going crazy because their perception is so entirely different from yours? Does your friend or partner outright lie when you catch them doing something inappropriate? It is common for Narcissists and Sociopaths to use Gaslighting. Gaslighting is defined as purposely telling someone things that are totally untrue, this is even more sinister than lying, it is a form of brainwashing. It is intended to throw off your intuition and make you doubt your reality and the validity of your feelings. The sad truth is that those who are most vulnerable to gaslighting are those people who value others feedback more than they trust their own intuition, those who have grown up on high doses of manipulation, and especially the ‘people pleaser’ dependent personality type.
- Not Reciprocal. Are you always putting in work for the relationship and the other person simply isn’t? Whether friend, relative, or partner, healthy relationships are mutual, meaning both people put in the work to make each other a priority. If you have talked about this with them before or maybe are too afraid to talk about it because your intuition fears what you might learn, a good test is to stop putting in the effort and see what happens, do they reach out at all
- Minimizes your needs. ‘They might be toxic if.’ Do you have to work really hard to make yourself understood? Have you stopped trying out of hopelessness? Tell your friend that you have a lot going on and need to make it home right after your dinner out and they say, “You can stay out for a while longer, you will be fine.’
- Feel afraid to talk to the person. If any or all of the above has been happening for a while now, you may become consciously or unconsciously afraid to talk with this person. Maybe you start to turn toward others to talk out your thoughts. Perhaps you shut down and repress your authentic self completely because you fear that nothing will happen or that you will upset them if you try to talk about anything that they may not want.
- Hold the relationship hostage. Does your partner or friend threaten to break up, leave, never talk to you again as though it is a script in their relationship? Sometimes this is a symptom of a person who doesn’t know how to manage their emotions well or is poor at resolving conflict. Other times, this is a big fat red flag marking the territory of a toxic relationship. Healthy connection is grounded in trust and commitment that you will be there for each other even when times get hard. Of course, at other times there is a breaking point when it becomes so hard for so long that one of the people in the relationship wants out, ending a relationship is not toxic, that is just done.
- Uses the silent treatment.When something happens that is upsetting to them, they refuse to communicate for days, weeks, or even months? A person who uses the silent treatment is often trying to gain control over the situation or even more insidiously, they may be trying to hurt you by shutting you out. The antidote for the silent treatment is to develop a self-soothing strategy that creates enough calm so that life’s invariable relationship challenges can be overcome.
- Makes you feel that you’re never enough. You will know when you experience it, if you tell them that you got an A or promotion, they say get the “A plus next time” or “bet the promotion wont last long”. We must champion each other in relationships and encourage each others success and find pathways to overcome problems, that is one of the reasons people enter relationships, to give and receive support.
- Doesn’t apologize. When you have any relationship that’s more than a flip in the sheets or handshake, you’re going to mess up. Healthy people apologize when that happens and it takes a strong person to offer an apology when they are wrong. Toxic people will criticize, blame shift, deny and become defensive if you attempt to extract an apology from them.
- Doesn’t forgive. When the apology happens, loving people do their best to forgive. Forgiving can be hard, depending on what happened you might now be able to forgive, for instance if there was an infidelity in the relationship or some other betrayal, you may forgive or you may find the need to end the relationship. The choice is always yours, however, if you decide to remain in the relationship then you also are committing to forgive and not use the mistake as a launching point for endless criticism, guilting, and shaming. At other times, if the same apology has been happening for a long time, it can become meaningless and you may start to realize that the perpetual issue is a deal breaker, in that instance, working toward honoring your boundaries should be the goal.
- Uses name calling or makes you feel diminished. While we do end up feeling irritated with our partners behavior sometimes, healthy interactions focus on the behavior not the person. It is the difference between saying that you notice someone’s bedroom is messy and calling them a slob. Name calling can be outright abusive and is a sigh of a toxic person.
- Goes into rages or uses anger to control. Does this person have a quick temper and use it to wield their power, saying and doing things that leave a lasting scar. Of course if we are talking about physical abuse or safety concerns, that is more than a sign of someone who is toxic, that is violence. Same with pushing, chocking, pinching, blocking someone’s exit to safety, breaking their items to name a few. Having a temper is never an excuse to make someone feel unsafe or do any of the things above.
- Zaps your energy. Do you leave their company and feel depleted and out of energy? Is this the friend that always monopolizes the conversation, do you know so much about them but they know not so much about you because they barely ask? Or, does this person have more heads than the fabled medusa, constantly talking poorly about other people especially talking critically about others who they are supposed to be their friends or former partners? Do they constantly play the victim and come to you for rescuing? Chances are they are toxic!
The take home point is that toxicity is among us, others take on these characteristics out of necessity in their lives and they fail to integrate healthier strategies for relating to others. If we want a healthy relationship, we wont find it by accepting the above behaviors and dismissing our fears and intuition. Toxic behavior doesn’t change on its own, it does require professional intervention to support relationship health.
Written by Marriage Counselor and Founder of the Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh, Stephanie Wijkstrom.
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by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 26, 2018 anger, anger counseling, anger management0 comments
Anger is a primary emotion that all humans and even animals exhibit in some forms, anger is an activating response and it can often even signal to us some valuable information if we are open to hearing it. When we are practicing mindfulness and have developed our capacity to respond well to infuriating situations, we can become aware of our feelings, then respond in a way that keeps our goals and values in mind. There are several mental health disorders which can present with anger, such as depression in the elderly and men, and impulse control disorder and more.
Uncontrolled anger can lead to multiple problems, internally, it can also lead to stress related diseases including cardiac problems. Anger leads to a state of hyper-arousal where our heart beats faster and our pulmonary functions become heightened, this is often referred to fight or flight. Anger gets a bad wrap and we too often see the destructive potential that it has when a person responds to their anger in a way that is not productive. In Hawaiian culture there is a goddess worshiped, her name is Pele, Pele has the ability to wreak havoc onto the people of the island by causing the volcano’s to erupt their fiery magma around. Pele has it right, when we bubble beneath our crust and wrath comes to their surface, its effects can be destructive. Read on if you think that you or someone you know has a problem with anger; here are 4 ways to tell if you may need counseling, therapy, or even anger management.
- Doing things that you later regret- There are many ways to respond to the feeling of anger, some of the ones that can lead to problems in children and adults are acting out with verbal or physical behaviors that cause damage to the self or others. Most people can relate to not responding well when they are in the midst of a disagreement and thinking back with regret. This is different from what is experienced by the individual who struggles with anger or even may hold a diagnosis such as Intermittent Explosive Disorder.
- Being unable to remember parts of an angry incident. If you are having some angry episodes and when your partner tries to talk about it you don’t remember much, this could indicate a problem. Certain psychological diagnosis such as borderline personality disorder can go into a full dissociative rage.
- Denying having angry feelings. Anger is a primary emotion, we all experience it sometimes, it is a red flag if someone says that they never get angry. Here we know that this person likely has a passive or a passive aggressive personality style that can also lead to troubles in their relationships and other psychological problems.
- Losing a relationship, breaking the law by hurting someone or their property while angry. Even if we feel that our anger is justified we know that we are treading on thin ice when anger triggers us to violate others or their property which in turns endangers others and our freedom.
Remember that anger can be productive and motivational when we respond to it rationally, yet our goal is always to live a life of awareness and greater peace and happiness and if the answer was yes to any of the above questions you are likely suffering and struggling to find ways of expressing yourself and achieving your interpersonal goals.Learn More