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Anger management: Don’t let the cork blow

Media contact:

Linda Geist
Writer
University of Missouri Extension
Phone: 573-882-9185
Email: GeistLi@missouri.edu

Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013

Story source:

Wendy Brumbaugh, 573-633-2640

SHELBYVILLE, Mo. – If you’re angry, don’t keep it bottled up or your cork might blow, says University of Missouri Extension family financial education specialist Wendy Brumbaugh.

“We all get angry,” she said. “It’s how you cope.”

But anger has many side effects, ranging from poor relationships, employment problems, financial troubles and impaired health. Brumbaugh teaches a six-hour court-mandated anger management course, but says the principles also apply to those who have not entered the court system.

The first step in managing anger is to identify what triggers your anger, then you can establish coping mechanisms, she said.

Many times a particular place will be a trigger. She gives the example of a student who got in trouble when he went to the park. She learned that he had been bullied in the parks when he was a child, and then became the person doing the bullying. As simple as it sounds, the solution was to stay away from parks and recognize that he had turned his hidden anger into bullying.

 “Removing yourself from the situation is almost always the best way to cool off,” she said.  She suggests taking a walk, counting to 100, getting a drink of water or simply taking several slow, deep breaths to relax until you can gain control. Physical activity can be a healthy and effective outlet for angry feelings.

Most people who have let their anger get them into the court system have poor communication and social skills. Brumbaugh helps those individuals change the way they speak to people when angry.

“Use ‘I’ statements instead of ‘you’ statements,” she said. For example, you might say “I appreciate it when you call me when you are going to be late,” instead of “You are always late.” While both sentences mean the same thing, the first statement is usually better received.

Disagreements often arise when one person drags the past into an argument. “Leave the past in the past,” she said.

Problems with relationships often begin and end with alcohol and drugs, Brumbaugh said. She finds that substance abuse is a contributing factor in many domestic violence or assault cases. The solution is to avoid alcohol and drugs and never mix them with a place or person that triggers anger.

For more information from MU Extension, including feature articles, answers to frequently asked questions, learning opportunities and other resources, go to www.missourifamilies.org.