Journaling Your Anger - Part I
by Dr. Bill Austin

Up to now all my articles have focused on the triggers for anger and some of the ineffective ways we try to handle it. Now I would like to focus on specific, effective ways we can handle anger. If we want to be in charge of what we do with our anger, one of the best tools is an anger journal.

To start our journal, we will need a blank spiral notebook. Every time we become angry we are to record it by following the guidelines highlighted in the next series of articles. This is a private journal, not to be shared with others.

1. Record the time of day we become angry. As we log in the times, we may discover a pattern. It could be when we first come home from work and are hit with what seem to be more demands. Our partner wants to talk or to have us take over some of the family duties.

We know these requests are legitimate but we are feeling stressed.

We need space and time to unwind but instead of asking for what we need, we growl for everyone to back off.

Since we are making space for ourselves by negative means, it is not a time of relaxing. Now everyone is upset and we are feeling like the villain. While it is important to meet our needs, it is equally important not to meet those needs at the expense of the needs of those around us.

We are not the only ones who have a need to relax and unwind!

If we discover that our angry time is when we return from work, we could try what my son, Brian, recommends to his clients. He suggests a debriefing time when we may cool down or unwind before we come home. As we prepare for the transition from work to home, we need to make time to reflect on our day.

We should ask such questions as, 'What emotional package am I bringing home that might affect how I reconnect with my partner or children? What made me happy today? What made me sad? What made me angry? What was my high point?' Other suggestions are to process these questions with our partner or in a journal.

The debriefing needs to include breathing for relaxation. When we are stressed or anxious, we breathe from the top of our lungs. Breathing with our abdomen is a wonderful way of calming ourselves. As we exhale, say, 'I am breathing out tension and stress.' When we inhale, say, 'I am breathing in peace and calmness.' Repeat this process until we feel calmer.

Another way of preparing ourselves for the transition is listening to soothing music on the way home or after we are home; we can also use this time for meditation or visualization.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700