Anger, like any emotion, is valid and nothing to be ashamed of. However, it’s an emotion that can feel overwhelming and make us say things we regret. A lot of recovery is about learning to both feel our emotions and respond to them in a healthier way.
First, we typically need some distance when we’re feeling angry. If your anger is directed towards another person, it can be helpful to step away and let yourself feel it separate from them. This can be as simple as taking a short walk, but you might need to take some distance from the person for a period of time.
If your anger is directed inward, there are constructive ways to cope with it that won’t end up hurting you. These can be journaling, exercising, calling a friend, making art about your feelings, or any number of other things.
These also apply if the anger is towards another person. All of these allow you to express anger in a way that won’t harm yourself or others. Doing something physical, like running or hitting a punching bag or even hitting a pillow against a bed, can be helpful because anger can cause a physical response.
It can be helpful to recognize that anger is usually a reaction to feeling hurt, powerless, afraid, sad, or embarrassed. Sometimes anger is a protector against vulnerability. Sometimes it’s a reaction to not feeling heard or seen. Whatever the case, it’s usually about deeper pain. After anger has subsided, it can be useful to try to understand where it came from. This can help you recognize your triggers, set boundaries, learn constructive ways of coping with your anger, and better understand how to nurture yourself when (and after) you experience it.
Every feeling passes, but when we respond to those emotions in harmful ways, the consequences can linger. The task is not to beat yourself up for having anger, but to examine the source of your emotions and cope with them in ways that are healthy for you. During active addiction, that’s very difficult (if not impossible) to do. Recovery gives us a great opportunity to work on coping with anger—and other difficult feelings—in constructive ways.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you learn the coping skills to build a great life in recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.