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Overcoming Frustration and Anger

Topic Overview

If you struggle with frustration and anger related to trauma or loss, you may try to hide your feelings in the hope that they will go away. Unfortunately, intense feelings must be recognized and dealt with; they don't just go away on their own.

You may become angry and blame others for what has happened, even though it is not their fault. This is called displaced anger. You may get angry with a higher power, such as God.

Frustration and anger affect people emotionally and physically. You may work out these feelings by talking with someone or through physical activity (such as running, cleaning house, or punching a pillow). Working out frustration and anger in a physical way helps relieve muscle tension and may reduce restlessness and irritation.

Unresolved frustration and anger may grow until you are not able to deal with them. You may then yell, scream, or hit someone or something. Unexpressed frustration and anger can also cause other problems, such as physical illness or depression.

The first step in overcoming frustration and anger is to recognize that you are feeling these emotions. Many people were taught as children not to express frustration and anger. If you are feeling bottled up inside and are not sure what to do about it, try:

  • Talking with someone you trust. Talking may help you become more clear about what you are feeling.
  • Talking out loud to yourself. You can even use a recorder and play back what you've recorded. This helps you hear yourself express your feelings as though you were listening to someone else.
  • Writing about your feelings. It may be helpful to make a list of everything that is bothering you. You can then decide which items you can change and write down ways that you can change them.
  • Recognizing things that you cannot change. There may be things that you can do nothing about. Simply writing them down is often helpful. Reminding yourself that some things are beyond your control also helps. Letting go of the wish that you could change them may be hard to do. You may need to remind yourself daily or many times throughout the day that these things are beyond your control.
  • Making changes to help reduce your anger and frustration. For example, if your child's television programs bother you, move the television into a room where you can shut the door. Or you can wear earplugs if noises, such as the television or radio, seem louder than usual.

If you continue to have trouble overcoming your frustration and anger, or if you have had problems with anger in the past, talk about your concerns with someone you trust, such as a clergyperson or a health professional. You may decide to join a self-help group or seek counseling.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Jessica Hamblen, PhD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Last Revised January 9, 2013

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