Managing Trauma Impact


How can I learn to manage the anger, frustration, and aggression I feel?


Thank you so much for this question. After we experience trauma and violence, we may experience a multitude of feelings, many of which can involve anger or frustration. We may feel angry that this happened to us. That life is not fair and that the world is not safe. We also may feel angry at our perpetrator or at people or systems in our lives that did not support us the way we deserve. Know that experiencing anger is healthy, normal, and okay. You are allowed to be angry. What you do with that anger, however, is something that you can learn to manage.

The first way to manage strong feelings such as anger is to understand warning signs of when it might sneak up on you. Next time you feel angry, monitor what physical changes happen to your body. Do your hands start to sweat? Does your vision blur? Does your heart race? Once you figure out what physically happens to your body, you can navigate what you can do to counteract that feeling. If you start to sweat, splash some cold water on your face or hold some ice cubes. If your heart races, close your eyes and take deep breaths to slow it down. By managing the physical manifestations of anger, we can better control our external reactions to it.
Another thing you may want to do is to be your own scientist and figure out what works for you to manage anger when it arises in daily life. Make a list of activities you can do to “move energy” when your anger makes you feel restless. Make another list of activities you can do to “soothe energy” to calm you down and take care of yourself in the aftermath. Make a final list of activities you can do to distract yourself from angry energy when you are not in a space where you can process it. This can help you create a plan for yourself ahead of time, to help you feel more capable of managing these feelings in the moment. 

Recognize that anger is a feeling and does not always need to be something that needs to be acted on in the moment. If something makes you angry, it may be wise to give yourself space to calm down before you address it, to be sure you do not do or say anything you regret. It can be hard to hear, but know that even though you experienced trauma, that doesn’t give you the right to be aggressive or harm anyone else. We were not responsible for what happened to us, but we are responsible for our own healing and breaking the cycle. It is not easy, but you can do it. We are here for you.

Safety Exit