JMC Psychotherapy, Bolton – What is anger management?
Everyone feels anger at times which is often a result of the stresses of life (see stress page).
For some people the problem becomes serious and interferes with everyday life.
Anger isn’t a problem within itself but it becomes a problem when it is too strong, occurs too often, spoils relationships or leads to violence and aggression.
What are the causes of anger?
Put very simply, there are three main causes – being scared, being hurt or being ignored. In some cases, unsettling memories from your past may also cause anger.
What might trigger anger?
We do not feel anger without a reason. If we gain insight into the reason behind the feeling, we can then find healthy ways to have needs behind the anger met. If we ignore or fail to address those needs, then the feeling will occur more and more, sometimes to the point where we explode.
Often as children we will do whatever is necessary to gain our parents’ attention; sometimes, for example, we may get no attention for crying in the supermarket, but plenty for having a screaming tantrum on the floor! Growing up we make decisions based on these events, and come to conclusions about how we need to be, and how the world in general behaves.
As an adult we may then decide that rather than ask for what we want in a straightforward adult manner, the way to get what we want is to become a victim, and have a “poor me”, self pitying attitude or an angry defensive response. We can then engage in “games” (which we all do at some time) and wonder how we reached that situation again. However, if we remain in an adult place and use “I” statements which are comments about ourselves and our feelings, these cannot be disputed by the other person, and they are highly unlikely to put the other person in a defensive mode. For example, rather than shouting at someone, “Why are you so … late?”, if you were to say, “Is everything OK? I wondered if you were all right”, this is much less likely to be a flashpoint for an argument.
Remember that the person’s anger is about them. You are not responsible for the anger, but you are responsible for your responses and reactions.
How can anger management help?
It may be that you have a highly stressful job, and that you find you vent your frustrations at home. This can range from punching walls to destroying something you have just bought, to more serious physical assaults. It may be that you are aware of your anger rising and all you see is “the red mist” coming down so that you don’t really know what you are doing when you are very angry. Perhaps instead of healthy grieving and feeling anger after a loss you have become stuck in a depression.
Anger doesn’t just show in our emotions; it also has physical and behavioural aspects.
What makes us angry? What puts us in a bad mood?
It might be something as trivial as the weather, or it may be a result of our upbringing or the culture to which we are accustomed. Often our physical health can be a factor. Even when we have something as trivial as a cold we can be irritable.
Why is anger bad for our health?
There can be many effects of our being angry, and chronic sustained anger can undoubtedly damage our health. It can lead to ulcers, digestive problems, raised cholesterol levels, hypertension, heart disease, blocked arteries, and headaches. It can worsen pain and delay recovery from major operations or illness.
Many therapists maintain that depression is a form of anger turned inwards.
Strategies to help you to deal with anger in the moment are:
- Relaxation, deep breathing.
- Developing an anger vocabulary.
- Having an early warning system.
How will psychotherapy help me deal with my anger?
We look at the root causes of anger, and the real unresolved feelings underneath the anger. Often there is a whole host of emotions when we are angry.
Therapy examines the real reasons why we become angry and what needs to change. There are a number of techniques which can be used. Issues which are examined include personal anger patterns and the impact of childhood – what you learned about anger when you were younger. There may also be emotions which you don’t know how to express. Anger is often about hiding shame.
Psychotherapy will help you learn how to express feelings appropriately.
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