The Problem of Anger
Like all emotions, anger is a very natural response to a particular situation. Instinctively, we are hardwired to react aggressively when faced with a real or perceived threat. Although healthy and in some cases even crucial to our well being, anger becomes a detrimental force when it develops into uncontrollable rage, hurting those around us, or when it simply controls our lives. One in five Americans is said to have anger management issues according to Leonard Ingram, psychotherapist, author and founder of the Anger Institute of Chicago. Both abnormally expressed and repressed anger can have serious physical and emotional implications.
If left unmanaged, anger issues can affect your health, your career, and your relationship with family and friends. Although you will never be able to eliminate every situation that triggers an angry response, with counseling and support, you can learn how to effectively manage your reaction to these situations and regain control of your life. Like all forms of counselling, the effectiveness of treatment requires participation and commitment by the client to resolving the issues that are underlying the anger.
Is My Anger Out of Control?
Everyone gets angry from time to time; we are human after all. In fact, anger can even motivate us to make great changes in our lives when nothing else will. Anger itself is not the problem; it is how we chose to react to the anger that gets us in trouble. Often times we may not even realize we are angry until that pivotal moment when everything around us seems to fade away and all we feel is our heart pounding faster, our blood pressure rising and then, this wild, unrecognizable being seems to take over, doing and saying things we would never say on our worst day. This is the point when anger becomes dangerous and counselling becomes important. Any rational thoughts we might have had, left the minute we started seeing red. And even though we consciously know what is happening around us, we feel helpless to stop it. Suddenly, it feels really good to throw anything within reach, lash out at everyone in the vicinity, and scream at the top of your lungs. You don’t care that you resemble a raving lunatic; releasing the pent-up energy is all that matters, even if people you love and care about get hurt. Then, when it’s all over, the guilt sets in as the results of your actions become known causing yet more unresolved anger. It is a never-ending cycle.
Although this situation may seem extreme to some people, any anger that is harmful to you or those around you, is not appropriate and needs to be managed and the triggered addressed and resolved. Sarcasm and hurtful comments meant to demean or shame others are a form of anger. Consistent complaining, demanding, brooding, and sulking or constant moodiness are also forms of unresolved anger. If you find you can’t “let-it-go” even after the situation has passed or is resolved, your anger is controlling your life and you need to mange it.
What Determines How I Will React to Anger?
Studies now indicate that how we respond to anger could be partly genetic, in other words, some people are simply more predisposed to being “hot-heads” than others. There are also those who may not openly express their anger, but who constantly appear withdrawn, irritable, and “grumpy”. The manner in which we were brought up may also affect how we respond to anger. Possibly your parents taught you it was inappropriate to express your anger, so you learned to suppress these feelings. Maybe you had a parent who “flew off the handle” in a minute’s notice, so you learned this behavior, never appropriately managing your anger. Your ability to deal with stressful situations will also determine how quickly you respond to angry feelings. Those with a low-tolerance to stress or who become easily frustrated when things don’t work as planned will react more quickly and possibly more intensely depending on the situation.
We now know that whether you tend to blow up immediately or suppress your anger for later, unresolved anger can result in serious health issues like heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and countless other preventable diseases and chronic conditions. Mismanaged anger also results in divorce, domestic abuse, child abuse, bullying, hate crimes, road rage, and even murder. In 2003, reports released by the FBI showed that of the 25,000 people killed by another person each year in the United States, in 76 percent of the cases, the situation started with a simple argument.
What Can I Do To Manage My Anger?
Whether your anger is relatively mild or frighteningly intense, if it’s controlling your life, you need to manage the situation now. There will always be things that make you angry; your react action is what matters. With support and counseling you can learn how to change your thinking, to see the situation from a new perspective so your anger no longer controls you. Simply stated, anger management counseling will give you the tools to take your life back and resolve the triggers that result in the extreme anger reactions.
Counseling: Anger Management Treatment
When you are faced with feelings of anger that leave you feeling out of control and striking out at those around you, it can often seem a daunting task to try to identify and makes changes to what is causing the anger and the strong reactions. When your response to anger becomes more than a motivator for positive change, it may be time to consider identifying the triggers and underlying issues that set off an angry reaction. Values-based counselling offers an opportunity to identify and address both the triggers and underlying issues.
While anger, in general, has a useful purpose to motivate us or warn us of a threat, in some instances, anger is an expression of another emotion that lies underneath. In many situations, anger can be linked to intent to preserve personal worth, to preserve essential needs, or to preserve basic convictions. Identifying these unmet needs is one of the goals of anger management counseling. Once these are identified, we work together to determine how to address these situations and Relationships that may lack boundaries, or healthy structure. We also look at ways to change the reaction even when changing the situation may not be possible. By developing an understanding of the unmet needs, which is some cases may be the result of a low sense of self worth or identity, the counselor and client work together to make changes to provide the client a greater sense of value and purpose that is internal rather than focused on external validation and affirmation. While all individuals have a need for social belonging, we want to create a balance between the external and internal sense of significance and importance. This internal sense of meaning then provides a balance to how we view ourselves making it more viable to respond to how we are feeling rather than reacting to the underlying triggers.
If you need a therapist to help you, we have a large selection of online therapists who are professional and licensed counselors, able to help you right where you are over the phone, via email, or webcam/messenger. If you prefer face to face counseling, please use our therapist directory and find a city close to you with a therapist who can meet your needs.
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