Before we look at Anger Management as a subject it is best that we understand what anger is and why we may like to manage it.
“More than one in ten (12%) say that they have trouble controlling their own anger” Mental Health Foundation, Boiling Point Report
What is anger?
In its essence anger is one of our core range of feelings. Each one of those feelings has a purpose and the purpose of anger is to protect us.
Because these feelings evolved over millions of years(our society has changed dramatically in the last 10000 years) they are not always fit for purpose. Anger has that issue because the threats it was designed to protect us from do not really exist anymore.
In addition as our lives and society have grown more complex we have used anger differently and many people use it to hide the feelings of vulnerability such as fear, hurt or shame.
Whatever the reason for being angry, in today’s society, the issue is how we express our anger towards others. If it is expressed in a healthy way it can help to clear up misunderstandings, make our boundaries clear and help us stand up for ourselves.
Expressed unhealthily it can scare others, harm our friendships and our intimate relationships, cause issues at work, can cause us to be accused of being bullies.
It’s not always about an explosion
While it is obvious someone who is aggressive needs to alter their behaviour this is not the most common way we express our anger. It is just the most obvious.
The most common way is for us to be passive aggressive. Behavioural traits that indicate passive aggression include taking the victim role, sulking, withholding affection, backstabbing and sarcasm. Imagine if you are in a relationship where these are the primary methods of communication.
What causes anger?
There is a whole list of possible causes and for most of us the likelihood is that there is a combination going on. The main issues that are impacting on our ability to manage our anger are as follows –
Stress: Life appears to be getting more stressful. One of the key factors in anger is stress. You may be aware of how much shorter your fuse when you are stressed.
Self Esteem: How highly you value yourself and how much you need others to value you is a key component of managing your relationship with anger. Not feeling respected, listened to, valued and liked are all components of our self esteem. Unhealthy self esteem also causes us to take things personally.
Judgemental & Critical behaviours: When we are judging and criticising others we are unable to empathise or understand their point of view. Being able to empathise is critical in resolving conflicts. We often use our judgemental side to protect us and elevate ourselves in our own eyes and the eyes of others, or so we perceive.
Avoidance of conflict: Many people experience themselves as disliking conflict and consciously avoiding it. Unfortunately this leads to suppression of feelings that spark off conflict. These do not go away and instead fester and eventually come out as anger and aggression, the very issues we sought to avoid.
Lack of positive role models: Some of us will have grown up in angry households where this attacking and confrontational style becomes the only way we have learnt to stand up for ourselves and negotiate. This means that we don’t really have the interpersonal skills to navigate life’s complexities or relationships and we end up feeling let down.
Inability to process and deal with feelings: To be more precise this is about feelings of vulnerability. Being vulnerable is part living yet many of us are unable to deal with those feelings. Often the method we choose to protect ourselves is to be angry.
Trauma: Those of us that have suffered traumatic incidents in the past and have not had the opportunity to process them fully can find that these incidents return over time through our behaviours. Anger can be a default for coping with feelings of overwhelm that flood us when we are traumatised or reliving a traumatic experience.
What can we do?
The short answer is to learn the skills we need to deal with stress, develop healthy self esteem and to have conflict in a healthy way. They can be learnt. None of us magically came into this world with the skill set outlined above. Many of us have that toolkit available to us but there are also many that need to develop in some area or another.
If you know you have unresolved trauma from earlier parts of your life then you could benefit from finding a counsellor to talk to. Preferably one skilled in trauma work. It can be really effective and need not cost a lot or take a lot of time.
On a Calm People workshop, we help people understand the connection between past issues and present behaviours and introduce delegates to ways in which they can safely process these issues in their own way and their own time if that suits them.
Benefits of learning anger management skills
These are life skills that enable us to feel better about ourselves and have better relationships with others. Key benefits are –
Better healthier relationships
Feeling happier generally
Being a calmer person
Different outlooks on life
Stronger ability to negotiate and to stand up for yourself without resulting in unresolved conflict.
Others feel safer around you.
If you would like to know more about how you can deal with your anger you can click here to read about our Keeping Calm Intensive Weekend workshops or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 013320869211 and start a confidential discussion about how we can help you.