There is a great deal of confusion around anger as to whether it is a problem or not and then, what to do about it. Anger is the normal, natural human emotion that develops whenever you are not happy about something. It is very personal in that you might feel angry about a particular thing, but others would not. It is an emotion that drives changing that which you are not happy with. We now realise that there is nothing wrong with anger, the emotion, when managed correctly.
The problem is more to do with what we do or say when we feel angry. In other words, our behaviour. We must not be abusive or out of control. We need to think first and then act. Anger management is about being able to express your anger in an appropriate way, in control, so that neither yourself or another is hurt or abused physically, verbally or emotionally. When you lose your temper, you lose control and give away your power. When you use aggression to get your own way it can constitute abuse and there is no justification for it – in fact, there is usually a price to pay for it. Aggression is actually about controlling another through the use of power to create fear in the other person so that they do what you want.
As individuals are not mind-readers, we need to learn to become much better communicators, not only to get things off our chest, but as a way of letting someone else know what we are not happy with. No-one will guess when you use sarcasm, criticism, moodiness, silence, walking out, shouting and so on what you are feeling, why you are feeling the way you do, and what you want them to do. These three components, when communicated respectfully, let another know what is going on with you and it opens up a way to resolve conflict.
There is always a tit-for-tat between people and it creates conflict, for example, if you upset me, I’ll upset you. We can choose to stop doing it as it serves no purpose. Ask yourself: do certain things you do, such as losing your temper, really serve you? Most likely the answer will be no! It is very important to deal with issues rather than bottle them up. If you don’t, they will not go away. Things don’t magically become alright again. We are like a pressure cooker and things build and build until one day we explode.
Anger, including frustration, irritation, annoyance, disappointment, when bottled up, has a negative impact on our health and can produce headaches and migraines, stress, digestive, skin and heart problems, insomnia and so on. When the explosion happens, it is often out of proportion to the size of the incident and is called “rage” (anger out of control). Raging will also affect your heart and raise your blood pressure.
There is a type of anger that we work with called historic or regressive anger. Typically this is unresolved anger from earlier years, trapped inside your body, which rears its ugly head in a potent form when you are triggered. In fact, you actually regress to an earlier age and have a kids temper tantrum in an adults body. This is really when you throw your toys out the cot. If your outburst is extreme, lasts longer than four minutes, is out of proportion to what happened and takes hours to get over, it is likely that you are experiencing regressive anger. We have a special process we use to help you to get this out your system so that you don’t regress so quickly in future.
One of the most important concepts to understand in anger management is around responsibility and choice. No-one tells you to shout, swear, throw things, scream, push them, hit them or be violent. It is in fact you who chooses to do these things … and they all constitute abuse. If this is so, then there is little justification in saying excuses such as she made me do it or it was his fault. Nobody deserves to be abused by another. This can be turned around to read “I have the right to be safe and not be abused by anyone”. This is a basic human right and every person has this right.
Anger management is not a quick fix. It is about learning a new way of thinking and behaving, learning a better way of communicating and dealing with conflict. It is about learning the language of feelings and empathy, and most importantly, it is about being in control. After completing a programme you will feel as if you have transformed into a better individual and will actually feel good about yourself. When you begin to use the tools of anger management, you will be able to harness the power of anger positively with amazing results. It will give you more energy, greater creativity, more intimacy in your relationships, the ability to bring about changes to situations, to delegate and motivate, to have better relations with your partner, children and family. Your stress levels will come more under control and your health will improve. In many cases, those suffering from depression will feel less depressed once they have dealt with their anger.
An Anger Management Programme will help adults as individuals or as couples, adolescents as well as those in organisations and schools. A typical private session will attempt to sort out issues, give a really clear and in-depth understanding of anger and emotions so that the participant understands how everything works and why things have been the way they have. They will also be provided with a lot of practical interventions and tools of anger management to use which will make an enormous difference. Everything you learn will be of use to you in managing your other emotions and in all situations such as your relationship with your loved ones, but also at work and with strangers. A programme is of a relatively short duration in comparison with being in therapy for months and months. Whilst not strictly therapy, the outcomes are therapeutic and the individual feels transformed with a new lease of life.
Anger Management is a thinking person's game. It is all about stopping an inappropriate behaviour, calming down, thinking about options and then sorting things out when you are ready, and in control. Anger management provides the means to do all of this. It is not rocket science. It only requires a desire to change, an open mind and practice, practice and more practice. It has transformed hundreds of individuals’ lives, salvaged relationships, saved marriages, assisted with parenting skills, saved jobs, prevented imprisonment and cleared issues that others have not been able to.
For more information on anger management:
Shelton Kartun, B.Sc (Hons) DMS M.ASC M.BAAM , a specialist in the field of anger management and a counsellor in stress.
He is the Director and Founder of The Anger & Stress Management Centre of SA. Tel: (021) 554 3661 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.