As a counsellor I often get enquiries regarding Anger Management. So what is Anger Management and how can counselling help?
Anger is a complex emotion and can arise for all sorts of reasons. Everybody is different, so I would usually suggest an initial session to explore the nature of your anger. What triggers your anger? Has it been a strong emotion through your life or has it come up recently? Have there been any significant events in your life that might be linked to it? If you get angry – when and where does it usually happen? Where do you feel anger in your body? What was the attitude to anger in your family of origin? Finding answers to all those questions will allow us to have a clearer picture of your anger and other emotions that might be behind it.
In our society anger is often confused with violence, so expressing anger might become a taboo. On the other hand, anger is often the only emotion that boys are allowed to show without being mocked or ridiculed. This situation can create a double bind, when anger becomes an only emotion that can be expressed, but it will be often accompanied by a feeling of guilt.
There is nothing wrong with being able to get angry and to express your anger, but it should be done appropriately and be relevant to your present situation. Counselling is there to help you understand your emotional life better and to be able to make conscious choices about how to act in the here and now.
So you think you are an angry person, but are you really? Try this exercise:
Imagine that tomorrow is the beginning of a holiday period and all the shops are going to be shut for several days.
You have no food left in a house and have just enough time to run to the supermarket and stock up before the shop closes.
You quickly fill up your trolley and go to the tills. There are just a few minutes left before the closing time.
You get to the checkout desk, the person at the till enters your purchases on the cash-till and tells you the total cost.
You reach for your wallet and can’t find it. You search and search and it is not there. You remember now that you left it at home.
As the line is building up behind you, you ask the shop assistant if it would be ok to leave your name and address, take your shopping and bring money after the holidays. The shop assistant replies that it is not possible.
So you can’t take your goods home and there will be several days before the shops will re-open.
As you realize this – How do you feel?
If you will do this exercise in a group, you will realize that different people will report different feelings.
The feeling that you will report is the one you are experiencing quite often in all sorts of situations.
This feeling will also be the one that was “allowed” or encouraged in your family of origin.
The emotion you felt did nothing to help you find a solution to your problem.
These characteristics are typical of what Transactional Analysis calls The Racket Feeling.
The racket feeling is usually a substitute for an authentic feeling. For example, you might get angry when you are really sad. Feelings substitution is happening out of awareness, so you might not even notice what you are really experiencing.
So next time you get angry, you might try to stop and think for a moment – what are you really feeling? Could you find ways of expressing that real feeling (fear, sadness etc.) instead of getting angry? Becoming aware of your real feelings and finding ways of getting your needs met will help you manage your anger and use it in constructive rather than destructive ways.