Anger is a difficult emotion. Modern anger therapies have made great progress in treating angry people. They recognize that anger can be destructive to one’s relationships and teach them to understand manage and redirect their anger appropriately.
Anger involves the mind, the body, and the ineffective behavioral habits that people have acquired over the years in coping with emotions. People who want to “let go” of anger have to readjust their thinking as well as lower their pulse rates. For this reason, therapies that rely mainly on emotional release or on relaxation techniques, are only attending to part of the problem.
Effective anger therapies teach the person to identify the perceptions and interpretations that generate anger, relaxation techniques to help the person calm down, and new effective habits and coping skills.
Each angry person has patterns to their anger. Their anger occurs in particular situations, with particular people, or under particular circumstances perceived as provocations. Anger is not wholly in the “self” but in the situation and how the person chooses to react to the situation. Most angry people choose with whom they allow themselves to lose control. For example, most people will not lose control with a policeman or with their boss as they understand the consequences of that are higher than they would like to pay.
Moreover anger is maintained, and exacerbated by the statements angry people make to themselves and to others when they are or feel provoked. They take things personally and interpret events in ways that offend them. Experts have found that teaching them how to become slow to anger helps them to reinterpret events in ways that allow them to try to find explanations for other person’s behaviors and eventually, even empathize with them (Novaco, 1985).
Some example techniques people can learn to deal with their anger are: using cooling/calming thoughts, problem-solving thoughts, or learn to walk away from the situation when they begin to feel angry until able to deal with it calmly ( Jerry Deffenbacher, 2008). Sometimes, not taking oneself too seriously and using some humor can also help one get some distance from one’s problem.
If your anger is long standing and has affected your relationships, seeking help from a qualified individual and relationship therapist can help provide hope and tools that can you can change your life for the better.
Adapted from a book by C. Tavris
Dr.Baya Mebarek, Psy.D.,LMFT