We all get angry. Anger is an emotion as acceptable as any other, and yet for some their anger has become a problem. They feel that they tend to react more angrily than the average person, and for some it has even threatened to ruin a career or destroyed a special relationship. So at what point is the expression of an emotion a problem that needs to be managed?
To help us understand this, we can look at anger in contrast with other emotions. Why do some people feel that they react more angrily than others? –
Feeling an emotion, whether it is anger, anxiety, sadness, or any other emotion, is neither good nor bad. It is just an emotion. So at what point can we say that an angry reaction is unacceptable and problematic? Most would agree that the tipping point is
If anger has become a problem, how can talking to a trained professional help?
By way of illustration, a person might assume that everyone should be polite to each other, and as a result that person might feel angry every time someone is impolite to her. Once the thoughts and assumptions are identified, the therapist will help the person to change any thoughts and assumptions that are unhelpful. For example, the therapist might suggest that the person changes the should statement into ‘I would like people to be polite to each other, but I am aware that not everyone will be’. This change in assumption might lead to less anger, as a result of less perceived violation of that person’s rights.
1. When it does not lead to further retaliation by the target’ (for example, one could write an angry letter which is then torn up)
2. ‘When it results in changes in the perceptions of the expresser or the behaviour of the target.’
Talking to a trained professional about anger management can be useful, but we cannot do anything until we are fully aware. Some people deny that they are ever angry, and so it is important to reflect on this as anger can be communicated in a number of ways, passively and actively. Consider carefully how you feel and how that makes you behave in certain situations. It is okay to feel angry, but to what degree is that anger a response to a distorted version of reality? And even if it is not distorted, is the extent of our anger a proportionate reaction to the situation?
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Chris Warren-Dickins LPC , Licensed Professional Counselor with an office at 162 E Ridgewood Ave, Ste 4B, Ridgewood, New Jersey. Sessions are also available online