Does Anger Management Work?
Have you ever been surprised by the intensity of your feelings about something? Have you been caught off guard by someone else’s sudden and intense anger, or overwhelming sadness?
Suppressing anger occurs when we hold our anger inside for fear of expressing it. Anger is a healthy emotion and occurs in everybody’s life — when it’s expressed in an appropriate manner at the right time. However, anger is a secondary feeling. This means that we always feel something else first before we get angry: afraid, hopeless, hurt, disrespected, disappointed, or guilty. Many people use anger to protect/cover up these other vulnerable feelings. Some may have been told that emotions are a sign of weakness or anger makes you tough. Many learn to deny and suppress their feelings so they will not be vulnerable to emotional pain anymore.
Suppressing anger is not control. We are merely “stuffing” it for fear of the consequences of letting it out. Some men learned as a child that expressing any emotion other than anger was a sign of weakness, which would be followed by guilt and punishment. They have never forgotten this lesson. “Stuffing it” is now how many guys prevent “disaster” (punishment) in the future. It became their blueprint for “coping” with situations in later life.
Managing anger involves making choices to reduce the frequency and intensity of anger, which diminishes the negative consequences of aggressive outbursts. There are four components to anger management:
1) Self Expression: Promote constructive communication
2) Take Responsibility: To take ownership over our choices
3) Acceptance: Increase frustration tolerance
4) Delay Gratification Manage impulse control
Anger management involves not saying or doing something that we’ll later regret. It involves calming ourselves, making cool-headed assessments of the situation, and taking sensible action. Anger management is useful for everyone, since we all have anger and need to cope with other’s anger. Many people seek anger management when they come to realize that their way of moving through life is not working. They have begun to see that it wasn’t bad luck or someone else’s fault.
There are many people who have started to look back on a lifetime of lashing out at problems and see that there has to be a better way to respond. They have come to the realization that they cannot manage their angry outbursts by themselves anymore. These people need a guide to continue their journey without scorching the earth behind them. They need a new set of choices, a new way of moving through life.
I want you to know that anger management is not a sign of weakness or failure. The stigma of psychological help has diminished across generations, but seeking mental health support is still mentioned in whispers. All humans struggle with their feelings and can benefit from psychological guidance.
I think mental health should be addressed on par with physical health. We get an annual physical, but most do not see the same value in routine mental health checkups. Seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness. We all need help from time to time and it’s a sign of strength and intelligence to know when to seek support. Someone who has skills and the right tools is an asset, not a liability.
If we have a leaky faucet and the only tool we have is a hammer, just banging on our pipes is only going to make the problem worse. The pipes burst, our basement floods and the foundation cracks. Or we could just call the plumber and he gives us a new tool called a wrench, so next time we have a leak we can fix it ourselves. If we have a bad tooth, we go to the dentist; if our car breaks down, we go to the mechanic. We get professional support for all kinds of problems and anger management is no different.
Throughout our lives, we improve our skills by taking “courses” and practicing what we learn. If we play sports, we are coached in the basics and practice them until we succeed; at work, we are shown how to perform tasks, then get better and better as we repeat the process; to learn cooking or outdoor grilling, we follow recipes or observe someone with known abilities, then add our personal touches. Controlling our emotions is another skill, one that gets little or no attention until failure to do so results in trouble.
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