As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I have been teaching Anger Management skills for 20 years. This will be an 8 part miniseries on Anger Management that should provide my readers with some helpful insights into developing healthy and positive anger management skills. Each section will post major aspects of anger management.
The Emotion of Anger: Understanding is the Key:
Anger is a feeling. It is not good or bad. Instead, it is a natural response to a situation. Your anger is giving you a message. It is trying to tell you that there is something going on in the current situation that you don’t like. It is up to you to decipher what the problem is and go about correcting it in a positive and respectful manner. Therefore, anger is not good or bad; instead, it is how you demonstrate your anger that is either negative or positive. If you chose to respond by becoming violent or spewing profanities, you are choosing to display your anger in a negative method. If you instead chose to calm down, talk to someone you trust or take slow, deep breaths; you are choosing to react to your anger in a positive way. Notice I used the word, “choose”. The only person who can control your actions is YOU! Someone may have done something to make you angry, but you are in control of how you react. We are always making behavior choices. Some people like to tell themselves they cannot control their anger. It may be very hard for them to regulate their anger and it may take a lot of effort and practice to change, but it is normally possible to modify your behavior.
Here are some historical and biological facts about anger that may give you a deeper understanding of your temper. Thousands of years ago when the human race were cave people, we did not have the large brain we have today. Primitive man’s brain was about one-third the size. As we evolved, our brain became larger and gained all the higher brain functions that we have now. Logic and deductive reasoning are among our higher functions. But the primitive man’s small brain mainly housed three things: our automatic system, our instincts, and our feelings. Our automatic system is the part of the brain that tells your heart to beat, and your lungs to breathe. Our instincts are automatic reactions that help us survive. It is the part of the brain that gets a baby to suck for food before it understands anything about this world. Finally, there are feelings. Feelings are also automatic and part of our survival. Feelings are messages that help us decide how to react to a situation. Even now, if we get angry enough…our higher brain functions can be shut down so that the primitive responses can take precedence.
The feeling of anger often triggers an instinct labeled the Fight or Flight response. When we become angry or afraid, our body gears up to either stand and fight or run away as fast as we can. Our heart beats faster, we breathe deeper; fat is sent to the blood for energy, and chemicals like adrenaline are released to get us ready for the task. This is why when we get angry; we can also feel revved up or aggressive. It is the body’s instinct to prepare for a fight or to run. The problem is in today’s society; we are not supposed to run or fight. Instead, we are expected to handle things in a calm and respectful way. But that is very hard to do when your instincts are telling you to fight or flee.
If you are finding it hard to control your feelings of anger or are responding to this feeling in a negative or destructive way; an experienced professional counselor can help you learn new skills for dealing with this primitive feeling. Next week, I will continue my series on Anger Management.
If readers would like to read books on this subject, check out “Healing the Angry Brain” by Ronald Potter-Efron MSW, PhD. or “The Anger Workbook” by Les Carter and Frank Minirth.
My whole 8 part series on Anger Management along with other helpful articles can be found at www.suportivetalk.com To help calm down, listen to the CD, “Relax, Unwind & Sleep” You can also book a conversation with Vicki at the site.