Anger is one of the core emotions or feelings that human beings are hard-wired to experience whenever they are blocked from achieving a goal they have or an end result they wish to achieve. Anger Management is the process of learning how to deal with anger as a core emotion.
Everybody feels anger from time to time. Not feeling it can cause as many problems as eggshell exploding over minor frustrations, set-backs or obstacles placed between us and what it is we may want.
Some anger management programs try teach clients to be less angry. Often this works if people can learn to experience life events in a different way so as not to no longer activate those parts of the human brain that trigger anger in us. For example, rather than telling ourselves that a bad driver on the road is out to get us and make our day miserable we can tell ourselves that they probably were preoccupied with something else and did not even notice they were cutting us off.
But, sad truth is, some really explosive people don’t think about anything before they react to an anger trigger.
Instead, they just blow up, attack, rage, defend, etc before the thinking part of their brain even has a chance to save them.
What can anger management offer persons in this later category?
The secret lies in NOT trying to get rid of the anger at all. In fact, sometimes you get madder when people tell you no to be mad or keep asking you what you are mad about. (Did you even hear this when you were growing up: “get that mad look off you face, or I’ll give you something to be mad about.”?
The idea here is to let the anger occur AS A FEELING but not let it influence your behavior so strongly.
This process is called “diffusion.”
It means to do things to lesson the influence of the angry emotion on us.
Here are some diffusion techniques that really work:
1. Take a time out/ retreat. Do nothing for a few seconds when you have that strong anger feeling.
2. Label your feeling. Call it something like “That angry feeling”
3. Remind yourself that sometimes your brain tells you stuff that isn’t true, isn’t accurate, or is twisted. You do not have to believe what your brain tells you. Fact is, you cannot help what thoughts pop into that brain of yours. You also cannot prevent many of the feelings you have. Rather than fight your thoughts or feelings, learn to accept them, live with them, and deal with them. Just don’t act on them.
The whole idea is to separate you from your thoughts because you are more than your thoughts.
Learning to do this is one of the “tricks” we teach participants in our anger programs who are learning Tool #3- Respond instead of React. You can learn how to do this too and thus tame those natural angry feelings instead of trying to get rid of them.