What is Anger?
Anger at a normal level, is felt in response to feeling that either you, or someone you love, or your property are under threat. Everyone experiences it at some time. Anger is at times a healthy human emotion and is actually quite useful when used productively. It sets off warning bells when we need to be alert and exercise self-care. It can be used to encourage us to stand up for ourselves and make what may be necessary changes in our lives.
Anger is not just an emotion, it can also feel physical. This is because it is part of the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response that helped us survive in primitive times. However, while we no longer have to fear bears or tigers when we leave our ‘cave’, what we may perceive as a threat is towards our identity or sense of self, which may result in the physical response of anger sometimes leave us feeling overwhelming.
When is Anger an Issue?
Anger, like any emotion, can be managed badly or allowed to become out of control. Anger becomes an issue when it is mismanaged. The consequences of this is that anger negatively affects you, your life, and those around you. This can include problems in your relationships, mental and/or physical health, and career. If your anger feels out of control, you may feel like there is nothing you can do about it. However, this is not true. You are not your emotion. With the help of a trained anger management therapist, you can learn to control your anger. It will take commitment and time from you, but the results of learning to manage your anger can be life changing. If left unchanged, anger (even repressed anger) can lead to mental health issues like depression and anxiety disorders. It can also turn into a sudden violent outburst. Anger that has turned into rage or violence, cannot only hurt you but those around you.
Research suggests that domestic abuse is often linked to anger issues. However, it is important to know the difference. Abusive behaviour is not just the result of uncontrollable anger. It is an attempt by the abuser to control someone else. If you are either a victim or perpetrator of domestic abuse and need help, please call or text the dedicated domestic abuse service available 24/7 365 days a year: womensaid.ie # 1800 341 900
What is Anger Management?
When undergoing Anger Management, you will learn how to recognise your anger and to deal with it in a way that is productive that won’t cause harm to you or to other people. It will involve learning to recognise your triggers, identify the signs you are getting angry, and learning how to be able to take affirmative actions to help you to control your anger and to deal with the situation you are facing in a useful way. It is not about learning not to be angry or to hold all of your anger inside. Repressing anger is also not productive in the long-term and can result in its own set of problems.
What Causes Anger Issues?
Research suggests that some people are born with an irritable personality. However, anger issues are usually a learned behaviour. The development of anger issues is usually in response to what you were taught about anger and/or emotions when growing up. Children who watched adults shout and throw things are more likely to grow up to become adults with anger issues. Being a child growing up with not being allowed to show emotions in your household, can also be the cause of anger issues. This may have resulted in you being taught to bottle everything up inside and were possibly put down if you tried to express how you felt. Years of repression can lead to rage. Anger issues can also be triggered or created as the result of traumatic experiences, including abuse and crime or other events that have left you feeling powerless. Stress can also lead to anger issues.
What To Do About Anger Problems?
If you or a loved one has identified you have anger problems, contact the Connolly Counselling Centre for anger management therapy, which aims to support the individual to change the way in which they deal with their anger. It will involve attending a trained anger management therapist for one-to-one private counselling sessions.
While anger problems develop over years, usually rooted in childhood, it is important to have a safe, supportive environment to learn to understand your anger, spot your triggers, and learn new ways of expressing your emotions. This may take a number of sessions, the length of which will be dependent on how you engage with the therapist and how deep-rooted your anger is. In some cases, the therapist may suggest you contact your G.P. where medication may be prescribed, such as anti-depressants, but medication is not a solution in and of itself.
Sharron Grainger is the lead Psychologist & Psychotherapist at the Connolly Counselling Centre and holds advanced certificate training in Anger Management.