Living with Anger

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Let's face it...anger gets a bad rap. Many of us grow up being taught that anger is terrible and that we should not feel it. We definitely shouldn't express it. We come to believe that our need to express this intense and overpowering emotion means there must be something wrong with us. With these kind of messages how do we cope with anger in a way that allows us to hold onto our self esteem and feel hopeful about the future?

 

Anger is an emotion each one of us is programmed to feel. When we experience angry thoughts and feelings we can feel shame and embarrassment. It is important to understand that feeling the emotion is normal. The problem is what we do with it.

 

Not feeling comfortable expressing yourself and avoiding potential conflict can result in anger becoming internalized, where it has the power to hurt us. This means that not telling people you are unhappy with them or that you disagree can cause problems almost as much as blowing up and throwing things can. 

Of course yelling and screaming causes trouble too. It can undermine our relationships with friends and partners and create problems at work. The most important thing to remember is that even if you come from a family famous for explosive tempers, or a family where no one said what they were really feeling, even if you've struggled all your life it is still possible to make a change in the way you feel and express anger.

 

When choosing an anger goal for therapy, be realistic. Do not select "not feeling angry" because this is not possible. We should feel angry and anger can actually help us do the things we need to do sometimes. It is not a bad emotion. Choose instead to express your anger in a way that makes more sense to you...in ways that do not hurt you or the people you care about. This is an achievable goal.

I have been treating anger for the past 26 years. For the last 10, I have been using the Anger Solutions approach in combination with narrative therapy with my clients. The Anger Solutions approach is a respectful intervention that empowers and does not shame. I believe so much in it that I am an Anger Solutions Trainer, and the only one in Newfoundland and Labrador.

All therapy requires taking a good look at your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and being ready to make changes. If you are ready to move forward into a new direction with anger expression, call me. Let's begin.

For more information about my approach using Anger Solutions, check out the article I wrote in 2011 for our professional newsletter on pages 5 and 11 :

http://www.nlasw.ca/sites/default/files/inline-files/ConnectingVoices2011-07.pdf