Anger Management

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I provide anger management psychotherapy and counseling for anger issues.   Anger management is a skill that can be learned to make life easier.   Trying to keep anger from having a negative impact on your life requires more than brute will power.  It requires identifying your triggers, sorting out what has led to your anger and finding ways to get your needs met that don’t require exploding or suppressing your feelings.  Focused anger psychotherapy and counseling can help you learn how to make your anger work for you.  Effective anger management counseling can give you real anger control and can spare you the pain of abusing the people you love, losing opportunities and feeling bad about yourself.

The purpose of your anger is to protect you.  When you are feeling abused or threatened or when your frustration builds too high, a switch in your brain changes over to fight or flight arousal.  This gives you tunnel vision towards what has gotten to you and makes a lot of powerful energy available to you.  If you couldn’t feel anger, you would be at a big disadvantage in protecting yourself. But like any powerful tool, you need to know how to use it. There are two general ways in which your anger can hurt you and those you love. I call these explosion and suppression.

Anger

Explosion is reacting while the angry energy passing through you is too hot to allow you to think. The part of your brain that can think, the cerebral cortex is kept out of the loop. You are actually operating from the early warning part of your brain, the limbic system. This part is fast but not very smart about what’s actually going on. Having continual explosions is rageholism, a situation where you are addicted to your own anger.

The fight or flight part of your brain is an early warning system.  It is meant to give you a jump on things. It was never meant to handle anything complex. Anger management therapy is meant to help you get the executive part of your brain back in charge.

Your first priority needs to be damage control by avoiding exploding or dumping on the people around you.  Try a deep breath or two to avoid reacting before you regain control.  Even one or two breaths will start to move the switch back to executive control.

Suppression is where you are so unwilling to admit that you are angry, that you stuff your feelings down inside. When you do that, the anger does not go away, but only goes underground. You do not lose the anger, you only lose track of it. Even though you may have told yourself that what happened doesn’t matter, your unconscious knows better.

Suppressed anger can go several ways. It can cause you to turn off, to shut down as far as your feelings towards the people around you. The cartoon at the top of this page shows a man who has shut down and the effect it is having on his family.  You can see that he is not having much fun either.  Having to shut down because of anger and resentment robs us of the pleasure in life.

Anger that is not addressed can also form into landmines which are prone to be triggered and to ambush the people around you.  Chronic unresolved anger has been implicated in numerous serious physical health problems. chronic anger drives other people away.

A significant component of depression is often anger turned inward.  Underneath blaming other people, depressed people often blame themselves.  One profound and perhaps unexpected result of good anger management therapy is the possibility that help handling anger will result in your liking and appreciating yourself more than you do now.

Even though it can be very unpleasant to admit to yourself just how angry you are, identifying the depth of your feelings can be a major step towards ridding yourself of uncomfortable and destructive anger.  A very important part of anger management is to sort through how much of your anger really comes from what is happening now and how much is baggage from your past. If you are carrying around anger from the past, people will trigger it now. You cannot solve that problem by beating on the current people in your life.

Neither can you solve the problem by beating on yourself.  Feeling guilty is a sign to you that something is wrong, but just feeling guilty will not improve things unless you take the next step.  You can improve this situation by learning what your triggers are, disarming them and creating some breathing room to develop new ways to handle what bothers you.

One more point worth making is to distinguish between two related but different aspects of anger.  The first aspect is what has provoked you to be angry.  We could be talking about something someone has said or done.  We could be talking about a bad memory that has surfaced.  No matter what has caused you to feel anger, how you choose to handle it is a different issue.  No matter what has made you angry, you still want to handle it in a way that does not hurt yourself or people you care about.  In other words, we shouldn’t confuse the object or source of your anger with the importance of handling it to your greatest advantage.

If you can reach Woodland Hills in the west San Fernando Valley I would welcome the opportunity to meet and focus on how you the individual you are can use the principals of anger therapy to help yourself.

Besides individual anger management counseling and psychotherapy, I offer anger management classes at Pierce College in Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley, please go to Classes I teach.

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