Anger is a normal emotion and often a necessary one. We’ve all experienced it and when handled correctly it can even be useful at times. Anger can help motivate people to right wrongs, or make needed changes either for themselves or society. Unfortunately, for some, anger goes beyond that, however. People can struggle with an anger problem and the appropriate management of those feelings.
Anger problems that go unchecked can lead to a lot of difficulties in a person’s life and make happy and healthy relationships hard to sustain. At Guy Stuff we often work with people struggling to deal with anger problems. For some the issues have gone on for years and have caused problems in many aspects of their lives. Below is a question from just such a person and my response to him.
How To Handle Life Long Anger Problems
I've been struggling with an anger problem for years. Over the course of the last year and a half or so, it's gotten worse. I've got a wonderful wife who has been amazing, but I'm at the end of my rope. My inability to understand or even control my anger is tearing my life to pieces. Please help me." -Brian O.
Brian isn’t that different from many of us. Anger problems that aren’t addressed tend to worsen over the years and, unfortunately, families can get caught in the cross-hairs. The impact can be very destructive and have a ripple effect. The problems can also multiply. If a parent has anger issues that aren’t controlled a child is likely to as well. As you will see from my response below I know firsthand how disruptive anger problems can be.
I've been where you are -- I've got an anger problem too (although it's successfully managed now though), and at one time I didn't understand where my anger came from nor had a clue how to control it.
For many of us with anger management problems, anger comes out of nowhere and overwhelms us like a tidal wave. This is particularly true for us men. I've found in my counseling work with men that most of us, including myself, are only aware of our emotions when they're at extremes -- like angry or excited. Even then, our awareness often only occurs after the fact and with feedback from others, such as our wives.
This lack of awareness can change though. It's just a result of us not being dialed in to the right frequency. Anger management is much like adjusting the tuning on a radio. Once you know how to adjust the frequency, know which frequency you're looking for, and what's blocking your reception, you can get the station you want loud and clear.
Here's the two prong approach I've developed for men in my anger management classes:
- Management -- Learning how to manage your anger. I teach anger techniques specially designed for how men work. Once you're using the right anger management techniques you're half way there.
- Prevention -- Discover what's contributing to your anger. This element is absent from most anger management classes, but without it you'll never be successful. It's crucial to learn the things, past and present, which feed your anger.
Why Managing An Anger Problem Is Necessary
An uncontrolled anger problem can lead to both emotional and physical problems. The amount of stress and tension that consistent anger causes can lead to issues like high blood pressure, sleep disruptions, and digestive issues. And, without proper management, the potential for anger to escalate to the point of becoming either verbally or physically abusive is strong.
Many marital struggles that couples face stem from one partner (sometimes both) dealing with unmanaged anger. Brian is a prime example of just that. His anger issues seemed to have very little to do with his wife, but they were still affecting her and his marriage in a negative way.
These issues won’t go away on their own, however. If you’re like most of us you’ve tried to handle your anger on your own and failed. Most likely over and over again. Learning to control your anger and how to make positive changes takes time, work and help. It can happen though – I’m a good example of that. But most of the time it takes the assistance of a professional counselor to get lasting results.
If you'll learn management and prevention, I guarantee you'll join myself and thousands of other men who "used to" struggle with an anger problem.
Do you have a question you'd like to Ask a Marriage Counselor? Click here to submit it and I'll answer it in an upcoming post. Be sure to subscribe to this blog in the box at the bottom of this page so you'll get my answer as soon as it’s published.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published February 18, 2010. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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