Living with someone who has anger problems can be very unnerving. Anger makes everyone uncomfortable, but what makes it even worse is never knowing what's going to make them blow. Despite this unpredictability, there are some common causes of anger problems.
Ironically, the person with anger management issues often times says the same thing -- they typically describe their anger as being unpredictable too and are unaware of what causes their anger (take a look at Do I Need Anger Management?).
One of the causes of anger problems is unrealistic expectations. Here's a post from our social media pages about expectations. Read the post and then I'll explain how it relates to anger management.
The statement in this image really nails it in describing one of the causes of anger problems -- "What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be."
A situation that triggered anger for a guy I was treating in anger management classes recently was helping his son with homework. The guy wanted to help his son, so that wasn't the problem. What triggered his anger was his expectation that his son should be able to understand the math problems the way he did. He placed his expectations for himself on to his son, and when his son didn't meet them (which happened each time) out came the anger.
As I said at the beginning of the above social media post, "Unrealistic expectations are one of the main causes of the pain in our lives." And for many of us this pain comes out in the form of anger.
So if expectations are one of the causes of anger problems, should we even have them? Yes. Expectations can be good for us; they help us to plan and be prepared. What makes expectations not good is when they're unrealistic.
The guy I describe above was being unrealistic in expecting his 13-year-old son to understand algebra the way he does. When I taught him how to change his expectations for his son, his anger wasn't triggered. As is usually the case, this guy's anger problems and what caused them was a lot more complicated than just 8th grade algebra. But learning to change expectations is one step towards successful anger management.
If you know someone with anger problems, share this post with them and ask them what they think. And if you're someone who struggles with anger (like me), take a look at your expectations and consider how they could be one of the causes of anger problems for you too.
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