Dealing with regular outbursts of anger–especially when they’re directed towards our loved ones–can be extremely distressing for everyone involved. Sometimes a person may feel resentment building and just waiting to erupt at a final perceived slight, while other times their anger may surge out in a flash unexpectedly. However their anger occurs, they may well quickly feel a sense of remorse but sadly also a nagging anxiety that they won’t be able to prevent such an outburst from happening again. To their great dismay they may proclaim outwardly that they will change while inwardly feeling powerless to do so.
If this pattern sounds familiar, you are in the right place. Therapy can help you better understand the sources of your anger and get the tools you need to manage anger more effectively. It can also help you address and resolve the underlying sources of your anger.
Anger is a natural emotion that allows us to set boundaries, assert our needs, and challenge in-justices. In and of itself there is nothing unhealthy about anger. In fact many people benefit from learning how to access and express their anger. Unfortunately, sometimes issues with anger can cause it to come out in ways that are aggressive and potentially destructive. Here are some signs that a person may benefit from therapy for anger management:
Frequent Outbursts: If a person often has explosive bouts of anger that seem disproportionate to the situation.
Impulsive Reactions: Individuals who react impulsively and negatively, without pausing to consider the consequences.
Trouble at Work or School: If anger is causing problems at work or school, like conflicts with coworkers or disciplinary actions.
Damaged Relationships: If a person’s relationships are clearly suffering because of their anger.
Legal Problems: If a person’s anger has led to legal issues, like assault charges or domestic disputes.
Substance Use and Volatility: If a person is frequently experiencing bouts of intense anger while under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
Remorse After Outbursts: If a person regularly feels regret or guilt after an angry out-burst.
Feeling Out of Control: If a person feels they have no control over their anger, that it’s controlling them rather than the other way around.
Others Express Concern: If friends, family, or colleagues express concern about a person’s anger.
Therapy can greatly improve a person’s ability to understand, manage, and constructively express their anger. Some of the main ways that therapy can help with anger management include:
Understanding the Connection Between Trauma and Anger: Oftentimes anger can come out in ways that are disproportionate to the situation at hand because a person is triggered. Therapy can help a person better understand how hurtful experiences in past relationships have sensitized them to the possibility of those experiences recurring in current relationships. This sensitization may cause them to react aggressively to protect themselves when those experiences do arise. Therapy can help a person better differentiate past from present and develop more constructive, assertive responses to triggering experiences.
Understanding the Connection Between Anxiety and Anger: Underlying anxiety is often the reason that anger comes out intensely and aggressively. Therapy can help a person understand their anxiety so that they can stop reflexively acting it out and instead learn how to reduce it.
Increasing Emotional Insight and Flexibility: People are often uncomfortable having and expressing the full range of human emotions, a difficulty that is often gendered from how society conditions people. While women often find it more difficult to access and express anger, men often struggle to feel and share sadness. When a person is hurting but cannot understand and express these feelings, they may instead act those feelings out aggressively. This is particularly apt to manifest in pushing others away. Therapy can help a person better understand ways in which they need care and support, and help them learn how to express themselves in ways that elicit that care from others.
Understanding the Connection Between Expectations and Anger: Sometimes a person may have expectations of others that are rooted in their own life experiences, but which may not be helpful to hold others to. Therapy can help a person recognize what their unconscious expectations of others are, and when these may be creating tension in relationships. It can also help people better empathize with others so they can develop more constructive expectations that foster connection rather than aggression.
Facilitating Better Understanding and Communication: Many times a person’s issues with anger are at least in part a result of misinterpreting what others are saying to and expecting of them. Therapy can assist a person in getting a clearer sense of what others are really trying to communicate and can prevent misunderstandings from turning into conflicts.
Through the avenues described above, therapy can empower a person with the insight and tools they need to more effectively manage anger issues, positively impacting their relationships, work life, and overall sense of well-being. Reach out and let’s talk about how I can help you feel in charge of your own anger.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking with which they were created.” - Albert Einstein
Many other emotional difficulties can either contribute to or exist alongside struggles with anger management. Trauma often leads to people to be constantly on edge, increasing the intensity of their anger. People with underlying anxiety may be prone to having intensified anger responses to others. Low self-esteem and depression can both increase a person’s sensitivity to rejection and fuel heightened anger.