People have been told all their lives that it’s okay to get angry. However, anger has no positive attributes. It upsets us and those around us. Anger prevents us from thinking logically and solving our problems.
Anger causes us to identify ourselves as victims. When we get angry it is always because someone or some situation has done something to us. Angry people feel victimized and helpless but convince themselves that they are in a superior position because they are right and the other person is wrong.
Anger also adversely affects a person’s health, including precipitating heart attacks, increasing blood pressure, and decreasing immunity to diseases. It is for these reasons that it is important to reduce the level of anger you experience.
Characteristics of Angry People
In my Brooklyn NY office and my telephone counseling practice it has been my experience that people who are angry about one situation tend to have difficulty with anger management in many situations.
People with anger management issues can be divided into two overlapping groups:
A) Controlling people who have a long list of expectations about how the world should work and how people should behave, and
B) Unassertive people who are anxious more often than angry. These people may get angry when they are quite certain that they have been taken advantage of or criticized. The flip side of unassertiveness is anger.
Changing the Perception of Anger
In treating people in my office and telephone counseling practice I have found that it is important to change a person’s conception of anger. I accomplish this by explaining how it is reinforced. This helps anger management patient’s to better understand and to avoid their anger.
People with poor anger management see their anger as justified and see it as being caused by others and/or situations not meeting their reasonable expectations. However, reasonable expectations are not necessarily rational. It’s reasonable to expect that a spouse will put the cap back on the toothpaste, but it is not rational to expect when they have consistently forgotten over the past twelve years. It is reasonable to expect good service in a restaurant, but it is not rational to expect good service every time.
People tend to equate getting angry with registering a complaint and attempting to change others’ behaviors. As time goes on and they have become angry repeatedly over the same situation or behavior, their anger only increases. They do not adjust their expectations and they become adamant that the disturbing situation must change. However, situations and behaviors rarely change in response to anger. People become more defensive and less flexible in response to anger.
Whether an individual chooses online counseling, telephone counseling or tradition in-office counseling, learning to be less angry may or may not help to change another person’s behavior, but at the very least it reduces the physical and emotional damage that anger brings.