Not everyone that gets angry a lot gets angry in every area of their life. Some only get angry at home, some only at work, and some only on the road - and some with just one person. But what makes this an issue is how often it happens and, perhaps, how out of control it feels.
If you are a person struggling with your own anger, a couple where either one or both of you fires off, a family where one individual seems to be 'the problem' or you are the subject/victim of someone else's anger, here are a few pointers that might help you understand what's going on.
Anger is your healthy response to feeling threatened - or another way to say the same thing is; you only become angry when you feel threatened. For you and for others, what appear to be random acts of rage have their root in the perception of threat. At the moment you are probably focused on who or what made you angry and I am asking you to focus instead on the threat that is triggering you.
When you're in the middle of an episode, your anger might be threatening to others and you might feel invincible (or that you don't care), but the cases where someone gets angry without first feeling or believing themselves to be under threat are very rare indeed and most often will involve some form of brain injury.
BUT; whatever you are finding threatening today is probably not what is causing your anger to be so overpowering - more likely is that it is reminding you of something you really fear. That is why so many people, in answer to the question: "what made you angry?", will say, "oh it was some trivial thing, I can't even remember what it was now". What triggered the episode might have been trivial, but the actual cause was a much more serious threat to you.
Many people that become enraged seem afterwards to say that whatever it was that got them angry was trivial - so small that they cannot now remember what it was.
If you got angry - that angry - it wasn't trivial, it was a big deal and whatever it was needs to be understood and resolved. Otherwise, it'll happen again, and again, and again, and again.
Make a pact with yourself and your loved ones that, after the waters have calmed, the red mist has cleared and you feel safe again, you will work your way back to what happened and try to understand what triggered you - it is a signpost that points to what is troubling you and therefore, to your path to recovery.
Anger is a family business.
It really is. Most people that struggle with anger as an adult do so for a number of reasons - perhaps because they themselves were raised in an unsafe, angry household, or perhaps they suffered a life trauma at an early age. Also, we learn about the expression of anger in our childhood and that can mean that if we weren't given a healthy model for expressing anger, we are more likely to struggle ourselves.
Trauma in our lives can have the outcome that we become angry. How we express that anger tends to reflect how we saw anger being expressed or dealt with in our own childhood.
That does not mean that a child in a violent household will go on to be violent. But it does mean they are at higher risk of having difficulty expressing their anger safely. I have worked with some very violent people and without exception, they came from violent or traumatising beginnings.
But it goes far beyond violence. If anger was expressed in your family by cutting you off or 'Sending You to Coventry', you might find you do something like that yourself now when you are angry, or will find that if someone does that to you, you go into an inexplicable rage.
Anger is a family business.
There is little point in blaming yourself.
And there is little point in getting into the blame game in general but, there is a lot to be gained from understanding where this really came from. That's one difference between blame and responsibility.
The most important thing to do is take responsibility for your recovery. If you have finished up with a destructive, angry outcome, your life is probably pretty grim and you, I am, guessing, are very alone. Whatever happened, it cannot be your fault that your received a trauma serious enough to leave you feeling always on the alert, constantly vigilant and ready to fight or flee.
But you are the one and only person that can change how you are today and tomorrow. That is what true responsibility is. You do not need to take responsibility for what was done to you - in fact, the sooner you stop blaming yourself for that, the sooner you will be free to take responsibility for what you do about it.
You are not to blame for what they did to you and only you can take responsibility for what happens now.
It won't be easy. And it will take time.
In essence, I don't work from the perspective that extreme or explosive anger can be 'managed'. When triggered, the level of anger that damages lives and futures (and has no concern for consequences), is coming from Fight, Flight, Freeze - a survival response from the most ancient part of our being - and, as you might imagine from that description, a part that is not amenable to being managed. Of the many people I have worked with who have struggled in these ways, most are doing themselves and others harm because they deny their anger until it burst through with all the fury of an animal under attack. While such a powerful and ancient response is underway, it is your anger that is in charge, not you - it even takes blood away from your brain to supply your muscles, so thinking your way through it will be a challenge to say the least and you might find that your memory of the episode is patchy for the same reason.
When the struggle is with the more chronic, simmering hostility that some people suffer with, the denial or preference for anger being ignored or hidden has different, but in most ways similarly destructive outcomes.
An early focus is recognising and allowing your anger to exist and even more, honouring its presence and recognising the reason that it is so strong in you. That's not at all the same thing as saying it is okay to become destructive. It isn't. But it is okay, healthy, necessary even, to be angry sometimes.
If you are very angry, there is a message in what you are experiencing - one that will lead you to your personal place of healing. If you are angry, it is for a reason. Seeing that and seeing what is really making you feel this way will help you move toward resolving it and separating your anger in the here and now from the past traumas and hurts you have almost certainly suffered.
Next Group; see here: [Next Group]
See also Anger Groups
The group runs through the weekend and starts on Friday evening. Anyone attending should plan to attend all sessions.
Charges for 2014 weekend groups are £425.00 for early bird booking and £475.00 after that - covers weekend and includes basic refreshments.
Unfortunately, we cannot offer accommodation but there are several decent hotels in the area.
Domestic violence covers far more than one-on-one violence inside a relationship. It extends to include domestic abuse, often seen in controlling behaviour, put downs, derogatory attitudes and failures of love and respect. If your arguments become fights and your fights become physical, I will still see you. But I will be clear about the boundaries and rules and am bound by my personal as well as professional code to raise anything that makes me concerned for anyone's safety.
I do not make a distinction between abuse by men toward family members and abuse by women. Difficulty with anger can frequently lead to or overlap with domestic abuse. If you are the person that is lashing out, coming to see me is a realistic way to initiate change. I don't judge, I support and I know you are like this for a reason.
If, however, you are a victim of serious and sustained domestic abuse, I recommend that you deal with your safety first, and resolve the anger later. This is even more important if children are at risk.
Most aggression in a family is really focused on control, power and safety. The person being violent or abusive feels unsafe and makes themselves feel safe by being abusive. While definitely including battering and physical attacks, the world of family and relationship violence and abuse extends far wider. For that reason, when considering if you have a problem and what to do about it, it is helpful to look beyond the obvious and take in the full extent of the problem.
Typical issues that arise in my work and that should be given closer attention include:
If your anger is violent, then you need help.
Violence is an expression of anger and of power. But then, from where I sit, most forms of anger are an expression of power. We seldom feel as powerful as we do when we are angry. Unleash the full fury of a human animal in a rage, and we will see the primitive, unthinking ancestor that will win or die and care little for the space in-between.
If you are violent, then in almost every case I have seen, you have known violence or violation yourself. If you have been brutalised by another, it doesn't have to make you a monster, or make you cruel. But it might, so the sooner you make the decision to get clean (yes, it's a lot like being an addict), the sooner you can begin the journey back to the fulfilled and loving life you should always have had.
I will work with you if you have been or are violent. The thing that matters is that you want to change and are prepared to do the difficult work on yourself that can make that possible.