Anger Management

anger managementThe phrase “anger management” is, to me, a misnomer, because it suggests that the emotion or feeling of anger needs to be managed. In point of fact, anger, like all feelings, emerges spontaneously in response to different situations, and it provides useful information about your relationship to the world in which you finds yourself. The goal with anger, as with all feelings, is to use it to live a better life. It cannot – and should not – be “managed.”

On the other hand, what you choose to do with your anger can, in fact, be managed, and often much better than it generally is. Hitting, screaming, sulking, and ranting, among other approaches, are ineffective ways of communicating feelings, and they often cause more problems than they solve. Talking through what triggered the anger is far more effective, but trying to do so leads to the following paradoxical conclusion: in order to manage the behaviors, it is better to feel the emotion. So the best approach to “anger management” involves “unmanaging” your feelings and managing your behavior.

One more thought: anger is generally a “second-order” emotion. That is, it is not normally the initial response to an incident or a situation, but rather the response to the response. Most often, the initial response is hurt, but it can also be fear, shame, sadness, or any other unwanted or unbearable emotion. One of the most effective means of understanding anger is, therefore, to locate the primary feeling and talk it through. As a rule, by doing so, the anger will dissipate by itself. This approach, then, is very helpful if you have trouble controlling your behavioral responses to anger. If you can identify the hurt or other primary response, you can manage your behavior far better than otherwise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *