An introduction to Anger Management
It probably goes without saying that anger can be an intense emotion. We always like to start our exploration of anger by asking our students to imagine that their experience of anger is a real person they know in their lives. Take a few moments and think about this person — try to flesh him out and make him into a real character that shows up in your life. (We’ll call him a “he” just to make it easy, but your Anger could very easily be a she or an it).
What does he look like?
How does he dress?
How does he move his body when he moves?
What are his facial expressions like?
Now take a few moments and think about your relationship with Anger.
Is it cordial?
Is it combative?
Are you on speaking terms?
Are you more like old friends, or old enemies?
When you’re not feeling your experience of anger, where does Anger typically hang out?
In your back pocket?
In the corner of the room ready to spring to action at any moment?
Very far away on the other side of the country?
When Anger comes to you, how do you typically greet him?
With a warm hug?
By trying to push him out of the room as fast as possible?
We believe that there’s no use trying to “manage” your experience of anger until you have a very clear understanding of what your anger is. What brings it on? How do you know it’s there when it’s there? How does the experience make you feel before, during and after? These are all questions we will explore.
We also don’t think it’s very helpful to try to get rid of your experience of anger. Oftentimes, that’s our impulse: this thing doesn’t feel good, and it doesn’t lead to good consequences, so I must get rid of it as quickly as possible. The problem with this is that it never works. As you may have learned, it’s an ineffective strategy.
We believe it’s much more important to transform your relationship with anger. Rather than getting rid of it, we will teach you how to recognize it, how to learn from it, and how to make it into a manageable emotion that works for you, and not against you.
What is anger?
Anger on its own is just an emotion — not negative, not positive, but just an emotion. Like all emotions it has its own energy and its own experience that unfolds in your body. Anger affects the mind as well as the body. It may show up in your body as clenched fists or jaw, a flushed face, a racing heart; you may feel your blood is boiling, and/or that your breathing becomes faster. Everyone has experienced anger and it can range from a mild annoyance to furious rage.
It is important to note that anger in and of itself is not unhealthy. In fact, from a positive perspective, anger can work as a healthy warning system letting us know that something in our life is unbalanced, that we have been mistreated in some way, or that a need has not been met. Anger can also work as a motivator, motivating you to social action, to make a tough change in your life, or confront a situation that is unhealthy for you.
On the negative side of things, anger can be expressed using hostility, aggression, and violence which can cause harm to you and/or others.
Let’s Try an Exercise
Take a moment and call to mind the Anger-as-a-person-you-know idea that you created at the beginning of this lesson. Just by calling him to mind, we are guessing that your body went through a series of micro-changes: your heart rate sped up, your pulse quickened, some muscles probably slightly tensed and the little hairs on your arms may have stood up just a little. We’ll get more into those physical changes later in the course.
We’d like to ask you to politely ask your Anger to sit on the couch and take it easy for a moment. You might even offer him a nice, imaginary glass of iced tea.
Once he’s situated on the couch (our guess is that since you asked politely he went without too much fuss), try doing this:
-Call to mind a place that when you think of it, you feel totally at ease. Some people choose the beach, some a forest filled with birdsong, and others choose their comfy bed on a Saturday morning with nothing to do but rest. Whatever works best for you.
-Now fill in all the sensory details of that experience: When you look around, what do you see? When you listen, what do you hear? Are there smells in the air? What is the texture beneath your feet? What is the light like in the sky, or the room you’re in?
-After you’ve filled in all those details, take a few moments with your eyes closed, and really let yourself soak in the ease and relaxation of this place and this moment.
-Did you skip any of the steps above? If you did, take a risk: go back and really try to get into this. We promise you won’t be disappointed. We’ll give you a hint: by now you should have noticed either a slight or dramatic shift in your breathing and in your mind. Things have probably begun to slow down either a little or a lot.
-Now notice how your body feels. Find a place in your body that feels either calm or neutral. Sometimes people feel into their heart, or their temples, or their seat, or their ankles, or even their big toe. It doesn’t matter where, just make sure it’s not a place that’s carrying any tension.
-Let yourself soak up the feelings of relaxation present in that part of your body. You might even try to breathe very deeply and send your breathe to that place. With your eyes closed or your gaze pointed downwards, do this for a few more moments.
Now open your eyes. How do you feel? Imagine your Anger sitting on the couch watching you do this exercise. What does he think of all this?
Now imagine being able to tap into this sense of calm the next time you become angry. Imagine being totally triggered, and then stopping yourself and bringing yourself to this relaxed, centered place. This class will teach you how to do just that.
In this class you also will learn:
- What Anger Looks Like, Where it Comes From, and How to Recognize It
- How to Develop and Practice Emotional Intelligence, Empathy, Forgiveness, and Self-Control
- What is Assertive Communication, and How to Implement It in Every Aspect of Your Life
Understanding Types of Thought and Self-Talk
- How to Loosen the Grip of Anger: Cooling Down, Meditating, Acceptance, and Resolution
Can Anger Ever be Positive?
- The Many Different Forms that Anger can Take: Road Rage, Aggression/Abuse, Conflict at Work, and Conflict at Home
- How to Cultivate Self-Esteem
- How to Set Boundaries
- How to Be Honest with Yourself: Learn to Accept Yourself, Let Go, and Begin to Relax
- Why is it Important to Respect Others?
- What is Stress? How to Recognize It, How to Manage It, and How It Affects You in the Moment
- Time Management and Organization: Two Skills to Help You Manage Anger
- Putting What You’ve Learned in Action: Anger Management, Mediation, and Coping Skills
Why Open Path?
Get Access to our Full Catalogue of Courses
In addition to Anger Management, your $4.99 fee will unlock each of our mental health education courses. You will have access to courses in: Parenting, Co-Parenting & Divorce, Internet/Gadget Addiction, Stress and Anxiety Reduction, Drug and Alcohol Awareness, Domestic Violence Education, Healthy Relationship Building and Communication Skills.
All for just $4.99!
Open Path is an international leader in affordable psychotherapy and mental health education.
If you’re interested in learning more about your anger and working one-on-one with a trained, licensed, therapist, we can help you get connected with someone who can see you for just $30-50 a session. Most therapists charge over $100 an hour, so these are impressive discounts.
Many of our therapists see clients online, so if you can’t find a therapist available in your community, we can probably connect you with someone who will work with you through a video enabled program like Skype.
To learn more about our affordable therapy program, click here.
Gain access to our entire catalogue of wellness classes for just $4.99