We all know what anger is, and we’ve all felt it – whether as a flutter of irritation or full-fledged fury. Anger is a completely normal human reaction to stress, anxiety or fear. When anger turns destructive, it can impact and even destroy relationships, cause problems in the workplace and affect quality of life.
Not only is anger a psychological state; it is also a physiological state. Anger triggers the “fight-or- flight” syndrome. Your heart rate goes up, blood pressure rises and stress hormones are released. When humans had to run from saber-tooth tigers, this response to threat was useful – but it doesn’t help much when you’re driving in heavy traffic. Since anger is normal, what are we supposed to do with it?
Anger is called a secondary emotion. People choose anger when they feel hurt, threatened or fearful. We create a safe, secure environment so that people are open to expressing themselves. Mutual respect is the foundation of the group.
Therapist Deborah Gesin, MS, LPC says, “The anger management group offered by Family & Children’s Services teaches the concepts of pro-social behavior and the ability to change your ways of thinking. Cognitive restructuring increases the ability to problem-solve, communicate effectively without losing your temper and learn new approaches to resolving difficulties.”
If mandated to attend an anger management program, it may feel like a punishment or something to be endured but the benefits of attending a group like this far outweigh those negatives.
Take, for example, Sean*. Sean was referred to the Family & Children’s Services Anger Management program by the court. He said, “At first, I didn’t want to be here, didn’t think I needed it. In group, we learned how to not let people get to us. I used that when I was having a stressful conversation with my ex-wife, and things turned out better than usual. I’m glad I came.”
So, take charge of managing your anger. Get help if you need it. We can’t predict events or circumstances; things will happen in your life that causes you to become angry. If your anger is impacting your relationships or causing problems in other areas, anger management classes should be considered.
*name changed to protect privacy