With so many drastic changes having been forced upon us over the last six months, feeling angry, frustrated, and sad are natural responses. The stress of the unknown combined with the feeling of not being in control can have a profound impact on our psyche. For some of us, these responses can spin out of control, manifesting into larger problems which impact not only ourselves, but also those around us. When this happens, seeking assistance from an experienced counsellor can help.
Holding onto anger is unhealthy
Everyone experiences moments of anger in their lives as a normal and honest reaction to situations which are beyond our control. Thanks to the coronavirus, this year has provided plenty of food for anger, from the continued threat of lockdowns, to job changes and job losses, to the stress and worry of getting sick or needing to care for others. Even if your individual situation isn’t that bad, you are still allowed to feel angry and upset by what is happening.
Once we accept that our anger is natural, the next step is to acknowledge it and release it in a way which doesn’t injure ourselves or others. For some, this is the sticking point. They may hold onto their anger until it builds in complexity, resulting in an explosive release. For others, the pandemic may exacerbate existing experiences with trauma, generating anger that is fuelled by multiple fronts. If you are experiencing complex anger, you may need help working through the underlying issues and identifying ways to manage your anger.
How to identify that you need help
There are some common questions which you can ask yourself to identify whether anger management sessions could be right for you. The first is to assess your speed to anger. Are you leaping to anger at the first provocation? Is your emotional response to challenges and setbacks in line with the size and scope of the problem, or do you more often overreact?
You should also consider whether you regularly find yourself taking situations personally, causing you to become defensive. Are you quick to blame others, reacting negatively if things don’t go the way you hoped, or you don’t get your own way?
These can all be signs that you could benefit from anger management therapy.
How anger management therapy works
Anger management therapy takes a positive approach to dealing with anger, allowing you to develop a set of tools you can use to identify when your anger is getting out of control, and to step in before it happens.
Through therapy, you can learn how to develop positive skills and interventions to support your anger, along with positive ways to express it. This includes things like identifying triggers, early awareness of anger, and effective skills and interventions you can use.
One common technique used in anger management sessions is mindfulness. Mindfulness is an ancient wisdom that remains relevant even today. It is essentially a way of paying attention: focussed, with purpose, staying in the present moment and withholding all judgment. Through regular practice, mindfulness helps individuals recognise, slow down or stop automatic and habitual reactions like anger. You learn how to see situations more clearly, becoming more creative and effective in your response to complex or difficult situations. This can help you find balance and resilience at work and at home.
Why you should seek anger management therapy now
The stress and uncertainty associated with the coronavirus pandemic is unlikely to disappear in the near future. Although we all hope that a vaccine or effective treatment options will arrive soon, there is no guarantee this will happen. We need to act now to address the impact of long-term stress and anxiety. If you show signs of complex anger, there is no benefit to delaying getting the support you need.
During anger management therapy, or anger training as it is sometimes called, a trained and experienced therapist will support you to better understand your triggers. They will teach you how to gain a better understanding of your thoughts, emotions and behaviour and how you respond to them. Over the course of the session, you will learn to bring a more mindful approach to day to day life. Most importantly, your therapist will help you learn how to press pause and consider what to do next.
Anger, when left to grow and explode, can have a severe impact on our relationships with friends, family and colleagues, as well as drive a negative perception of ourselves. By identifying you need help, and learning how to manage your angry reactions, you can improve your own life and the lives of those around you.
Owner and lead counsellor of Hope Therapy and draws upon various approaches including CBT and Mindfulness.