Despite many popular misconceptions, anger is a natural and even healthy human emotion that allows us to “ward off” perceived attacks or threats to our well-being and safety.
That being the case, if you or someone you know has an “anger problem,” the problem really isn’t anger per se but rather the unhealthy management of one’s anger.
One out of five Americans has an anger management problem. So, if you’re famous – or infamous – for having a short fuse and frequently getting into arguments and fights, you’re hardly alone.
Of course, none of us is perfect and we all let our emotions get the better of us from time to time. But there’s a world of difference between occasionally losing one’s temper and the chronic, explosive anger that causes serious conflict in one’s personal and professional relationships.
Fortunately, getting your anger under control can be easier than you think, and anger management counseling can help you understand the underlying reasons behind your explosive outbursts as well as learn the anger management skills and tools you need to better express and control your emotions and prevent anger from controlling your life.
Why Anger Management Is Necessary
As already mentioned, anger isn’t a problem in and of itself. It’s perfectly natural to feel angry when you’ve been harmed or wronged in some way. Anger only becomes a problem when it causes harm to you or others.
Many people believe that venting their anger is healthy, that their anger is justified, that other people are just too sensitive, or that displaying anger is necessary in order to gain respect.
Unfortunately, in most circumstances nothing could be further from the truth. Chronic, explosive anger is much more likely to:
- Harm your relationships with others – Recurring, severe anger can make it difficult for others to be comfortable with you, speak honestly, or trust you because they never know what is going to trigger your anger. Unpredictable anger can be damaging to any relationship, and is especially damaging to relationships with children who require a sense of consistency and stability.
- Adversely affect your physical health – Chronic, intense anger leads to high levels of stress that can make you more susceptible to heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, insomnia, and a generally weakened immune system.
- Impair your mental health – In addition to clouding your judgment and impairing your ability to concentrate, habitual anger can lead to stress, depression, and other mental health problems, as well as prevent your enjoyment of life.
- Hurt your career – An uncontrollable temper impedes the benefits of constructive criticism and healthy debate, and erodes the respect of clients, colleagues, and supervisors. To make matters worse, a reputation for impetuous anger can follow you wherever you go and harm your long-term career prospects.
If you’re prone to outbursts of anger, you may feel your anger is beyond your ability to control. However, you have much more control over your anger than you think.
Learning anger management skills and putting them into practice can take a lot of work, but anger management counseling can help you learn to express your anger without harming yourself or others. And the benefits of being able to do so are enormous.
The Benefits of Anger Management Counseling
In addition to helping you learn and practice anger management skills and tools, anger management counseling can help you cope with and overcome chronic anger by helping you:
- Understand the underlying reasons for your anger – Chronic anger often stems from behaviors we’ve learned as young children or as responses to high levels of stress or traumatic events. Anger is also commonly a subconscious mask for other emotions, such as insecurity, shame, vulnerability, or embarrassment. Anger management counseling can help you discover the source of your anger and develop emotional awareness so you can recognize, manage, and express the full range of human emotions in a healthy manner.
- Become aware of the warning signs and triggers for your anger – Because anger is a normal physical response, it produces physical warning signs that counseling can help you recognize. Additionally, most people’s anger management issues have more to do with their perceptions and interpretations of events than they have to do with events themselves. Counseling can help you recognize the thought patterns that lead to your anger and the warning signs that your temper is starting to rise so you’re better able to manage your anger before it gets out of control.
- Learn techniques to calm you down – Once you’re able to recognize the warnings signs and triggers for your anger, anger management counseling can help you implement a variety of mindfulness and relaxation techniques to calm down and keep your anger from spinning out of control.
- Practice healthier methods of expressing your anger – Only once you understand the underlying reasons for your anger and are able to acknowledge and express all of your emotions can you decide whether or not a situation warrants your anger. Anger management counseling can help you express your anger in healthy, respectful ways that effectively communicate your feelings and needs to others.
When Should You Seek Anger Management Counseling?
If your anger is hurting others or yourself, you should seek professional assistance as soon as possible. You should also consider counseling or psychotherapy if:
- Your anger is causing problems in your professional or personal relationships
- Your anger has lead to physical violence and/or trouble with the law
- You avoid certain people or situations because you’re concerned you won’t be able to control your temper
- You feel frustrated and angry with yourself and those around you no matter what you try to alleviate your feelings
A professional anger management counselor can help you understand your anger and learn to express it appropriately so you feel better about yourself, build healthier relationships, be more likely to get your needs met, achieve your goals, and live a more rewarding and satisfying life.
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