How angry do you need to get before you start to get yourself back in control? A client I recently worked with describes what happens for them when they lose it …
T: What goes through your mind? What thoughts do you recognise?
D: Killing, smashing the world up, anything, do you know what I mean. Burning the place down. When it goes that far and switches, I’ll take on a million men. I’ll fight anyone, I’ll do anything to them, I’ll do the most, in my head I’ll do the sickest thoughts you could imagine, without no regret.
Powerful isn’t it! That’s what anger can do when it’s left to grow, and in my research I’ve heard many other stories equally as powerful.
So what can help? Well, I’ve heard so many approaches to getting control over anger, some of which don’t actually make any sense. “Count to ten” they told one of my clients at an anger management class, which was pretty daft as he had already lost the plot, so this kind of rational thinking goes out of the window. ‘Direct it into something more productive’ is another empty suggestion, making a big assumption that becoming angry isn’t productive, which it can be.
How about thinking now of the last time you got angry. Imagine you are looking at yourself as if you were an invisible bystander. Listen to yourself and what you’re saying or shouting, look at your face and your body language. Notice the look in your eyes, and then ask yourself some questions. That person you’re looking at … you … what are they really saying? What is it they are really saying underneath? Are they really angry at that exact situation, or is it something or somebody else that they anger is about but has been held back from.
The best way to make sense of our emotions is to ask what the message is they are trying to give us. When you’re able to address that you’ll be surprised at how much more in control of your anger you can become.
Give it a go and let me know what answers you get below!