The truth about anger management is that most people with anger problems attempt to resolve their anger issues by walking downwind from the problem, rather than turning around to walk into the wind of accountability and change. Of course, it’s much easier to continue along the downwind path of blame and broken relationships. Walking into the wind is hard work – it takes courage and conviction. But, until they turn their energy from blaming circumstances and others for their anger management problems, and walk into that wind of accountability, they won’t make progress.
These three anger management tips focus on self-development; self-awareness, self-management, and self-discipline. They can help people with anger management problems more fully develop their personal accountability and continue their journey in the right direction.
Anger Management Tips
1. Self-awareness: The practice of knowing what is going on in your interior world, rather than focusing on expending all your energy in examining and critiquing circumstances and others to explain why you get angry.
Socrates claims that “the unexamined life is a life not worth living.” Well, it may be worth living, but the unexamined life effects our satisfaction and peace in life. To examine the interior life, the life of our emotions, takes courage. Men have grown up believing that it takes strength and courage to hide emotions while projecting confidence with no fear. Men historically have been more comfortable facing their fears about the unknown when going to the moon or the Wild West; the exterior world. The new frontier for men is venturing into their heart and soul. Today, it takes more courage to pull back the curtain to reveal the little old man working the levers of the great powerful Oz, than it does to stay hidden or concealed. The work of self-awareness helps men know what they are feeling and why, so they can take the next step in anger management, manage themselves, rather than circumstances and others.
2. Self-management: The practice of responsibly distilling or releasing strong emotions rather than transforming all emotions into anger and expelling them destructively onto others. This is a process of letting go of trying to control circumstances and others while utilizing your resources to examine and control yourself.
Ironically, the biggest mistake in working on anger management is focusing too much on anger. Anger isn’t the problem. The problem is emotional mismanagement. Men have a tendency to transform all emotions such as fear, hurt, and shame into anger. Anger is a manly emotion that gives men power. Rather than feeling fear or shame, they power up to avoid those uncomfortable feelings and use anger as a shield or sword to protect themselves; often hurting others. The first step in anger management is to actually feel the primary emotion, rather than transforming it into anger. If it is truly a righteous or reasonable anger, then one can mindfully decide whether to work on distilling the anger through self-soothing strategies or responsible releasing strategies. Managing anger begins with self-awareness (i.e. what am I really feeling and why?), and then one can mindfully decide what are appropriate behavioral steps in the moment. Successful anger management requires good self-management.
3. Self-discipline: The practice of sustaining a self-improvement program so that you can get the support and strength you will need to walk into the wind of self-examination and self-management.
Walking into the headwind of self-examination and self-management is difficult work to sustain on one’s own. Unfortunately, men have historically prided themselves as rugged individualists. To ask for help is tantamount to being unmanly or weak. The idea being that a real man makes it on his own and if he doesn’t, it’s a sign of weakness or inferiority. Counseling is often viewed as something only women do. I believe this is a fallacy; an erroneous belief that keeps men stuck. Getting help with their anger by working with a therapist and within the safety of an anger management support group is no different than getting help with a golf swing from a golf pro, lifting weights at a gym, or receiving treatment from a doctor for a sore knee. But there remains an odd, exterior/interior dynamic going on. We, as men, can work on our exterior body without much shame, but to go inward is another thing. This is, however, the 21st century and there are new demands being placed on men and women. If men want to keep up in this fast-changing world, they’ll have to make some changes themselves or fall behind. I believe the fittest male is one who has the conviction and courage to journey into the new frontier of his heart and soul. And to recognize that it doesn’t have to be done alone, anymore than was exploring the exterior world.