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Anger Management – Leave your Shame at the Door

On a recent news broadcast, a therapist claimed that in this country we are experiencing an “anger epidemic.” There were statistics quoted and reasons cited such as financial hardship, increased workload to make ends meet, crowds and traffic, all leading to more stress. As an experienced therapist who provides anger management, I find that stress and anger go hand in hand and the joining can be both inwardly toxic and outwardly explosive.

One of the first goals in anger management is to ease shame by separating  behavior from one’s character or inner self. If expressing anger has brought negative consequences, you have likely been blamed and labeled as “the problem” in an intimate relationship or in connection with family, friends, co-workers, etc. While regretful incidents or long term relationship difficulties inspire seeking help, it’s not about simply confronting a person’s behavior. We need to go deeper and in doing so, we often find sensitivity, emotional pain and loss, and a far more complex picture to examine than that of a raging guy or gal.

Everyone has a handful of triggers in their emotional worlds that are difficult to tolerate when they are sparked by situations, and we feel seriously threatened in the primitive/survival portion of our brain. If you feel your heart racing, muscles tightening, pressure in your head, or other physical changes, you may be flooded with adrenaline and stress hormones, which make your ability to remain calm, think logically and control your impulses very difficult.

Anger Management Counseling

The commitment to doing the anger work is a good indication of the desire to take responsibility for the effect thoughts and feelings have on your behavior. The desire to change motivates real effort and in turn, results.  In my work with couples, families and individuals, I bring the core principles of anger/stress management into working on improving communication. Carrying a stress load or allowing triggers to ignite over-reaction, makes expressing ourselves without aggression and accepting someone else’s different viewpoint challenging.

In exploring your outbursts, we find the links between a current interaction which, when looked at calmly might not seem like a justified reason for anger, but which brings up a deeper, harder to handle feeling. There may be issues of childhood pain, self-esteem, fear, or other vulnerabilities which lead to using anger as a defense or coping mechanism which may help push the stress away temporarily, but has long lasting consequences. While negative behaviors have brought you into session, by engaging in stress relieving activities, learning to slow your impulses, gaining deeper awareness and practicing communication techniques, you will see positive results. Do we have an anger epidemic today? Perhaps, but I commend you for making a start in changing tomorrow.

My counseling practice in Manhattan, NYC, offers a space where you can begin to address your anger.  Please contact me for more details.

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Joan Warren, LMFT

Joan Warren Therapy

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