Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone, and later wondered what you were so upset about? Felt a strong rush of emotion, and said or did things that you later regretted, and couldn’t figure out why you said or did the things you did?
Anger is a normal and often healthy emotion. Anger is information, it tells us to be aware of some threat before us. Anger can give us the energy, through the release of adrenaline, to deal with that threat. The problem is that we can often feel levels of anger that are out of proportion to the threat before us. Another problem that can occur is that when we feel the threat, our bodies go into ‘flight/fight’ mode. The blood flow goes to the muscles, and away from the internal organs, our brain included. The blood vessels in the thinking part of the brain actually constrict limiting blood flow. When you wonder what you were thinking when you said that thing you did when angry, your brain wasn’t working fully. The problem is not so much what we feel, but how we behave when we experience the feeling of anger.
People have told me that a lot of the “anger management” techniques they have been told to use don’t work (just breathe, count to 10, etc…). That’s because when we are very angry we aren’t thinking straight. We are not able to think about how to use those techniques.
My approach is to teach how to manage one’s behavior before the anger level gets to the point of brain shut-down. Learning improved cognitive skills, management of physical symptoms, overall physical health improvements, and improving interpersonal skills can make a significant impact on one’s ability to manage anger. Over 20 years experience of using this approach to help people struggling with managing their anger have shown this approach to be successful.