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In Therapy: Working through anger (part 2)

In Therapy- Working Through...


Welcome to this week’s instalment of In Therapy.

This is part two of the mini-series dedicated to anger, one of the most difficult emotions for some of us to understand, feel and work through.

Last week we looked at what anger is, and how sometimes it is the only response to a person or situation. We also talked about anger as a communication, and how it is OK to express it and work through it.

This week I want to talk about how anger can be a motor for positive outcomes in your life, and how to work through anger.


1


Anger can be a motor for many positive things in life. We sometimes have to dig a bit deeper, or spend a bit of time in the angry phase in order to get to the positive outcomes of processing our anger.

Anger gives us energy – that adrenaline boost we get and all the bodily responses we have when we get angry, all are energy emerging from our minds and bodies that help us react to a particular person or situation. In cavemen times, these responses were vital for survival. Nowadays, it’s less important that we react like the caveman would to an imminent threat (a native from a different tribe or a wild animal), but we still carry those innate reactions within us.


2


One of the things that anger can do for us is help us be more creative. Here are a few things that working through our anger can help us achieve:

  • Has your manager told you to work harder or not paid enough attention to your work? Use the anger you might feel at this lack of recognition to generate more ideas for your manager
  • Think of creative solutions – problem solve in your job or in your every day life by thinking outside the box (anger can lead us to see the bigger picture as we will be less likely to think in our usual calm manner)
  • Find the motivation to do something new, something different, or something you’ve left on the side for a while.
    • That art project
    • That book you’ve wanted to write
    • That holiday you’ve wanted to take but haven’t yet
    • Apply for a new course or job
    • Make a lifestyle change
  • Find new ways of relating with people or situations that you know will make you angry
    • Use humour
    • Set clear boundaries
    • Remove yourself from some of those things that anger you and are no good for you
    • Keep a distance or get closer

Have you got any more ways in which anger can be helpful? Leave a message below!


3


Working through anger can be either easy or difficult, depending on the size of the problem or issue that made us angry in the first place. However, there are some things that might apply to most situations:

  • Acceptance is a first step in many situations, or one of the first steps anyway, to freeing yourself from the burden.
  • Talk to your anger, befriend it. I know, this sounds odd, right? Weren’t we trying to GET RID of it? Well, yes, but we can’t get rid of it unless we understand and give it the airtime it needs. You don’t decide if you want to be friends with someone by avoiding them and not even giving them a chance to present themselves as a potential friend, right?
  • Can you think about what is going on for you right now, at this point in your life when you are feeling angry? Might there be another emotion that is being masked by anger? (Anger is very clever and is good at hiding away other emotions that might be the real causes of your distress).
    • Have you been hurt by someone?
    • Are you feeling afraid about something or someone?
    • Are you feeling sad or depressed?
  • Placing the responsibility where it belongs is important, as it frees up space for you to forgive yourself for your involvement, to forgive others for their involvement and decide whether to continue the relationship or end it, as well as it allows you to work through the anger by pointing it at the right parties.
  • Be angry but also find the space to be compassionate and understanding towards those who have angered you, and even to yourself if you’ve angered yourself! (read my blog post on how I did this after making a mistake).
  • Explore present anger in the present but also in relation to the past – sometimes people or situations might remind us of something we were angry about in the past, and bring up the same or very similar reactions to these. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong for you to feel them, in fact it’s a great opportunity to re-visit them (maybe in the company of a counsellor) and work through any unresolved and unprocessed anger and other emotions from both the past and the present situation.
  • things you can do to work through it
    • writing in a journal
    • doing exercise
    • practice relaxation techniques (Breathing, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, quiet time)
    • talk to a counsellor, we are here to listen and help you work through those difficult feelings and thoughts.

I hope this mini-series has helped you get some more ideas on how to work through anger, how to understand this emotion and also how to channel its effects into positive outcomes for your life.

For more on anger, I recomment Nathan Gould’s blog, which has even more articles on the topic.


Do contact me if you want to schedule a session, or if you want to discuss what you’ve read in this post.


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