Anger is not the real problem

I just love it when my fellow colleagues offer their thoughts on this blog.  I get to work with some of the neatest people I know who have some of the most brilliant ideas…today Maryann H. Friesen shares some of her experience and story with us.

This past year I had the privilege of doing anger management work with individuals!

I love it and this surprised me.  I learn so much each time I go through the program with someone.  I have learned a lot over the past twelve months and had to dig deep.  

I often found myself in similar situations to those of the person who was sitting across from. That is the one of the side benefits about the work that we get to do at therapiststst.each day can be a tremendous personal growth opportunity.

Anger is necessary and good in many situations and circumstances it can motivate us and drive us to do well in the world, seek justice or protect.  

But when anger is too intense for too long and starts to wreck lives or hurt others, it definitely is a problem.

But rarely is anger the real problem. 

Like, for instance, as I dug deeper into this idea, I found a strong pattern in my life where whenever I just really screwed something up I would snap–which usually means yelling and complaining a lot. Ouch.  

When I slowed it all down and took a closer look I found usually one of two things were lurking underneath:

Once I figured this out I was able to pursue anxiety management and shame resiliency and apply it to my own life.  Learning that shame and anxiety were underneath my own anger really helped me to get to the root of my outbursts.

As I began to deal with these more unacceptable and uncomfortable emotions I was able to make progress in my “snappiness” (which, let’s just face it, is a way to sugarcoat anger).

Anger management turned into anxiety management for me in some ways.   Deep breathing has been really helpful in getting my brain to shift out of the flight, flight, or freeze mode back into a calmer place where I can connect with myself and others.  From a calmer place I am able to often get clear about what is important to me and figure out
how to sort out what I need to.

Life doesn

Confronting my perfectionism is something that has also come up for me.  Striving to live well imperfectly is a challenge but I am trying to embrace a new Mantra:

I don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.  

This often means:

  • making more realistic goals and perhaps not pleasing others at my own expense.
  • simplifying and doing less I find myself not compromising myself too much of the time.
  • saying no is sometimes hard and uncomfortable but I rather be uncomfortable than angry or anxious.

Whether it is trying to be

  • a perfect mom,
  • bringing a creative gourmet gluten free low carb healthy homemade dish to the party or
  • trying to look like I have it all together without trying

…at the end of the day there is just too much on my plate and when I over function and try to do what no reasonable human being can than no good comes out of it.  I get easily frustrated and end up losing it for what seems like no reason in the moment.

Setting limits out of self-compassion and embracing my imperfections are things I am learning to do.  Living more simply and knowing my limits is great for my peace of mind.

I recently found a nifty app called Mindshift that has a ton of practical ways to deal with some of my anxiety that was under the anger.  I give it 5 STARS and refer it to
clients often.  Mindshift will help you learn:

  • how to relax,
  • develop more helpful way of thinking and
  • give you some great ideas about how to take charge of anxiety.

It has all sorts of great info related to Thinking Right, Chill out Tools and Active Steps right at finger tips. Check it out it is free! 

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