Monday, March 30, 2009

When does Anger become a Problem?

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInIt is common these days to hear about people with "anger management issues". I even saw a blog the other day about "reverse anger management". It occured to me that perhaps this is a good time to clarify exactly what anger is, and when it becomes a "problem".

First, lets start with the definition of anger. Anger is NOT as many would like to believe - a behaviour or set of behaviours. Rather, anger is an emotion. It can range in intensities from mild irritation to red hot rage, and occurs naturally in every human being. Anger is a natural emotion, as natural as is happiness, sadness, and fear.

Anger serves a purpose - it is an indicator that there is something in our lives that is not right - that requires change, improvement, or attention. Anger has been the catalyst for major positive change in the world - take the Civil Rights Movement as an example.

Anger as an emotion is not something that can or should be managed or controlled. You don't manage love or joy, do you? Do you try to manage fear? Sure you do, but how successful are you with that effort? Emotions cannot be managed. They exist to be felt and experienced. Trying to manage anger is like trying to convince an empty belly that it is not really hungry.

Anger only becomes a problem at the point of decision. Let me explain. Whenever you experience an emotion, you make a choice about how you wish to express that feeling. When you're happy you may laugh or you may cry. You may even do both. When you are afraid, your body's physiology will respond accordingly, but you may choose to fight or you may choose to flee. When you experience anger, the same is true. You will experience the physiological response, but you will also make a choice about what do do with your feelings. Some people bottle up their emotions in an attempt to "control" them. This approach may work in the short run, but often results in serious illness as the body reacts to the extended containment of negative energy. Some people allow their emotions to spill all over - with tears, or with cursing, and other aggressive behaviours. Most of these choices occur at the subconscious level - thereby causing the average person to believe that anger and the behaviours that accompany it are one and the same.

This much is clear: that what people do with their anger is not the same as the anger itself. Anger only becomes a problem when the people experiencing it make poor choices about how to express it. Then, those people do not need a crash course in how to "manage" their anger; they need to be taught a decision making model so that they become conscious about their feelings and the choices they make around expressing those emotions. An ancient proverb says (and I'm paraphrasing) - if you take a man fishing, he will eat for a day; if you teach that man to fish, he will eat for life. Anger Solutions is about teaching you to fish. We teach you how to evaluate each anger-inducing situation; how to make right decisions; and how to behave in ways that will generate positive outcomes.

Want to know more? Visit our website: to learn about Anger Solutions - the single best alternative to traditional anger management in the world.