I get calls all the time from people wanting help with anger management. I offer to meet with them. I help them the best I can.
Let me tell you a secret: I don’t believe it’s anger that needs to be managed.
People call it anger management because that’s the name for it, but what they really mean to do is prevent violence. They’ve done something that scares them. They’ve lost control and hurt someone, or broke stuff, or said hurtful things and they’re in trouble. They’re afraid it’s going to happen again, as they should be. They should be afraid; very, very afraid.
However, they should be afraid of their violence, not their anger. Anger’s like the idiot light on your car that tells you that something needs your attention. If you saw that light glowing on your dashboard saying TEMP or OIL, you would get it check out, right? You wouldn’t go on driving as if you never saw it, you would take care of things.
When you feel some anger, that’s your clue that something’s not right. It’s time to slow down or stop what you’re doing and see what’s the matter. What is the matter? Oh, I don’t know, it could be lots of things. Maybe there’s injustice afoot. Maybe you’re expecting too much. Maybe you’re tired and cranky. Maybe it’s not that little straw that’s breaking the camel’s back, maybe it all the rest of the load that’s weighing you down. You’ll have to figure it out. The point is, it’s not the light that’s the problem. The light, the anger, is just telling you there’s a problem. Don’t put tape over the idiot light, you idiot.
I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to call you an idiot. I should know better than to talk that way to someone who needs to read about anger management.
Before we get too far, did you notice that feeling you got when you thought I called you an idiot, that feeling you call anger? You cannot stop that feeling from appearing any more than you can stop people from knocking on your door.
If someone knocks at your door, do you always let them in? Do you offer coffee to every Jehovah Witness, every Girl Scout selling cookies, every campaigning politician? Do you let them move in, raid your refrigerator, sleep in your bed, and take over your house? Of course you don’t; and, just because anger comes knocking and all those dark, murderous thoughts come to mind, it doesn’t mean you have to entertain them.
Let me put it another way. You can’t stop your feelings any more than you can stop your toenails from growing: but you can clip them, and I hope you do.
Anger management does not stop anger from arriving. That’s not the objective. The idea is to shorten it’s duration and minimize its impact. The idea is to prevent violence.