Help for Anger problems using Psychotherapy, EMDR, Cognitive Therapy, Hypnotherapy at 1066 Therapy
covering East Sussex, Battle, Hastings, Bexhill, Rye, Heathfield, Hailsham, Eastbourne, Brighton, Crowborough, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Ashford and Kent.
Healthy anger has several key points. We express it at the right person, about the right thing, in the right proportion, at the right time, and without hurting anyone. This is appropriate and can be liberating and cathartic, but is a very difficult skill to acquire! So, what about the times when it’s unhealthy, e.g. we really ‘lose it’, or it is out of proportion, or inappropriate in a given situation? As perhaps illustrated in the photo on the right.
Unhealthy anger – e.g. rage – is the type that people have most problems with. This is different in many ways to healthy anger. It tends to originate from ‘suppressed anger’, connected to negative past events. The emotions have not been properly processed. Suppressed anger usually leads to one of two ways of behaving:
Acting it out ~
Inappropriate and unrestrained anger (aggression / rage), as opposed to the healthy variety, can lose jobs, ruin relationships and it can also, on occasion, be violent and destructive. This is not very helpful!
Acting it in ~
Here, we do not, as a rule, express anger (of any type). We say things like ‘I don’t get angry’ or ‘I don’t do anger’ or ‘I don’t like confrontation’. We do experience anger though: e.g. we might feel frustrated, impatient, irritable, tetchy, with lots of relatively minor things, or we may ‘hate the world’ sometimes. What we really mean is that we don’t express appropriate, healthy anger to other people, except perhaps from the relative safety of our car! Not liking ‘confrontation’, when we feel angry with someone, we tend not to express it in a healthy, assertive way. We may sometimes slam doors or throw things as a reaction to a situation. Most often though, we hold it all in, suppress it and turn it against ourselves.
And then I hear in therapy: ‘the only person I get angry with is myself’. The trouble is that, when we suppress emotions in this way, we can develop other problems. Perhaps we will hold tension in the body. Or we may develop other problems such as depression, self-hate, self-loathing, feelings of powerlessness, and so on.
Sometimes people can swing between acting out and acting in anger. Sometimes being angry is the default emotion for a person.
Is it a Primary, or Secondary / Default emotion?
Anger is normal, natural part of our survival response – the ‘fight’ part of fight/flight/freeze. Thus, we can protect ourselves or our loved ones if we are in real danger, or in pain. Or if we sense a threat to our well-being (e.g. being bullied) or our boundaries are crossed. Technically though, our survival response is activated by fear. This makes anger secondary to the primary emotion of fear. It can also be a secondary / default emotion ‘masking’ other, usually more uncomfortable, feelings such as hurt, shame, insecurity, vulnerability etc. When it is a ‘default’ emotion, we will tend to get angry when we are feeling any uncomfortable emotion – we simply default to anger.
Most people are not regularly experiencing actual danger to their life and limb, or anything causing physical pain, or bullying. Any of these would explain their anger very well. In contrast, when people ask me for help it’s often because they are ‘acting out’ suppressed anger, and their anger is usually out of proportion to the situation. Their anger is often inappropriate and unhealthy. Or it is a default emotion for them, covering up more uncomfortable emotions.
Anger management and CBT have become popular in recent years to help people cope with these problems. These approaches can help people to manage their ‘short fuse’ and loss of temper to varying degrees. However these approaches usually don’t help to resolve the underlying problems. The root causes of these problems often stem from negative past experiences, often but not always from childhood. We need to work through the causes to enable a proper resolution to anger issues. The causes are usually long-forgotten by the time someone develops problems.
I offer different approaches for this (and every problem). The choice of which one (or more) to take depends on the individual and their circumstances. We usually make the decision together during the initial consultation.
Please browse my site for information on the various therapies / approaches that I practise.
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