If there is one emotion that most people don’t know how to handle appropriately, then it has to be anger. Anger gets a bad rap in society as it can be disruptive. We often mistake anger as a license to become aggressive. Men can either go down the road of being that guy with anger management issues, or that Nice Guy, who never seems to get angry.
In psychotherapy, we look at anger as a masking emotion. There is always another emotion underlying the anger and often it is either fear or sadness. As men, we are socialized from a young age that we have greater license to become angry than to be sad. Hence, the image of a jilted lover, trashing the place around him and taking revenge on the woman who dumped him.
In my work with men coming to see me with anger management issues, I use a two-pronged approach. The first phase involves teaching my client how to calm himself when he feels agitated and there are a number of mindfulness and calming skills that can be employed. The key is to switch on the rational part of his brain, because when he is triggered, he is in his emotional brain and that rational part gets overridden.
The second phase involves discovering the emotion underlying the anger and working to heal the associated wound. In this phase I also work on improving my client’s emotional fluency, reduce stigma around feeling the feels and psycho-education on healthy ways to express his feelings. Healthily express your sadness, when you feel sad, instead of expressing it as anger.
The other side of the coin is my work with the Nice Guys, who are completely disconnected from their anger. They often come into therapy, as they notice that when they are triggered, they either becoming passive aggressive or avoidant and that harms and undermines their relationships in the long run. These men are often more emotionally sensitive (which can be a great asset) and have received the script that aggression and anger are bad and you can only get your needs met if you play nice.
Nice Guys are very familiar with the energy of sadness and use that emotion when their boundaries are violated, even though, it would be a better option for them to connect with their anger and use that energy appropriately.
With Nice Guys, I work on discovering and reprogramming their negative beliefs associated with anger and aggression. We then look at how anger can be expressed in a healthy way and bring in some exercises to be assertive. I might encourage them to join a martial arts class, to learn how to manipulate the energy of aggression in an efficient and effective way.
Contact me for a free 30-min phone consultation and we can talk about how we can work towards you having a better relationship with anger.