Conversations with Leonie: Addressing Anger
Hi Ms Schilling,
Been thinking about writing for some time now. I come from a pretty dysfunctional family. I don’t cope all that well with stress and find I’m quite an upset and isolated person. I have been told I have anger issues and this week my father has said that they are going away this Christmas to avoid another family get together blow up. Another thing if I’m honest, my work has become more and more toxic which has made me more and more angry and upset. The thing is I am not a person with violent outbursts or someone who has steroid rage. I have been given a written warning at work but every other nut job can go off and nothing is said.
I certainly don’t want to go to twee anger management workshops and I don’t want to be told what to feel. I see everyone else and all their issues and wonder why I am being singled out as the ‘Hot Head’. I’ve tried the stress relief stuff like running but now I have shin splints. I have tried meditation but can’t focus. I feel angry that I can’t just be angry. Mum and Dad pulling the plug on Christmas has really upset me. I feel as though they are distancing themselves from me and I rarely see them as it is. My brother and sisters are no angels and we do clash but I’m not one to just smile and swallow their rubbish. I should be allowed to feel what I feel, and we have emotions for a reason surely. And if I bottle up my anger, wont it make me sick? I’m willing to listen and learn but please don’t tell me not to be me.
Let me come at this from a different angle: when I have clients, who are drinking too much and their relationships at home, socially and at work are suffering and they say some version of “It’s not like I’m an alcoholic. I don’t have a drinking problem” I point out that if their drinking is affecting others, themselves and or their ability to earn a living, they do indeed have a drinking problem. The message I am getting from you is that your anger is indeed affecting your relationships and your work environment and this being the case, you need to accept that you do have an anger management problem.
You have mentioned that you need to let your anger out to stop being sick. The truth is that you need to find a way to constructively manage your emotions so that you don’t get sick. Bottom line: people can’t afford to be angry. We have known for years that ongoing prolonged anger compromises health. There are chemical changes that occur in the body when we get angry and its not pretty. High blood pressure, cardiovascular and other issues such as a compromised immune system (which we rely on to fight disease) can be linked to unmanaged anger. Stress hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline are released and these hormones are great to get you out of a dangerous situation, but they are detrimental if they are a constant in your body. Anger is bad for us and has a negative effect on our bodies, but the good news is that if we modify the way we process information, the way we deal with thoughts and the way we talk to ourselves, we can manage anger in a more productive and healthy way. This means that those with anger issues can enjoy better and more rewarding relationships with others. There is no doubt in my mind that unmanaged anger can cause the perpetrator to become isolated as you say you are. Healthy people won’t tolerate abuse or behaviours that make them feel threatened and so they rightly remove themselves.
Ask yourself, “Is this what you want your life to look like?”
You don’t have to go to workshops to mange anger but rather I suggest personal counselling to show you how to recognise your triggers, change your thinking and internal dialogue to a healthier narrative and gain power over your anger. You say that this issue has been going on for some time now so perhaps its time for you to stop repeating the negative loops that are so affecting your personal and professional relationships and try something different.
Remember that if nothing changes then nothing changes.
Til next week
Counsellor | Author | Columnist | Radio Commentator | Trainer | Mediator
Leonie is a Qualified Counsellor, Trainer, Mediator and Early childhood Educator who is also a Justice of the Peace.
Specialising in Relationship Counselling, Personal Counselling and Employment Coaching.
Relationship INTENSIVE CARE
by Leonie Schilling
A Practical Guide to Saving and Maintaining Your Relationship.
This book is a must have for people looking for a practical and easy to understand plan to repair their relationship.