The aim of anger management is to construct a means to dismantle the automatic anger reflex by introducing conscious awareness of how and why we react, and to develop acceptable alternative behaviors to destructive expressions of anger. The goal of the information herein, is to assemble, as practically and as possible, a comprehensive overview of the types of approaches, the rationale behind the approaches, and practical skills and techniques to accomplish anger management. The information is inevitably focused on the anger expression that is directed outward through verbal and possible physical explosions. This is not to say, however, that those who do not “explode” are not necessarily angry or do not need to learn some way to manage their anger, or to more productively manage their anger.
One anecdotal reference describes a woman who professes to allow “no anger” around her, in her home or in her family. Not only is this unrealistically dysfunctional and extremely destructive in the long term, it is also a false claim. She herself channels her anger through controlling the scheduling and activities of those around her, attempting to insure that no unexpected occurrence could create a confrontation that would erupt into an anger expression. The fact is that she herself is a very angry person. Anger has a way of seeking escape. It is an internal pressure that is an inevitable part of frustration and failed expectation, though it can be managed into productive change. In some cases by making even small changes in the environment, the expectations or the belief system, can alleviate unnecessary anger. By insisting on suppressing and avoiding the anger around her, this woman contributed to a plethora of dysfunctional family experiences without ever realizing her responsibility or that her anger had created the situation. Unfortunately, the patterns of behavior became so entrenched, that the individuals could no longer interact outside of the proscribed circles of “acceptable” behavior. There was no opportunity for the type of spontaneous interaction that leads to growth and satisfying relationship experiences.
The unraveling of such a complex situation is filled with pitfalls and traps and most likely is a candidate for family or relationship counseling rather than a mere course in anger management. Anger management can, though, be a beginning, a key to prompt insight and change or a part of deeper, complementary counseling. For the most part, anger management focuses on the development of awareness and consciousness of behavior, as well as developing practical skills to guide oneself (with or without assistance) through the process of effecting changes in behavior that has yielded unsatisfying or detrimental results.
There is a certain irony in it all, and perhaps something to be aware of, in that “anger” often is treated like a “thing” like something “real” while at the same time the prevailing opinion is that anger is merely a thought or belief that needs to be developed or changed. It really becomes a question of an age-old problem in any non-quantifiable arena: don’t focus on the problem, focus on the solution. Yet this is hard to do, especially when solving the problem. A certain Zen parable illustrates:
“A student came to his master and explained that he was having problems with his anger. The teacher replied, ‘Fine. Just give it to me. ’But I can’t,’ the student replied, ‘for I am now not angry.’ ‘Fine,’ responded the teacher. ‘The next time you are angry just bring it to me.’ ‘But it is not something I can bring you,’ said the student. ‘Just so,’ said the teacher. ‘You can not bring it to me because it is not a real thing and not a part of you. Joy you can give. Happiness you can share. Those things are real, and to those things you shall look when you are tempted to believe in anger.’”
In addition to techniques and anger management approaches, this course will look at defining anger from a physical and sociological perspective, with an eye towards its inclusion under the broader umbrella of metaphysical sciences.