Anger: Useful or Destructive?
Along with emotions like fear, sadness and joy, anger is an inborn part of the human experience. We all feel it when expectations are not met, something of value gets taken away, or someone or something hurts us. Anger is a call to action. To the extent the action we choose is constructive, anger is a very useful emotion. To the extent our action is destructive, anger can become a serious problem. At the least, destructive expressions of anger push away those who are close to us, at the worst people are hurt and property is damaged in the wake of an angry explosion.
For many people, especially men, anger is a “go to” emotion that serves to cover or avoid feeling other more vulnerable emotions like fear, grief, guilt or uncertainty.
For example, when it comes to conflict with someone who really matters, many men try hard to avoid the conflict by silence, making excuses, minimizing, deflection, or defensive explaining. When that doesn’t work, they may escalate to angry outbursts, verbal counter-attacks, hurtful comments, sarcasm, cruel humor or even violence. The challenge for them is to recognize that under their outward display of anger are more unfamiliar, tender and vulnerable emotions that are driving their defensive anger, frustration or irritability. With that awareness, it is possible to take steps to de-escalate conflicts and enable problem solving and emotional reconnection.
More Than "Anger Management"
“Anger Management” is popularly understood to be a structured program that is often mandated by courts after domestic disputes or violence. While this sort of anger management is a very valuable and helpful program in those circumstances, it is not what we do.
Our work with anger focuses on exploring and understanding the underlying vulnerable emotions – to work to heal or manage the core feelings that drive the angry expressions. Our belief is that simply changing behavior – the way you talk or act – is not enough to significantly change patterns of anger over time.
Northern Illinois Men's Counseling has many years of experience helping men see their part in negative interactions, understand what drives them, and take courageous steps to respond differently, in ways that bring healing and closeness rather than distance, disconnection and hurt. Call, email or schedule an appointment right now through this website with no phone tag. We can help.