pisses me off! Do I need Anger Management?
by Michael Kimmel
I am embarrassed to
be writing to you, but so what?
I am 21 years
old, gay and angry all the time.
thing is, I don’t know exactly what I’m angry about.
I’ve been out
for 3 years’ now and am okay with it, but my anger seems out of control.
I blow up at everybody, in the car, with friends, with
people at work.
everything just pisses me off!
told me I need “anger management” classes, because I’m always going off
on him and he’s fed up.
I think he’s right, but what exactly is “anger management”?
Ready to Explode in
When someone treats
you badly, it’s natural and even healthy to feel angry.
stuffing your anger until it builds (like a volcano) eventually to
“explode”, anger is a sign that you have needs that aren’t being met.
When you act out your
anger, usually it’s you who suffers the most.
You may yell
at someone else, give the finger to another driver on the freeway,
insult a colleague at work, but, in the long run, it will come back to
hurt you more than it will them.
anger is destructive.
expressed responsibly is constructive and healthy.
Anger that gets
pushed under always finds its way to the surface, and will eventually
“explode” with damaging results.
Being able to
responsibly express anger is part of being assertive.
If you can’t
assert your needs, wants or desires, you’re going to get frustrated,
annoyed and angry.
mean you always get what you want; you ask for what you want or tell
someone what you don’t want, and see what happens.
if your boyfriend does something you don’t like, you can be passive
(stuff it and say nothing), aggressive (overreact and yell at him, “You
stupid idiot, I told you not to do that”) or assertive: “Remember that I
told you how much that annoys me.
I’m starting to get angry because you’re doing it again.”
Anger Management is
about responsible and timely expression of anger.
This doesn’t mean going off on people whenever you feel
finding a way to maturely and respectfully express yourself when someone
or something is bothering you.
When I work with clients on “anger management”, I help them
figure out what to do with their anger, how to control it (not
vice-versa) and where it comes from.
your anger come from?
Anger Management asks you to THINK, not REACT.
Your thoughts create your emotional reaction, not
The next time you’re
angry, think before you react.
You could ask
yourself: “What am I upset about?” “What need of mine is being
“What do I
want to be different?” or “How do I want to be treated”?
When you are
clear on what you want, you can ask for it.
You can let others know when you don’t like what they’re
doing/saying to you.
However, if you’re
angry almost ALL the time, this is different from situational anger.
Chronic, ongoing anger is almost always a reaction to old
stuff; it’s important to figure out where it comes from.
This doesn’t mean that you blame your parents, teachers, or
whomever for past poor behavior.
It means that
you take responsibility for yourself by: (1) admitting that you have
valid reasons to be angry and (2) finding healthy outlets for that
The worst way to
channel your anger is to aim it at someone by yelling at or blaming
Usually, our nearest and dearest get the worst of our
destroy a good relationship, so it’s crucial to find other ways to
channel your anger.
Here are a few:
intense physical exercise: drop to the floor and do pushups until
you’re exhausted. Then see how angry you feel. Run, jog, lift
weights…it’s really hard to be angry when that endorphin “high”
it: uncensored writing that you don’t show to anyone can be a good
release. Be as pissed off as you want to! It won’t hurt anyone
(just don’t mail or Email it).
need to talk about it with someone you trust. A friend may be just
what you need. If the anger persists (beyond a few days), a
therapist may be helpful in finding the cause of chronic anger.
inanimate object with your fists or a tennis racket; it’s a good
physical release for anger. You can beat pillows, hit the bed or
slug a punching bag.
Scream in the
car (while you’re alone, of course). Ignore those strange looks on
the faces of your fellow drivers…they’re just jealous you can scream
Here’s what NOT to
or take drugs: this lowers your impulse control and encourages you
to “explode”. Domestic violence often involves alcohol or drug
Get in your
car and drive. Sometimes driving can calm you down, but if you’re
really angry, your ability to drive is impaired and you’re likely to
get angrier when other drivers don’t vacate the freeways for you.
Go for a walk instead.
Yell at people
or “tell someone off”: you’ll feel better for, oh, about 5 seconds.
And then the repercussions come: you can’t undo cruel things you say
You’ll just have to clean up and replace them.
the finger in traffic: how do you know that the other driver isn’t
high on crystal meth or has a gun in her/his glove compartment?
Don’t risk pissing off some crazy person who might follow you home!
Anger can be an
it’s one way
to let other people know where you stand, e.g., “this is not okay with
Anger clarifies what you think and feel; it can help you to
identify the source of your conflicts with others.
You can say to your boyfriend, “This matters to me, I need
to be able to talk with you about it, because if I don’t, I’m going to
anger causes resentment, and too much resentment results in the kind of
emotional “explosion” you talked about.
Let’s be real.
If your goal
is to express your anger responsibly, in all conditions, at all times.
No one I’ve
ever met has pulled this off.
But, it’s a
“Anger management” is about gaining control over your
emotions so your brain can short-circuit your impulsive reactions to say
and do hurtful things.
In the long
run, learning to manage your own anger is one of the best things you can
do for YOU…and, of course, your boyfriend will be happy too.
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